Wine lovers preparing for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, have a lot to look forward to: a new year and a clean slate, of course, but also the promise of beloved traditional meals shared in the company of friends and family.
Chef Jeff Nathan, co-owner and operator of New York kosher restaurant Abigael's on Broadway, and his wife, Alison, have shared three recipes that represent a typical Rosh Hashanah meal served in their home: a salad without meat or dairy, a lamb dish and a dessert that may be made with or without dairy. Nathan, who is also the host of the PBS series New Jewish Cuisine and the author of Adventures in Jewish Cooking and Jeff Nathan's Family Suppers, says, "When I'm home, I say that I don't like to cook, but I really can't help but get involved—it's in my blood. Allie and I usually do the cooking together and invite over some family. If the weather's nice, I'll cut a rack of lamb, or maybe a rack of veal, into chops, and grill them outdoors. If not, they get roasted in the oven, as a whole rack. What's nice about racks is that they're so versatile."
When it comes to pairings for the holiday meal, "It's a really exciting time for kosher wine, especially what's coming out of Israel," says Aron Ritter, founder of the Kosher Wine Society, which recently held its sixth-annual New Wines for the New Year event. The tasting in New York featured the latest vintages of more than 100 wines, including selections from Barkan, Baron Herzog, Giordano's Borgo Reale, Daltôn, Galil Mountain, Goose Bay, Tabor, Psagot, Recanati, Golan Heights Winery, Yatir and more. "There are amazing Israeli winemakers who have gone all over the world to study winemaking, and are now back in Israel." With an increase in boutique wineries and the existence of visitor centers at established houses like Carmel and Golan Heights, Ritter says that Israel's wine regions are evolving into a kind of "mini-Napa," appealing to wine-loving travelers seeking a unique experience.
At Abigael's, kosher wines from Israel, California, Italy, France and New Zealand make up the list. Nathan suggests starting with Bartenura Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie 2013, Barkan Classic Chardonnay 2013 from Israel, or Baron Herzog Chenin Blanc Clarksburg 2012 to go along with the beet, pear and fennel salad. To pour with the grilled lamb rib chops with ratatouille, Nathan most often reaches for Teal Lake Shiraz South Eastern Australia 2011. And for dessert he prefers Baron Herzog's Late Harvest White Riesling Monterey County 2012.