It took a moment, once my editor had jokingly spit-balled the idea of writing a Jew’s take on wines to drink at Christmas, to realize that he was, in fact, talking about me.
Yes, folks, it’s true: Despite my resistance to religion in general, I am Jewish, though I don’t consider myself to be particularly good at it. I wasn’t blessed with my people’s Semitic good looks, and my name doesn’t exactly inspire images of dreidels or matzah ball soup (of which I’m very fond). I’m married now, but, for years, single Jewish women would change their tune when they learned I was a Member of the Tribe.
All that said, I’ve never been a fan of Manischewitz, and, this year, I already know what wines we’ll be drinking on Christmas, aka that Other Holiday in December.
Lately, I’ve been enjoying a pair of reasonably priced Amarone della Valpolicellas—the Pasqua and the Conte di Bregonzo, both of which are 2009 bottles and can be found at Trader Joe’s. The process by which the grapes for this Italian blend are prepared is interesting: They’re picked ripe, but then allowed to dry for sev- eral months before being pressed. The result is a wine that’s intense in terms of sugars and flavors, as well as alcohol content—both of these bottles are right up around 15-percent.
Traditionally, Amarone is a take-it-or-leave-it wine. It’s somewhat one-dimensional, but there are times when what you really want to drink is something simple and straightforward. I prefer the Pasqua to the Conte, but both are seriously full-bodied with potent flavors.
This is key for me because, despite my Jewish heritage, I’ve always celebrated Christmas, and this year marks the first time we haven’t had family in from out of town in almost a decade. That in and of itself is a gift—assuming none of them reads this column—but it also means that we can totally eschew the traditional holiday meal for once (I mean, Thanksgiving is still fresh in my mind) and go with something like fondue, which I’ll make in the new fondue pot my wife buys me for Christmas.
See, honey? You were looking for ideas for me, right?