I was thrilled to learn that Chanucah, my second favourite Jewish holiday, coincides this year with my favourite American holiday. The second candle will be lit on November 28 which is Thanksgiving.
Latkes and turkey, anyone?
If you are of the presents-at-Chanucah persuasion, and if you are moderately serious about wine, I would like to share my standard advice about buying presents for wine lovers.
The Wine Society (01438 741177, www.thewinesociety.com) is a wine “club” owned by its members, who pay a one-off fee of £40 to join. Once there, they get access to the one of the best lists in the country.
And it is not at all the exclusive preserve of wealth and privilege. I order from them regularly on behalf of my wife’s aunt, who is on a limited budget and doesn’t like to spend much more than £6 a bottle. There is plenty of choice.
One of her regulars, The Society’s Côtes de Gascogne, shows just how well they do at lower price levels. This 100 per cent Colombard, from the estimable Domaine du Tariquet, makes a wonderful (and low-alcohol) house white, £5.95. You can climb the price ladder all the way to the stars at the Wine Society, but prices remain keen throughout.
If it’s charitable giving you’re after, the Piggybank wine range offers you the chance to donate by buying wine. Details of the scheme are explained fully at www.piggybankwine.com, but in essence the company donates 50p from every bottle. My favourite of their range is the Syrah 2010 from the Elqui Valley in northern Chile. Very Rhône-ish, Syrah and not Shiraz. Plump, juicy, irresistible. £7.99 from Waitrose and from Piggybank online, and £48 for six bottles from www.tesco.com.
And finally: if you want something that is shamelessly hedonistic, seek out Craggy Range Te Muna Pinot Noir 2011. Craggy Range is a high-quality producer in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, and this is their top-end Pinot. Opulent, smoky, lush. Cheapest at Majestic, £22.50.