top of page
  • Writer's pictureCulinary Cam

A Little Bit of Hannukah with a Pinot Noir from Central Otago #WorldWineTravel

Updated: Dec 24, 2022

Do you remember that song by Lou Bega from the late 90s? Mambo No. 5? "A little bit of Monica..." well, that was what I was humming in my head when I came up with the title of this post. Sing it with me: A little bit of Hannukah...

This month the #WorldWineTravel bloggers are venturing to the South Island of New Zealand, other than Marlborough. Susannah of Avvinare is hosting. Because our normally scheduled chat falls on Christmas Eve, we're skipping it. But you can read the articles here...

I will start with this: We are not Jewish. However, my boys attended an International Baccalaureate school from kindergarten all the way through high school and, so, they have been exposed to cultures and traditions from all around the world. One year, early on in elementary school, they played dreidel and ate latkes in class. Though they didn't light a menorah, R wanted one and it's been part of our holiday traditions ever since. But let's take a look at the wine region.

Central Otago, New Zealand

Central Otago is the southernmost wine region in New Zealand, but it is also the southernmost commercial wine region on the globe. At a latitude of 45 degrees south, the only other vineyards that are similar are experimental plantings in the Patagonia region of South America.

And seventy-five percent of production in Central Otago is of Pinot Noir with over 1,500 hectares of Pinot Noir vineyards. The bottle I found is the 2018 Mohua Pinot Noir. Made by a family-run winery, Mohua Wines was founded in 2009 and named for the Mohua, one of New Zealand's rarest birds. And the winery plays an active role in the conservation of these birds that are found in the remote parts of the rainforests.

The wine poured a clear garnet color with lots of bright floral and savory aromas. While the florals on the nose were almost overpowering, as the wine sat in the glass, it mellowed to a more balanced, graceful wine.

While I would normally pour a Riesling or something bubbly with latkes, I decided to go with this Pinot Noir and was pleased with the match. I poured it a second night with matzo ball soup - yep, we just kept the Hannukah theme going - and it went well with that also. I topped the latkes with a persimmon-horseradish-homemade mayo sauce, a dollop of sour cream, and some briny capers.

Crispy Latkes

The secret to making the perfect latkes - golden on the inside and crispy on the outside - is the starchiness of potato. The best, supposedly, are the baking russets; the worst are boiling potatoes. I opted to use what I had: Yukon golds. They fall in the middle of the starchiness scale.


  • 1-1/2 pounds potatoes (3 to 4 potatoes)

  • 1 large egg

  • 2 Tablespoons breadcrumbs or you can use matzo meal

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 cup canola oil

  • fruit sauce (applesauce is traditional), sour cream, and caper for serving


  1. Grate potatoes and onion with a food processor. Place them in a cheesecloth over a strainer and squeeze out as much liquid as you can from the mixture. Pour off liquid. Place in a medium mixing bowl.

  2. Add in the remaining ingredient and set aside.

  3. Heat the oil in a rimmed skillet until a piece of potato sizzles when dropped into the pan.

  4. Scoop 1/4 cup of the mixture and shape into a 3-inch patty.

  5. Fry the latkes until golden on both sides. Slide the latke into the hot oil. Cook until deeply golden-brown, approximately 4 to 5 minutes on each side.

  6. Transfer the latkes to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain for 2 minutes before serving.

After dinner we played dreidel and Jake wiped us all out. At least he shared the prize with all of us!

All the 2022 #WorldWineTravel Posts

Here's the line-up of all my posts that includes the links to everyone else's articles on the topics.

Well, that is a wrap for the #WorldWineTravel group for 2022. I think we are still debating on our focus for next year, but I heard buzzings about South America. Stay tuned. I would love to dive deeper in the wines of Chile, Brazil, Argentina, and more!

26 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page