One of Our Favorite Kosher Wines

Our go-to wine for those Shabbos meals when our guests don’t bring any (!) is the Ramon Cardova Rioja. A product of Spain, this rich red wine is produced solely from Tempranillo grapes. I confess that I have never heard of or tasted those grapes but they seem to make a good wine! It’s rich and robust and seems to suit almost all palates. We highly recommend it; you won’t be disappointed.

Cocktails

How often do you have a sophisticated evening with other adults where you get to drink cocktails? Never, right?! There doesn’t seem to be a “right” moment between homework and dishes, between laundry and work projects. But Purim is the perfect time to dress in your “Thin Man” costumes and pour some adult drinks – just for the adults, of course! Here are a few fun ones to try. You could also dress as a bartender…

Chocolate Martinis
Tutti-Frutti
Easy Margaritas

Chocolate Martinis

This recipe is for 4 servings but you can adjust according to the size of your crowd.

4 tablespoons chocolate syrup
1 cup vodka
2 ounces chocolate liqueur
2 ounces crème de cacao
4 maraschino cherries
Ice

Drizzle chocolate syrup into 4 martini glasses; set aside. Fill cocktail shaker 2/3 full with ice and add vodka, chocolate liqueur and crème de cacao. Cover and shake. Strain into martini glasses. Garnish with maraschino cherries. Invite me over!

Tutti-Frutti

Serves 4 but can be doubled or tripled or…

4 cups ice cubes
6 ounces vodka
1 cup cranberry juice
½ cup grapefruit juice

Fill highball glasses with ice cubes. Combine vodka, cranberry and grapefruit juice in a pitcher. Pour into glasses. Garnish with a slice of lemon or lime.

Easy Margaritas

Serves 4 but I recommend adjusting for a larger crowd. Even the small crowd will want seconds!

1 (6-ounce) can frozen limeade
¾ cup tequila
¼ cup triple sec

Fill blender with crushed ice (or crush it in blender first). Pour in limeade, tequila and triple sec. Blend until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve.

Vodka

If you don’t want to make your own flavored vodka, the stores are full of options. A few new ones from me oko were recently sent our way. They are definitely unusual and sparked interest and conversation among our guests. We sampled the ginger-infused, the strawberry-infused and the jalapeno-infused. I liked the jalapeno one the best; it has a real kick! We tried them straight – ice cold from the freezer but the company also suggests some cocktail options. These are not for the faint of heart!

Ginger Snap
1 part me oko ginger vodka
½ part Amaretto

Combine with ice and serve in a shot glass.

Hot and Sour Martini
1-1/2 parts me oko jalapeno vodka
3 parts grapefruit juice

Blend over ice and serve in a chilled glass.

Bloody Mary
(Make a big pitcher!)
2 parts jalapeno vodka
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 dash fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon horseradish
4 parts tomato juice or Bloody Mary mix

Shake over ice and strain into a tall glass of ice. Garnish with sprig of celery and wedge of lime.

Bottoms up!

Infused Vodkas

Flavored vodkas are flying off liquor-store shelves but making your own can be a lot tastier and much more fun. Use the colorful glass bottles we featured in our Great Products section or for smaller portions, make them in jam jars. The ingredients are so pretty in the vodka that they look nice in any glass jar. The basic concept is to marry a variety of choice flavors into a base liquor to create a custom-flavored spirit.

Basic Instructions:
Choose your flavors: 
Herbs, spices and fruits are most commonly used for infusions. The most popular infusions are fruit-based; however you can use your imagination to create some wonderful combinations.

Process: Choose a clean, air-tight jar. Wash the ingredients, place them inside the jar and fill it with vodka. Shake a few times and cover tightly with a lid.

Infusion Time: 
You will want to store your infusion in a cool, dark place and shake it 3-5 times a day for the duration of the infusion. On average the ingredients should stay in the liquor for 3-5 days. Some of the more intense flavors will only need 3 days (like peppers or star anise), less intense flavors (like citrus), should stay in the jar for a full week or more.

The Finish: 
Strain and start sipping. Store in an airtight jar, as you would any other liquor.

Coffee Bean and Hazelnut Vodka
4 coffee beans
2 tablespoons toasted hazelnuts
1-½ cups Vodka

Place coffee beans and hazelnuts in a jar. Cover with vodka and seal the jar.
Infuse for 3 days. Strain if you like, and place in an attractive container.


Cranberry Spice


– 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
– 5 whole cloves
– 1 whole nutmeg, cracked
– 1 teaspoon whole coriander seed, cracked
– 1/2 a whole vanilla bean
– ½ stick cinnamon, cracked
– 6 whole allspice berries, cracked
– 1 (750 ml) bottle vodka

Place cranberries and spices in an infusion jar and top with vodka. Let infuse for 2 – 3 days, then strain and place infused Vodka in an attractive container.

Triple Citrus
– 2 small ruby grapefruits
– 3 tangerines or oranges
– 3 lemons
– 3 (750 ml) bottles of vodka

Rinse fruit well. Use a large container and 3 large 750 ml bottles of vodka. Make this in a large container and then pour into smaller jars as gifts. Poke each piece of fruit 30 – 40 times with a skewer. Place fruit in an infusion jar and top with vodka. Let infuse for 3 – 4 days, then strain and place infused vodka in an attractive container. Alternatively, slice the fruit and divide amongst small jars, cover with vodka and infuse for 3 -4 days.

Dried Chili and Star Anise
1 star anise
1 dried chili
2 cardamom pods
1-½ cups vodka

Place star anise, chile and cardamom in jar. Cover with vodka and seal. Infuse for 1 day. This is spicy so strain, and place in an attractive container.

Spicy Jalapeno and Lemon
1 jalapeno pepper
Zest from 1 lemon
3 cups vodka

Place pepper and zest in jar. Cover with vodka and seal jar. Infuse for 3 day. Strain, and place in an attractive container.

Watermelon Vodka

½ small watermelon, cubed
3 cups vodka

Place watermelon in jar. Cover with vodka and seal jar. Infuse for 5 days. Remove watermelon cubes. Place in an attractive container

More to Try at KFWE


Here are some more wines to try at KFWE – or anywhere else you can get your hands on them! The extravagantly labeled Alexander the Great is a high-end wine made from a new kosher Israeli winery and aged for 36 months in oak barrels.

Or you can try the Herzog Reserve Oak Knoll Cabernet, a new single vineyard wine from Herzog Wine cellars. Actually, don’t make it an either/or; try them both!

Try them with some of our spectacular recipes from restaurant chefs like the Chicken Tikka from Shalom Bombay or the Moroccan Lamb Shanks from Le Marais.

Two Wines You Must Taste at KFWE

Here are two wines that you must taste at The Kosher Food and Wine Experience on February 22 in NYC.

First, the Capcanes La Flor del Flor
Why? Because it is made from 100+ year old vines and said to be one of the most elegant wines ever made. Everyone is talking about this wine and you will know why once you try it.

Second, the Covenant Cabernet. It has a cool label and cost more than my budget allows me to spend on wine. Come to the event and enjoy it with me. Also, Josh from the Covenant winery will be there and he is a wealth of information about wine making and specifically extraordinary kosher wine.


For tickets go to www.kfwe.com and use code GKC10 for $10 off each ticket.

Rioja

In the last few years good wines have popped up from Chili and Argentina but lately it seems that everyone is talking about Rioja wines. These are usually dry red wines from the Rioja region of Northern Spain. Honestly, this wine was new to me so I was excited to try it, especially since the non-kosher world sees it as a big wine trend for 2011. The Elvi Matiz Rioja 2008 is the best kosher Rioja to try. You can taste the spicy black cherry and savory flavors and smell the earthy aroma. Rioja loses flavor if served from a decanter according to Rioja experts so best to serve it from the bottle. It’s a perfect Friday night wine and pairs well with Shabbos food like Savory Lamb Stew or London Broil with Caramelized Shallots and Walnuts.

Vodka


True confessions: I actually prefer liquor to wine – although my husband feels differently. I like a good scotch, a good tequila and a good vodka. I usually prefer them straight – no ice and no mixers – although I do like the vodka to be stored in the freezer. At Purim time, I plan to sample some of the newer flavored vodkas but for now the tastemakers in our home are torn between our traditional family favorite, Vox, and our guests’ gift of choice: Belvedere. Have a blind taste test in your home. Let us know which you prefer.

Chianti


Fantastic news on the kosher wine front! GKC would like to introduce you to the FIRST EVER exclusively kosher winery in Italy called Pellegrini Della Seta viticoltori. Located in the heart of Tuscany, do I need to say more? When are we going?

Pellegini’s inaugural offering is the TerradiSeta, Chianti Classico and it has already received a 90 point rating from the internationally renowned wine critic, Daniel Rogov. The wine has a beautiful garnet color. The taste? A light hint of spices from the French oak barriques, dark cherries, and raspberries, and even a note of dark chocolate. Flavorful, smooth, and enchanting. We serve it with Chicken Cacciatore, Chicken with Tarragon and Quick Roasted Garlic, Pumpkin-Coconut Bisque, or Pasta with Eggplant and Bell Pepper. Pellegini did so well with their first offering, we can’t wait to see what else they have coming.

Herzog Reserve Cabernet/Zinfandel/Syrah


Gary Landsman, AKA the “Wine Tasting Guy”, raves about the Herzog Reserve Cabernet/Zinfandel/Syrah: This unique blend from the Herzog reserve series is such a crowd pleaser that I served it at my wedding. (Now that’s what I call raving!) The wine delivers ripe fruity aromas, with the flavors of blackberry, plums and toasty vanilla, along with an elegant finish. It is a robust wine that goes well with aged cheese or rich flavorful meat & chicken dishes.

Gary Landsman makes, sells, writes about and, of course, tastes wine. Presently doing PR/Marketing work for Royal Wines, you can contact Gary with any wine related questions at gary@winetastingguy.com

Walder’s Vodka & Vanilla


Served as an aperitif or digestif, this liqueur was named “Best New Wine, Beer or Spirit” at the 2010 Kosherfest competition. Creamy and dairy free, this liqueur is infused with premium vodka and vanilla and delivers a taste sensation likened to a liquid vanilla ice cream with a kick. It was poured for attendees at Kosherfest following its award and was incredibly well received.

GKC served it to guests last Shabbos and all agreed, it was “creamy, luscious, decadent, and enjoyable on its own.” If you prefer it mixed we loved the Walder’s Snowball.

Walder’s Snowball
Walders Vodka & Vanilla
Sprite or 7UP

In a tall glass pour one part of Walders Vodka & Vanilla and two parts of Sprite or 7 Up, all at room temperature. The drink
will froth up just like a snowball.

Netofa Winery

credit: vosizneias.com

Netofa Winery, a new Israeli winery, called “worth watching” by renowned critic Daniel Rogov released its first wine, Domaine Netofa Red. It is a medium-to-full-bodied wine with aromas and flavors of dark berries, mocha and spice. Great structure makes this a versatile food wine capable of pairing with hearty dishes such as beef or chicken, and lighter dishes such as grilled vegetables or salmon.

Gary Landsman, AKA the “Wine Tasting Guy”, makes, sells, writes about and of course tastes wine. Presently doing PR/Marketing work for Royal Wines, you can contact Gary with any wine related questions at gary@winetastingguy.com

Fletchas de los Andes Gran Malbec

I have people flipping out over this wine. I brought it to a young couples’ luncheon at my shul a few weeks ago and people couldn’t get enough of it.

Fletchas de los Andes Gran Malbec: A super lush wine with blackberry, chocolate and caramel flavors and aromas that finishes long and velvety.

Since it is a ripe but elegant Malbec it goes great with meats, particularly stews. Try it with the Curried Beef Stew with Apple Dumplings with Apple Dumplings or with this terrific chocolate cake. Enjoy!!

Gary Landsman, AKA the “Wine Tasting Guy”, makes, sells, writes about and of course tastes wine. Presently doing PR/Marketing work for Royal Wines, you can contact Gary with any wine related questions at gary@winetastingguy.com

The Best Kosher Wines Come From … part (2)

We continue our competition between Israeli and Californian wines. Next were three Cabernet Sauvignon rounds, each including wines of comparable price matched alongside one another. The first round included the Herzog Reserve Alexander Valley and the Barkan Altitude 624. Comments for the first wine, which we later learned was the Herzog, included descriptions such as; “lots of fruit – nice wine” by Jay, “sweet fruit – quite pleasant” by the Israeli expert and “fruit forward – almost sweet” by the NY expert. The second wine (the Barkan) received words of praise such as “raspberry and cherry – lots of stuff going on” (Jay), “rich nose, good length – nice wine” (Israel wine expert) while I noted its “baked fruit – soft palate”. No clear favorite in this round as both were well received.

We took a step up the price platform and tried the Herzog Reserve Chalk Hill against the Bazelet HaGolan Reserve Cabernet. The first, which turned out to be the Chalk Hill had a “developed nose and soft tannins” (Israeli expert), was “soft & flavorful – great wine” according to Jay and was “velvety soft with great tannins” (NY expert). I found it to be “lush” with “great structure” and a “long finish”. Three of us preferred this wine while the Israeli expert preferred the Bazelet which he felt had a “good concentrated nose” and “good length”. NY expert called the Bazelet “Yum” with “blackberry, violet and great aging potential”, Jay commented that it had a “nice nose” and I remarked that I enjoyed the “dark fruit and chocolate” aromas.

Our last round featured Israel’s Yatir “Forest” against California’s Covenant – each highly rated award winning wines. The first wine, (which later was revealed to be) the Covenant, was a “rich fruit, delicious, WOW” wine according to Jay, and a “dark, rich, complex” wine according to Israel expert. The NY based wine expert said the Covenant had “big fruit (flavors) that coat the mouth”. The second wine, the Yatir Forest, had “rich tannins – excellent” exclaimed Jay, was “soft & juicy” according to Israeli wine expert and “great on the palate” according to NY expert. Once again this round featured a split panel, with two panelists favoring the Covenant and the other two favoring the Yatir.

Overall the winner was not Israel or California, but rather the kosher wine consumer. The last 10-20 years have seen continued improvement by kosher wineries, big and small, each improving the quality of their offerings to such a level that all kosher consumers can now proudly serve wine at the various price points and feel confident and secure that they are serving world class products.

Gary Landsman, AKA the “Wine Tasting Guy”, makes, sells, writes about and of course tastes wine. Presently doing PR/Marketing work for Royal Wines, you can contact Gary with any wine related questions at gary@winetastingguy.com

The Best Kosher Wine Comes From…


California and Israel have been producing the highest scoring kosher wines over the past 10 years. Now comes the big question: Which is better?
California has commercial wineries with respected reputations as well as smaller “boutique” wineries vying for consumers’ attention. Israel has commercial wineries that have been producing wine for twenty, thirty and, in one case, as many as 120 years, as well as upstart “garagiste” wineries drawing rave reviews. One thing is sure – competition has been great for the marketplace. The quality of the wines seems to increase every year. But which location is producing the best kosher wines?

The debate as to which is better probably lies in the eye of the beholder – or taster! In my own home it is a running feud. My wife prefers the clean, fruit-driven wines of California while I tend to prefer the spicy complexity of Israeli wines. In an effort to better resolve this debate, I formed a panel, together with my colleague and Director of Wine Education for Royal Wines Jay Buchsbaum, to taste through many of the top Israeli and California wines. Jay and I were joined by a NY-based wine industry veteran of 20 years and an Israel-based wine expert who was in NY at the time of the tasting and graciously participated.

The tasting was done blind, meaning all the wines were poured from paper bags to avoid any possible bias among the tasting panel. We sampled two to three wines per round, with each “round” pairing comparable wines (ie. same grape, style, year, etc).

The first round was a Rose´ round. The Israeli wine was the new Yogev Carignan/Malbec Rose´ by Binyamina and the California rose´ was the Baron Herzog White Zinfandel. This round featured one of our surprises of the night. Our shared expectations for the White Zin were low, given its association as a cheap, mass-produced wine. Sure enough, when the bags were removed and the wines were unveiled, “WOW” was a word used by the NY wine expert, who described “light candy notes” found in the Baron Herzog White Zin. The Yogev Rose´ was also well received with its dark pink hue and cherry flavors. The surprise favorite here was clearly the Baron Herzog White Zinfandel.

Round two was a Chardonnay round, and included three wines. From California was the Herzog Reserve “Russian River”, while Israel had two entrants, the Castel “C” Chardonnay and the Tzuba Chardonnay, both from the Judean Hills. Jay felt the Russian River was rich, with toasty oak and nice creaminess. Several of us found an interesting “popcorn” character in the Castel. This round also had a surprise favorite; the Tzuba Chardonnay which presented quite well and was described as “elegant and balanced” by the NY expert, while the Israeli expert was impressed with Tzuba’s “fruit shining through”.

The evening continued – and so does the suspense. Tune in next week for news of the continued debate and to find out the real winner!

Gary Landsman, AKA the “Wine Tasting Guy”, makes, sells, writes about and of course tastes wine. Presently doing PR/Marketing work for Royal Wines, you can contact Gary with any wine related questions at gary@winetastingguy.com.

More New Wines for the Holidays

Israel has been a prime player in the quality kosher wine revolution. But most of the best Israeli wines have been Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines. While “Cab is king”, a little variety is always nice. Domaine Netofa is a new winery founded by the traveling kosher winemaker Pierre Miodownick. The first wine released by Netofa is a blend of Syrah and Mourvedre – a fruity, food-friendly winner! Rosé is a great Succos wine, given that is has the flavors to hold up to lots of food and is intended to be served chilled – perfect for an afternoon in the succah. From the Yogev line is the new Malbec/Carignan Rosé with its deep pink color and expressive notes of red berries and lavender. Barkan has released a new blend; the Barkan Classic Merlot/Argaman. Argaman is indigenous to Israel and Israeli vintners are figuring out the best way to use the grape. This is a medium-bodied blend and a welcome addition to the well-priced Barkan Classic line. Finally, from Shiloh, a boutique winery that has previously released the cult favorite “Secret” Cabernet, come two new 100% varietal wines. The Shiloh Barbera has expressive fruit and a mouth-watering acidity while the Shiloh Petite Sirah is a dark wine with gripping tannins and a full body.

Not to be left out of the new wine party, California wineries are also constantly looking to keep Cali wine lovers happy with new and exciting products. The newly released Baron Herzog Pinot Grigio is Herzog Wine Cellar’s answer to the easy drinking white wine made famous in Italy. My sources tell me however that many new exciting wines are on the horizon as Herzog Reserve is getting ready to add to its already impressive line of premium wines with a new To Kalon wine, a wine from Sonoma’s famed Trestle Glen Vineyard, and a wine from Napa’s famed Mt Veeder.

Whatever the country and no matter the grape, this Yom Tov season make sure to take advantage of the bounty of new wines available on the market. Your taste buds won’t be disappointed!

Gary Landsman, AKA the “Wine Tasting Guy”, makes, sells, writes about and of course tastes wine. Presently doing PR/Marketing work for Royal Wines, you can contact Gary with any wine related questions at gary@winetastingguy.com.

New Kosher Wines for the New Jewish Year

Several wines have arrived stateside just in time for Rosh Hashana & Succot.

5771 is almost here and with it arrive new wines from Australia, Italy, France and of course Israel, not to mention California.

Australia is famous for their Shiraz (elsewhere often known as Syrah). Yet for many years the kosher Shiraz available in the US have typically been “value” wines, those that are nice table wines but do not quite qualify as premium and rarely garner high scores from the critics. Harkham winery is looking to change that with their Harkham Shiraz, new to the US market. Densely colored with rich fruit flavors and spices, keep your eye out for this bottle with the slick black and silver label.

Italy has a long history of making great wines, especially wines that go well with food. Despite this history, only a few of the best kosher Italian wines have ever found their way stateside. However new wineries have been contracted to produce kosher wines and the results have been clean, fresh and affordable wines that wonderfully compliment cuisine. Recently released for the first time is the Ovadia line of Italian wines. The Ovadia Chianti, priced at about $15 is a very nice example of an Italian village wine. The Ovadia Barbera d’Alba is a few dollars more and has appealing berry characteristics. Finally, the Ovadia Morellino di Scansano presents a wine from a lesser-known region that with its juicy fruit and fresh acidity is a great compliment to meat, chicken or fish.

When people think of French wines, the great Bordeaux usually come to mind. There is certainly no shortage of great red wines hailing from France, but sometimes an unexpected pleasure can be derived from wine where one least expects it. In this case, from the Rhone region of France comes the Beaumes de Venise Muscat, a white wine that adds complexity and food friendliness to your every day Moscato. Its balance between sweetness and acidity make the Beaumes de Venise a great pairing for salad, gefilte fish or even spicy food such as Moroccan fish or Chinese food. It of course can also be enjoyed with or in place of dessert.

For more new wines keep watching this spot…

Gary Landsman, AKA the “Wine Tasting Guy”, makes, sells, writes about and of course tastes wine. Presently doing PR/Marketing work for Royal Wines, you can contact Gary with any wine related questions at gary@winetastingguy.com.

Red, White & Pink; Kosher Wines for the New Year

Part one of a three part series

The color PINK conjures up many things – cotton candy, newborn baby girls and bubblegum, just to name a few. In the wine world, the color pink has come to garner a bad association – that of cheap, sweet and unsophisticated rose΄ wine. Though it was more salmon in color, I have memories of the sweet, easy drinking, soda-like White Zinfandel.

Today however more and more wine lovers are discovering rose΄. Rose΄ is an incredibly versatile wine that breaks all the rules. Many will argue that rose΄ is not a wine for serious wine drinkers, but on a warm summer day, at the beach, in the backyard, or even for a Shabbat afternoon meal, who needs serious or sophisticated? Give me a wine that will be refreshing, tasty and will enhance my meal and I’m a happy guy. Rose΄ can go with salad, fish (goes great with salmon) and is a crowd pleaser at BBQ’s, pairing wonderfully with burgers.

A new rose΄ that has recently hit the US market from France is the 2008 Domaine LaFond Tavel. This deeply colored rose΄ has a hint of sweetness but just the right amount of acidity to balance it out. Rose pedals, violets and watermelon are some of the aromas and flavors you may find in this wine. Try it with a strawberry salad.

From the Bordeaux region of France and part of the Rothschild wines is the 2008 Rose΄ De Clarke. This light salmon-colored wine is bone dry, with lip smacking acidity and floral aromas. Serve this one with a fish and/or salad appetizer at your next Shabbat/Yom Tov meal.

From California, the 2009 “Pink by W” is part of the “W” collection of wines. Given their easy drinking and affordable price point, the “W” wines have become quite popular since their release a few years ago. This rose΄ has a touch of sweetness and adds strawberry and cherry aromas and flavors. Having a BBQ and not sure what wine to serve? Pink by W will go great with a burger…while the “White by W” & “Red by W” can round out your BBQ wine offerings.

Finally, from Israel and the popular “Yogev” series comes a new rose΄ blend, made from somewhat unusual grapes; Carignan & Malbec. This 2009 Yogev Malbec/Carignan is another deep colored rose΄ offering a bouquet of aromas and flavors including strawberries, violets and bubblegum! Though you can enjoy this wine with fish, meat, pasta or salad, I think I’m going to go throw a bottle on ice and simply enjoy it on its own.

Wine

wine-Vodka
Vodka is best best stored in and served from the freezer. That’s why it’s the perfect summer drink – straight up. It’s ice cold and refreshing – and has that kick. It’s a great way to start Shabbos dinner (after Kiddush of course) and certainly if you have new or unfamiliar guests, it goes a long way towards relaxing them! There are many kosher flavored vodkas but I’m a purist. I find the flavors a little too artificial and prefer adding my own slice of lime or lemon or splash of cranberry juice. And of all the brands we’ve tried – and we’ve tried a lot! – Vox remains our favorite (although we don’t turn down our nose at the others and appreciate that large bottle of Grey Goose that is in our freezer) Vodka can be paired with just about anything. We’d love to hear your suggestions and creations.

Don Julio Anejo

wine-don-julio
There are times – summer afternoons and evenings maybe – where wine may not be your drink of choice. Tequila and tequila-based drinks always conjure up lazy, carefree days. Don Julio Anejo is my husband’s tequila of choice. It is so good that it is wasted in a mixed drink and best on its own – either neat or on the rocks. Use a cheaper brand of tequila to make margaritas that say vacation like few other drinks can! There are now margaritas of every flavor imaginable. I like the basic:

1 ounce Triple Sec
1-½ ounces Tequila
1 ounce lime juice

Shake well and pour into salt-rimmed and ice-filled margarita class. Sit back, pull your sombrero down over your eyes, and relax.

Spring Wines for Shavuot/Dairy Meals

wine

Though light, crisp and refreshing works best in warmer weather, a white wine with a little more body (think heavy cream vs. skim milk) pairs favorably with Shavuot classics such as creamy pastas, blintzes or quiche.  Chenin Blanc is a white varietal whose origin is traced back to the Loire region of France.  Commonly used to make sparkling or dessert wine, Chenin Blanc also makes lovely dry still wine that often possesses pretty floral and tropical aromas.

Baron Herzog uses the Chenin Blanc grape from their Clarksburg vineyard to make two excellent wines that are very reasonable priced.  The 2008 Baron Herzog Chenin Blanc has a touch of sweetness and is an easy drinking wine with floral aromas and delicious apple flavors, making it a terrific pairing for sweet potato soufflé, fettuccini Alfredo or parmesan crusted flounder.

The 2008 Herzog Reserve Late Harvest Chenin Blanc is a wildly complex dessert style wine with an array of gorgeous aromas and flavors.  Quince, kiwi, apricot, Boston cream pie and honey are just a few of the characteristics you may find in this wine.  A perfect complement to pound cake and berries, this wine can also be served in the absence of dessert as dessert itself.

Another great (and more colorful) option for warm weather drinking is rosé.  While red wines get their color from extended contact with the grape skins, rosé gets its color from minimal contact with the skins.  Many rosé wines are actually made from familiar red varietals such as Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese and even Cabernet Sauvignon.

From Israel, the Binyamina winery makes a rosé under its Yogev label.  A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, this reddish-pink wine has tart berry aromas and is a nice option on a warm summer day.  Though not traditional Shavuot fare, this wine makes me crave a summer BBQ and a juicy burger with all the fixings.

Another rosé, this one made in France, is the 2007 Rothschild Rosé de Clarke.  This pinkish-orange tinged wine has fresh strawberry aromas and elegant mineral and fruit flavors.  A pleasant and long finish makes this lovely rosé a worthy companion for those special salmon or tuna steaks.

Just as acidity wakes up the palate, so too do bubbles.  Sparkling wines, such as those from Champagne, affectionately known as “bubbly”, should NOT be reserved only for special occasions.  The CO2 in sparkling wines make them incredibly food friendly, capable of pairing with all kinds of foods.  As an appetizer or dessert, with cold foods or hot and spicy foods, sparkling wines are every food’s best friend.

New to the market is the Herzog Selection Rose’ Brut.  A lovely salmon colored wine made in France, it displays lovely tart berry characteristics.  Look for hints of strawberry, raspberry & cherry – different from red wines, here they will be tart-like, almost as if they were under ripe.  Though this wine can marry nicely with just about all foods, I would suggest pairing it with a spicy dish, or simply enjoying it outside with friends on a sunny day.

Chag Sameach!

Gary Landsman, AKA the “Wine Tasting Guy”, makes, sells, writes about and of course tastes wine.  You can read more of his writings in his blog at www.winetastingguy.com or contact him with any wine related questions at gary@winetastingguy.com.

Shavuot/Spring Wine

Shavuot/Spring Wines

The weather is getting warmer, the days are getting longer – spring is in the air…and Shavuot is almost here! The warm weather and dairy Shavuot meals provide the perfect excuse to pop the corks on the newest vintages of white and rosé wines.

Aside from some oak-aged white wines, most white and rosé wines should be consumed young, while they are fresh and crisp. Which means that when selecting a white or rosé this Shavuot, try to buy wine from recent vintages such as 2007 or younger. Also remember to serve these wines chilled, but not too cold – that can mask some of their aromas. Try removing them from the fridge about 10 minutes prior to drinking.

goose_bay_wine
With its refreshing citrus flavors and lip smacking acidity, Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect pairing for a festive, milchig (dairy) meal. And some of the best examples of Sauvignon Blanc are coming out of New Zealand, where the Goose Bay winery is producing terrific wines. The 2009 Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc has a bright acidity that is sure to make your mouth water. Tart citrus and fresh cut grass aromas, together with the aforementioned acidity, make this versatile food wine an ideal pairing for a salad, sushi or spicy Asian cuisine.

California_Baron_Herzog_Chardonnay
Chardonnay has for years been the go-to white wine for many people. The ultimate Chardonnays are those made in the Burgundian style; aged in new oak barrels and allowed to undergo a secondary fermentation process (known as malolactic fermentation) that leads to a wine with aromas of toast (from the barrels) and butter (from the secondary fermentation). These robust whites are great in the winter time, but can seem a little heavy as the weather warms and the foods we eat are lighter. Recognizing the need for lighter Chardonnay, we are seeing wineries producing Chardonnay that is made without the barrel aging and secondary fermentation, resulting in wine that is lighter and allows the grape’s fruity characteristics to shine through.

The 2007 Baron Herzog Central Coast Chardonnay is crisp and refreshing. Aromas of tropical fruit and chamomile and flavors of apple, pineapple and pear, with a hint of toasty vanilla make this wine an excellent choice for a light lunch of lemon sole and olive cous-cous.

Bordeaux wines are red wine blends made from several grape varietals and some of the most complex wines in the world. Similarly, wineries today are also blending white grapes and the results have been some very interesting wines. Many of these white blends combine the best characteristics of the different grapes so that the whole is better that the individual parts. Thankfully, these white wine blends don’t cost as much as the top red Bordeaux blends.

Israel’s Carmel winery has a crisp and refreshing white blend, the 2009 Carmel “Ridge White”. A blend of four grapes; Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, French Colombard and Semillion, this bright, lively wine has melon, pear and lime aromas and flavors and is a perfect warm weather sipper. Serve this wine chilled with citrus salads, pasta primavera, or fresh fruit salad.

Though light, crisp and refreshing works best in warmer weather, a white wine with a little more body (think heavy cream vs. skim milk) pairs favorably with Shavuot classics such as creamy pastas, blintzes or quiche. Chenin Blanc is a white varietal whose origin is traced back to the Loire region of France. Commonly used to make sparkling or dessert wine, Chenin Blanc also makes lovely dry still-wine that often possess pretty floral and tropical aromas.

Baron Herzog uses the Chenin Blanc grape from their Clarksburg vineyard to make two excellent wines that are very reasonable priced. The 2008 Baron Herzog Chenin Blanc has a touch of sweetness and is an easy drinking wine with floral aromas and delicious apple flavors, making it a terrific pairing for sweet potato soufflé, fettuccini Alfredo or parmesan crusted flounder.

The 2008 Herzog Reserve Late Harvest Chenin Blanc is a wildly complex dessert style wine with an array of gorgeous aromas and flavors. Quince, kiwi, apricot, Boston cream pie and honey are just a few of the characteristics you may find in this wine. A perfect complement to pound cake and berries, this wine can also be served in the absence of dessert as dessert itself.

Another great (and more colorful) option for warm weather drinking is rosé. While red wines get their color from extended contact with the grape skins, rosé gets its color from minimal contact with the skins. Many rosé wines are actually made from familiar red varietals such as Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese and even Cabernet Sauvignon.

From Israel, the Binyamina winery makes a rosé under its Yogev label. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, this reddish-pink wine has tart berry aromas and is a nice option on a warm summer day. Though not traditional Shavuot fare, this wine makes me crave a summer BBQ and a juicy burger with all the fixings.

Another rosé, this one made in France, is the 2007 Rothschild Rosé de Clarke. This pinkish-orange tinged wine has fresh strawberry aromas and elegant mineral and fruit flavors. A pleasant and long finish makes this lovely rosé a worthy companion for those special salmon or tuna steaks.

Just as acidity wakes up the palate, so too do bubbles. Sparkling wines, such as those from Champagne, affectionately known as “bubbly”, should NOT be reserved only for special occasions. The CO2 in sparkling wines make them incredibly food friendly, capable of pairing with all kinds of foods. As an appetizer or dessert, with cold foods or hot and spicy foods, sparkling wines are every food’s best friend.

New to the market is the Herzog Selection Rose’ Brut. A lovely salmon colored wine made in France, it displays lovely tart berry characteristics. Looks for hints of strawberry, raspberry & cherry – but different from red wines, here they will be tart-like, almost as if they were under ripe. Though this wine can marry nicely with just about all foods, I would suggest pairing it with a spicy dish, or simply enjoying it outside with friends on a sunny day.

Wine complements food and completes a meal. Save the grape juice for the kids and indulge in a refreshing glass of wine this yom-tov. But remember that whether white, rosé or a robust red, the most important factor when choosing a wine is finding one that you enjoy.

To purchase these wines and many other kosher selections, go to www.onlinekosherwine.com

Gary Landsman, AKA the “Wine Tasting Guy”, makes, sells, writes about and of course tastes wine. You can read more of his writings in his blog at www.winetastingguy.com or contact him with any wine related questions at gary@winetastingguy.com.