Chanukah Wish List

December 22, 2014

Our annual Chanukah gift wish list

Our annual Chanukah gift guide begins with a simple but essential accessory for any wine lover, a corkscrew.

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The Best In Value-Priced Wine

September 22, 2014

The Top 10 Kosher wines ($20 or less) and our 5 Favorite Whiskies for the past year.

Last week we listed the Top 10 kosher wines we tasted over the past year that cost $30 or more a bottle. After all, festive holiday meals with family and friends are nigh, so a bit of expensive indulgence is in order. As wine is a necessity in a civilized world, however, we have put together a list of value-priced wines to be enjoyed on a more regular basis, within a more limited budget.

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Liquid Poetry

November 13, 2013

A review of the Tzuba Pinot Noir 2010 and 2 new releases from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

Among our favorite varietals for Thanksgiving is pinot noir. It is a notoriously finicky grape that can be difficult to grow and challenging to vinify, but it’s also responsible for some of the world’s greatest wines. It prefers cooler growing conditions and has been planted nearly everywhere in the world with variable success. Except, of course, in France’s Burgundy region where the resulting wines can become ethereal and profoundly complex.

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A Variety Of Varietals

June 4, 2013

A review of the Balma Venitia Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise 2006 and several bottlings of Bowmore Single Malt Scotch.

Most casual wine drinkers are aware of only a few grape varietals such as Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Malbec and Shiraz. Others may have tried a Riesling, Pinot Gris or Petite Sirah. But there are literally hundreds more varietals that have been made into wines that are stylistically different and extremely enjoyable. All it takes is a willingness to explore the shelves of a well-stocked store and a sense of adventure.
An example is the Muscat, a floral and somewhat spicy, light-bodied varietal that is grown in nearly every wine producing country and may be the oldest domesticated grape. In Italy it becomes Moscato and it is made into Moscatel in Spain. These muscat wines are best enjoyed when young and chilled and they pair wonderfully with lunch and other light fare or as an aperitif.

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The “New Wine” For Jews

November 25, 2012

Covenant Solomon Lot 70

Reviews of the Covenant Solomon Lot 70 Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 and several SMWS single cask Scotch whiskies.

While wine has a pivotal role in Jewish life, whisky and other spirits, especially single malt Scotch whisky, have become quite the rage in shuls all across the country. Rare is the kiddush these days that does not offer at least a cheap single malt. (There are, of course, synagogues that are completely dry – but such institutions are wholly foreign to us – we mean, come on, “dry”? Really, why bother?) Reflecting this trend is the newly formed “Jewish Whisky Company,” an independent bottler that offers single cask whiskies under its “Single Cask Nation” label (www.singlecasknation.com; the first of these whiskies will soon be released, and likely reviewed here).

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Cork It

October 30, 2012

Five Stones

A review of the Five Stones Shiraz 2010 and the SMWS # 23.72 Bruichladdich Single Malt Scotch.

One of the most beloved rituals in the world of wine snobbery is the extraction of the cork. Cork comes from the bark of the cork oak tree, or Quercus Suber that grows in Spain and Portugal. The use of cork as a closure for wine bottles began in ancient times (in Egypt and some parts of Asia, and then also in Greece and Rome), but it was very far from the closure of choice. The success of cork as a closure depends upon its tightly fitting into an opening with a relatively uniform diameter. So it was not until glass bottles were being made with more or less uniform openings, in the 17th century, that cork truly became the closure of choice.

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Making Wine Where Perfume Once Reigned

September 24, 2012

Binyamina Carignan Reserve

A review of the Binyamina Reserve Carignan 2010 and two Mortlach Single Malt Scotch Whiskies.

Israel’s Binyamina Winery began life in 1952, when Hungarian winemaker Joseph Zeltzer immigrated to Israel and established the Eliaz Winery, named for his son who perished in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. The winery’s facilities actually began life as a perfume factory. In 1925 Baron Benjamin de Rothschild built the factory to take advantage of the abundant jasmine that grew in the area. The surrounding village was renamed Binyamina in the Baron’s honor. The enterprise did not prosper, however, and the factory was abandoned in 1937. The abandoned building soon became a “safe house” for the Haganah until independence. Zeltzer’s plans required the intervention of then Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion who had a law passed that permitted the local farmers to sell him grapes rather than to the large Carmel Mizrachi winemaking cooperative. Subsequently Zeltzer released his liquors and brandies under the “Hard Nut” label to honor the PM who was known as a “hard nut to crack.”

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A Long Road To Winemaking

September 4, 2012

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

A review of the Agur Special Reserve 2008 and the Scotch Malt Whisky Society bottling of Glenrothes, #30.68.

Shuki Yashuv, owner and winemaker of Agur Winery in Israel, followed a somewhat convoluted road into wine.

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