A Spanish Wine For Every Course

April 17, 2014

Reviews of Capcanes Flor del Flor de Primavera 2010 and some Kosher for Passover Spirits.

Until a few decades ago, Spanish wines were discounted as not worthy of attention to those outside of Spain. But things began to shift: an improving economy in the 1980s, an influx of innovative winemakers, and an expansive rejig of wine-production regulations.

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A Chianti Fit For The Seder Table

April 1, 2014

Review of the Terra di Seta Chianti Classico Reserva 2009 and a look at the feud over Tennessee Whiskey.

Mention Chianti to most folks and they are as likely to imagine squat, straw basket enclosed bottles of wine used as candlesticks, covered in multicolored wax drippings as the wine itself. Yet Chianti is so much more than this. Chianti is a picturesque region of Tuscany where castles, terrific food and some outstanding wines are plentiful.

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Shifting From Red To White

January 21, 2014

A look at the growing emphasis on white wines in Israel including a review of the Flam Blanc 2012 along with a look at the purchase of Beam, Inc. by Suntory.

It has been interesting to observe the subtle but steady shift in emphasis from red to white wine occurring in Israeli winemaking. The country certainly produces a number of flavorful, enjoyable, compelling and occasionally even truly outstanding red wines. But now there seems to be a growing appreciation of the potential inherent in white grapes when grown in the Mediterranean climate. In this regard, there are some remarkable similarities to Greek winemaking.

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Alinea: Connoisseur’s Dream Is Just A Short Flight Away

September 9, 2013

The artistry at Alinea extends to their wine pairings.

Inventive, exciting, imaginative, fascinating, thrilling, exceptional, delicious, amazing … the list of superlatives used to describe dinner at Alinea is nearly as long as the drive from O’Hare to the restaurant’s location in Chicago’s Lincoln Park district. At Alinea a refined, exquisitely prepared meal is transformed into performance art where the chef, staff and diner are each intimately involved in the entire experience. It is no easy feat to match wines with ingredients as varied as rabbit, cherry blossom, wasabi and smoke. The courses dance from light and airy (green apple taffy balloon) to multifaceted and profound, each designed to require the diners to interact with the preparations. This makes the wine pairings even more difficult since there are often multiple options within each course that provide different intensities and sequences of flavors. Not surprisingly, the talented team at Alinea made outstanding wine selections that both complemented and enhanced the evening’s multiple dishes.

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Neo-Prohibitionists: Hands Off Our Hooch

August 12, 2013

More governmental efforts to restrict access to our favorite spirits, wine and beer by blocking privatization.

We have written in the past about the byzantine-seeming regulatory patchwork of alcohol laws in this country. Every so often, folks seek to change this regulatory system in the name of freedom and consumer choice, and while progress of a sort has been made in this or that locale, there remains a very long way to go. Even though Prohibition ended with the passage of the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on Dec. 5, 1933, more than a dozen states today still maintain monopoly control over the sale and/or distribution of distilled spirits — and some still over beer and wine. Most states do not do so, and the idea that monopoly control of some aspect of booze is justifiably a core function of government is silly. Worse, however, is that they further limit product choice, increase costs and generally annoy us consumers.

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In A Rye Mood

July 9, 2013

Reviews of the Hagafen Napa Valley Syrah 2009, the Russell’s Reserve 6 Year Old Small Batch Rye, and the Angel’s Envy Rye Whiskey.

It seems most appropriate to select an American-made wine when celebrating Independence Day. The holiday also gives us another opportunity to acknowledge one of the country’s finest winemakers, who also happens to limit his production to kosher wines. Ernie Weir, the founder and winemaker of Napa’s Hagafen Cellars, has for years created notable wines that have won numerous awards, including competitions against nonkosher contenders. His wines are another compelling argument against a “kosher wine” shelf since consumers deserve to be exposed to wines of this quality. They should sit next to similar varietals and not be relegated to an unused corner of the store. And observant customers will either be shopping at a store that only has kosher wines or will look for a hechsher no matter where the bottle is displayed. Having again made our case to liberate kosher wines from the tyranny of display prejudice, we can focus on a wine for the summer holiday.

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Drinking Wine For “Lone Soldiers”

July 8, 2013

Reviews of the Ariel Sauvignon Blanc 2012, the Catoctin Creek Organic Roundstone Rye Whisky and the Koval Single Barrel Four Grain Whiskey.

The Lone Soldier Project connects those who serve in the IDF with people and organizations that can offer support through letters, packages and donations. It has centers in Jerusalem, Haifa and Tel Aviv dedicated to the memory of Michael Levin, a Philadelphia native who perished in Lebanon in 2006 while serving as a paratrooper in the IDF. The centers provide counseling and other programs to address the social, physical and emotional needs of the Lone Soldiers before, during and after their service.

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Kosher Food And Wine Experience

February 27, 2013

A review of the Hagafen Riesling 2012 and several whiskies including Angel’s Envy, the Tomintoul 10-year-old single malt and two single malts from Glengoyne.

The 2013 Kosher Food and Wine Experience was held in NYC earlier this month. This annual tasting event is one of the best opportunities-along with their tasting events in London and Los Angeles-to sample the latest kosher wines and spirits distributed by the Herzog family’s Royal Wine Corp. also known as Kedem, the world’s largest importer, producer and distributor of kosher table wines.

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Gift Guide For Wine Connoisseurs Offers Good Words, Good Cheer

November 21, 2012

Iconic Spirits

Some recently published books that would be perfect gifts for the wine-lovers on your list.

A veritable feast of new publications are this year’s recommendations for holiday gifts for wine lovers, beginning with “Iconic Spirits — An Intoxicating History,” by Mark Spivak, the former host of NPR’s “Uncorked” and a prolific writer on food, wine and spirits.

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