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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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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From Strength To Strength

March 1, 2012

A review of the Dalton Alma 2009 and two High West Distillery Whiskies.

“May you go from strength to strength” is one of the more common blessings. In the wine and spirits world, “strength” commonly refers to the sometimes controversial subject of alcohol content. In wine, too much alcohol can interfere with how well a wine pairs with food; in spirits, too much dilution interferes with one’s evaluation of that spirits’ character and flavor. Of course, “strength” can also refer to one’s appreciation for the artistry, bravery and longevity of a winery, distillery or brewery.

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‘Sabbatical’ Salutations From Israel

January 25, 2012

Michter's American Whiskey

Reviews of the Yatir Forest 2008, the Michter’s U.S. No. 1 Small-Batch Bourbon, the Michter’s U.S. No. 1 Unblended American Whiskey and the Michter’s U.S. No. 1 Single-Barrel Straight Rye.

The story goes that when David Ben-Gurion was told by his scientific advisors that it would be impossible to plant trees in the northern Negev, he responded by getting new advisors. The result was Israel’s Yatir Forest, the 30-square-mile woodland along the southern slope of Mount Hebron. There are more than 4 million trees thriving in the Yatir Forest. Planted under the direction of Yosef Weitz and the Jewish National Fund, the Yatir Forest has become an international model of desert reclamation and ecologically healthy responses to climate change.

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Not Wild About Eating Pig? How About Sipping It Neat?

September 28, 2011

Tzora Misty Hills

A review of the Tzora Misty Hills 2007, the WhistlePig Straight Rye Whiskey and the Pig’s Nose Blended Scotch Whisky.

At this time of year, our thoughts inevitably return to the fundamentals of living a meaningful Jewish life. As this is a booze column, we therefore turn our wine thinking for the High Holidays toward eretz Yisrael. An outstanding on-the-ground guide to the growing Israeli wine scene is Oded Shoham, the CEO of the “Israel Wine Experience,” a company that provides Israeli winery tours, wine tastings, food pairings and lectures that can be geared for any level of interest.

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Summertime And The Sipping Is Easy

July 13, 2011

Bulleit Rye

A review of the Cantine del Borgo Pinot Grigio 2010 and the Bulleit Rye Whiskey.

Pinot grigio is an ideal wine for summer sipping. One of Italy’s most popular white wines, the best Italian pinot grigios originate from the Alto-Adige, Veneto and Friuli regions. Recently a number of very good ones are being produced in other countries including the U.S., in California and Oregon, where they are often called pinot gris.

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