Not So Royal Tokaji

July 29, 2015

Review of Château Guiraud Sauternes 2001, Clear Creek Distillery Slivovitz Blue Plum Brandy and Mosby Kosher Plum Brandy Slivovitz .

Known as “the King of wines and the wine of Kings,” Tokaji may be losing some of its regal bearing.

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Italy’s Piedmont Region Yields Truffles, Terrific wines

April 13, 2015

Reviews of the recently released wines from the Luca Bosio Vineyards.

There is clearly something magical in the soil of Italy’s Piedmont region. In addition to being a source of the highly esteemed white truffle, it is also the region where the Nebbiolo grape is transformed into Barolo and Barbaresco, two of Italy’s greatest wines. Like the elusive truffle, the best examples of these wines are pricey, with many costing hundreds of dollars. For those who are intrigued but lack the finances and forbearance to purchase Nebbiolo wines from the more famous Barolo and Barbaresco producers, there are more reasonably priced alternatives.

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A Sweet New Year

September 29, 2014

Review of Miharmartif “Antique Red Sweet Wine” and several Boulard Calvados.

During Rosh Hashanah we traditionally pray and wish for a “good and sweet new year.” Keeping with this theme, we thought we’d recommend a sweeter, dessert-style wine at the conclusion of the meal. Spirits-wise, for an elegant and enjoyable change of pace, we thought we’d stick with the apples and honey sentiment and once again reconsider a fine premium calvados.

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Make The Most Of Your Oregon Wine Trek

March 27, 2014

A look at the delightful wines from Oregon’s Sokol Blosser and R. Stuart & Co. wineries.

If the drive from Portland to McMinnville in Oregon’s Willamette Valley wine country only takes you an hour, then you have missed several opportunities to taste some of the region’s exquisite wines while enjoying spectacular views of the surrounding vistas and valley.

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Fungus Among Us Produces A Distinctive Dessert Wine

March 17, 2014

Reviews of the Château Guiraud Sauternes 2001 and 2 whiskies from Maker’s Mark.

It has been said that the first person to eat a tomato was the bravest person in culinary history. We’ve heard similar comments about the first person to milk a cow and the first to consume raw fish. While we will never know the veracity of such claims, in the world of wine there is a similar “first” hero myth: the first winemaker to use grapes infected by fungus to make wine. We don’t really know when this started either, though the first clear mention of wine made from fungus infected grapes is from around 1576.

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Port Helps Beat Winter Blahs

February 4, 2014

A look at Port including a review of Shiloh Fort Dessert Wine along with a review of Booker’s Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.

Port is an ideal way to offset the winter doldrums. Now authentic Port comes only from Portugal. It is made from various varieties of very foreign-sounding grapes grown in the Douro Valley region of Portugal. Port is a typically heavy, rich, sweet, high-alcohol (usually 18-20 percent abv) wine not only due to the type of grapes used, but also because it is fortified; the winemakers add some measure of distilled grape spirits (a local brandy known as “aguardiente” or fire water) to fortify the wine with an artificially higher alcohol content which, in turn, immediately kills the yeast cells, halting the fermentation process before the grapes’ remaining sugar is converted into alcohol. The wine then gets aged in one of two basic processes, depending on style (and eventual price).

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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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Of Booze And Bores

August 26, 2013

A review of the Bartenura Moscato and Cutty Sark Blended Scotch Whisky.

Wine is much too important to be taken too seriously. Wine is simply a beverage of refreshment. Little more than a wonderfully natural, and alcoholic, way to quench one’s thirst and enliven things a bit, and it has been since ancient times. Yet wine also lends itself to enthusiasm, and so to fixation. In his introduction to Kingsley Amis’ Everyday Drinking, the late Christopher Hitchens noted the “fact” that alcohol “makes other people, and indeed life itself, a good deal less boring.” This in no way means “that there are not wine bores, single-malt bores, and people who become even more boring when they themselves have a tipple.” Too true. Alas.

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Shaken, Not Stirred

November 14, 2012

Herzog Late Harvest Orange Muscat

A review of the Herzog Late Harvest Orange Muscat 2011 and a look at the Martini.

We are often asked how and why kosher wine in the United States began as sweet, syrupy drek. The simplest answer is that the Jewish immigrants who settled in the northeastern United States way back when discovered that the only locally available grapes suitable for wine production were American varietals like the Concord grape. The only way to make the wine both palatable and easy to produce, however, was to add a huge amount of sugar to the grape juice – it aided fermentation and improved the taste of the product.

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