Wine For The Holidays

November 4, 2013

Reviews of the Shiloh Shor Barbera 2009 and 3 Tomatin Single Malt Scotch Whiskies.

Since oil played a significant role in the Chanukah story, oily foods have become traditional during the holiday. So those celebrating both Chanukah and Thanksgiving are likely to have some interesting menu variations this year. Wine, of course, should play an important role.

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Winemakers Who March To A Different Drummer

October 3, 2013

Reviews of the Gvaot Gofna Pinot Noir 2011 and the Laphroaig 10-year-old Single Malt Scotch Whisky.

It is often said the best way to make a small fortune in the wine business is to begin with a large one. Indeed, winemaking is an inherently risky business. The weather, obviously, is unpredictable. Furthermore, wine is subject to complex market forces, stiff global competition and the vagaries of consumer tastes. The prudent approach, it would seem, would be to stick to well-established winemaking formulas and techniques.

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Magic In The Bottle

September 23, 2013

A review of the Agur Kessem 2011 and a look at the latest single malt whiskey releases from Single Cask Nation.

Blending various grape varietals to create a beverage that is greater than the sum of its parts can often seem like magic. Especially after half a bottle.

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Preparing For Fall (Wine)

September 18, 2013

A review of the Ramot Naftaly Shiraz 2010 and several Boulard Calvados.

Sukkot is approaching now, and the prospect of additional lavish entertaining looms large. Time to gather our thoughts, and materials, to build and decorate our sukkot, plan and prepare our meals, and maybe plan and prepare some sage Torah thoughts to share with our family and friends as we celebrate together. So, obviously, we should all also begin to evaluate the state of our wine stash for the upcoming months. If you have any left, it is time to drink up all those young roses and other lighter summery wines. For this is the season, now, of deeper, more complex whites and reds — the kind that have been resting in our dusty cellars (for those who have such) — that taste so much better as the days get shorter. After all, the fall brings cooler weather and the concomitant seasonal produce like squash, pumpkin, various root vegetables and the like. As our seasonal dishes are generally more robust than in summer, our wines should follow suit. But the transition can, and probably should, be gradual — no need to jump right in with big, bold and heavy wines.

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On Balance And Blends

August 20, 2013

The importance of balance in wine with reviews of the Yarden Sauvignon Blanc 2011 and two blended Scotch whiskies; Johnnie Walker Black and Whilte Horse.

One of the most widely sought after descriptions from the mouth, or pen, of a wine critic is the term “balanced.” The term is meant to convey a harmonious interplay between the different components in a wine, including tannins, alcohol, sweetness and acidity. Should any one of these components stand out from the others, that wine would be deemed out of balance, and so in some measure lacking or less than the ideal. Of particular importance in a balanced wine, especially one whose flavors are especially pronounced, are those elements that provide a counterpoint. So for example, fruity or tannic wines are thought to need an acidic balancing counterpoint, to bring the wine together. In the case of a dessert wine, such as a sauterne, acidity is desired to check the wine’s sweetness so that it does not become boringly unctuous like a jam or jelly. Likewise too much acidity would render a wine tart and unappealing. A wine with ideal acidity keeps these other elements in check, and is perceived as cleansing, refreshing and encouraging of another sip. Any wine that does not encourage the imbiber to take another sip, is probably not enjoyable enough to drink anyway.

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Deep In Margaritaville

August 5, 2013

Solving the puzzle of pairing a wine with a summer soup with the Tishbi Gewurztraminer 2010 along with a look at the Margarita.

Among the many joys of summer is seasonal produce hitting the stalls of the numerous farmers’ markets scattered throughout the area. These fresh fruits and veggies typically inspire both professional chefs and adventurous home cooks to try novel recipes or pull out some old family favorites. Matching wines to these occasionally exotic combinations can be a difficult but not an entirely hopeless effort. It is a testimony to the versatility of wine that a pairing can nearly always be found. Among the trickier food-wine pairing challenges is a soup course. Rarely the central course of a meal, soup is often overlooked when selecting wines. Yet in summer, soups are often an opportunity, or even excuse, to showcase the freshness of the season. Some examples include a chunky, tangy gazpacho, a snazzy green pea soup or one made with corn and spicy peppers. Fruit-based soups are also popular in the summer, and equally complicated to pair with wine.

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How To Cool Off A Fried Brain

August 1, 2013

A review of the Tishbi Sauvignon Blanc 2012 and a look at the “Gimlet” cocktail.

Sauvignon blanc is one of our favorite warm weather wines. It is produced around the winemaking world in a number of different styles ranging from dry to very sweet dessert wines. The bright flavors and balanced acidity typical of well-made dry, nonsweet versions of sauvignon blancs pair well with lighter summer fare, including cheeses, salads and even sushi; It makes for delightful backyard deck or picnic sipping. The varietal is thought to have originated in France’s Bordeaux region, and it is widely supposed that it gets its name from the word “sauvage” (wild) and blanc (white) from its early life as an indigenous varietal in the southwest of France. More recently, the grape has flourished and gained a great deal of popularity in New Zealand. Sauvignon blanc’s profile ranges from grassy and herbaceous when grown in warmer climates to gooseberry, melon, citrus and tropical fruits when the vines are in cooler locations.

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Between Red And White

July 11, 2013

A review of the Agur Rosa 2012 and 2 Speyburn Single Malt Scotch Whiskies.

Rosé wines have become increasingly popular. The best embody the brightness of a white wine combined with the complexity usually only found in a red. They range in style from light and bone-dry to fruity and fuller-bodied. Well-crafted rosés are very food-friendly, particularly the graceful lighter ones that match perfectly with such summer fare as salads, grilled fish and the more subtle cheeses. Rosés are most often created by allowing the pressed juice to have only minimal contact with the skins, usually only one to three days. The longer the contact between the juice and the skins, the deeper the color. Another method is known as “saignee” (French for bleeding). Saignee is the term used for when a winemaker, in their endeavor to produce greater intensity in their red wines, will bleed off only a small portion of the (red grape) juice from the crushed grape skins, while the remaining juice stays in contact with the skins. By bleeding off some of this juice from the vat, there will be a greater surface area ratio of skins to juice in the vat, so that more color and possibly even complexity can be extracted from the skins into their future red wine. The lighter juice that was bled off, can then be turned into rosé.

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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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