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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Wine For “Thanksgivukah”

October 31, 2013

Reviews of the Dovev Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 and the latest release of Kilchoman Scotch Whisky.

This year, due to the distinct dynamics of the secular and Jewish calendars, Chanukah is the day before Thanksgiving (the first night of Chanukah is erev Thanksgiving, which means that the first day of Chanukah is also Thanksgiving day; so those who celebrate both will be lighting the second night and then fressing at their Thanksgiving feast).“Thanksgivukah?” “Turkukah”? Whatever. This overlap of American Jewish life has given us turkey-shaped menorahs and mash-up songs that combine lyrics that embody both holidays. It also means that, for many, there is likely to be a similar convergence of menus for the American national holiday meal with latkes appearing side-by-side with turkey, stuffing and sweet potatoes. It can be a challenge to find an appropriate wine to match. Over the next several weeks, we will look at various ways to include wine in this year’s celebrations.

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Johnnie Walker Platinum – Unsurprisingly Good

October 29, 2013

Reviews of the Terrenal Tempranillo 2010 and the new Johnnie Walker Platinum Blended Scotch Whisky.

During the past several years, kosher wines have received numerous accolades and have garnered praise from prominent wine critics and publications. But those who need further proof that kosher wines are firmly part of the mainstream wine world need look no further than their local Trader Joe’s specialty grocery stores. Kosher-anything at Trader Joe’s is regional (they have locations in 30 states), and not all regions carry the same products or even carry wine. For those that do, look for their kosher wine exclusives (for those that don’t, talk to the store manager). Trader Joe’s features some might tasty kosher wines and at mighty fine bang for your buck.

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Wine Labels: A Sticky Situation

October 24, 2013

Wine labels are unnecessarily confusing. A few changes would make them more consumer friendly and help facilitate sales.

Wine labels are funny things. With the hundreds of unique winemaking varietals, numerous different methods and an entire world of distinctive regions, you would think that wine labels would be designed to be models of clarity in order to assist a consumer in making an educated purchase. If only that were true.

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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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Labors Of Love

September 30, 2013

Reviews of the B.R. Cohn Trestle Glen Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, the Agua Dulce Winery Syrah 2010, and the Angel’s Envy Rye Whiskey.

Beyond all the many good-to-excellent kosher wineries out there slaking the growing thirst of the kosher consumer, we always enjoy it when some well-established and prestigious nonkosher winery gets in on the act and produces a limited batch of kosher wines. These days, as often as not, these limited run wines are pet projects of the winery — more a labor of love by the producer, than a contract-fulfillment for someone wanting to market the next “hot” kosher Bordeaux or whatever.

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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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Break Your Fast Libation Suggestions

September 12, 2013

Libations to accompany the break-fast including two kosher wines from Hagafen and the Bunnahabhain Toiteach Single Malt Scotch Whisky.

Every family seems to have its own traditions when it comes time to breaking the fast. Usually a milchik (diary) or pareve (neutral) meal, the dishes might range from one relative’s treasured lokshen kugel (egg noodle pudding) to another’s prized blintzes, to a table laden with various vorspeis (appetizers) of fish (various picked herrings, white fish salad, lox, etc.) along with cream cheese and bagels. Typically there will be plenty of desserts or at least sweet foods, such as honey or jams — serving as both reminder and ardent wish of life’s sweetness and the promise of the New Year. Usually there will also be eggs, recalling the cycle of life. Delicious and nostalgic, yes, but this is essentially breakfast fare — that is, these menus are not exactly screaming for wine.

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