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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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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It’s Fall And Time To Reflect – On Booze?

September 2, 2013

A review of the Celler de Capcanes Peraj Petita 2011 kosher wine and the Mackmyra Svensk Swedish Whisky.

It’s that time of year again. The end of summer, the start of fall, and the approaching holidays mark a time of transition. This is traditionally a time of reflection in which we are encouraged to contemplate our decisions and, more importantly, our mistakes — to learn from our actions and misdeeds, and the impact these have had on our lives and on the lives of those we interact with. Hopefully, a little self-knowledge and wisdom has come from these experiences. With additional effort and focus we can hopefully transform and improve ourselves as we recommit to doing it all, at least a little bit, better. We are, of course, talking about booze — choosing the most appropriate drink for the moment.
What? You were expecting something different? Sure, the Yamim Noraim (“Days of Awe”) or “High Holy Days” — as you prefer — augur changes of a more substantive, and sober, personal, reflective, introspective, even metaphysical, level. But our column is called “L’Chaim” not “Torah Thoughts,” got it? No disgruntled letters — please.

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