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This Years Rosh Hashanah Wine Pairings

8/26/2018 7:35:43 PM     Jewish Holidays and Celebrations     By Scott     Comments

As the summer is winding down, it’s time to start thinking about the High Holidays. With the growing trend towards better food, better wine and a better understanding of how they’re intertwined, let’s discuss our Rosh Hashanah pairings. Rosh Hashanah is a day focused on structure and tradition, and the food served generally echoes that feel. However, even traditional foods can have a classic flavor profile or take a more modern approach to the flavor, and it is the same with wine as well. Below we’ve selected the perfect complementing wine to each of your classic Rosh Hashanah foods.

Circle Challah:

On Rosh Hashanah, we put honey on our challah for a sweet New Year. Whether your challah is round as per the custom, or a simple braid, we’re looking for the perfect matching wine. We want to make sure that the wine will be sweet enough to pair well with the honey and not leave the wine tasting bitter and acidic. We would recommend the Rambam Moscato Rose here - it’s a rosé with just a hint of sweetness that will be a great start to the meal and beautiful accompaniment to the challah and honey.


While we eat gefilte fish year-round on Shabbat, on Rosh Hashanah we specifically eat a fish head, so we’ll have a good year (heads and not tails). For the fish you’ll want a wine that has plenty of flavor and acid to carry the fish taste while not overpowering it. In this case, I would go with the Mony "M" Colombard.  This light and crisp wine packs a punch of acid but is still light enough to enjoy with a fish course.

Roasted Chicken:

If you have fond memories of having a whole roasted chicken on Rosh Hashanah night, complete with herbs, vegetables and all the good trimmings. This hearty meal calls for a hearty wine, and the Odem Reserve Cabernet Sauvignonis just the thing! This wine is full-bodied and flavorful. It has just enough of a green character to match the herbs of the chicken, and enough of a body to pair well with this your main dish.


This Rosh Hashanah staple dish is made of carrots, sweet potatoes, and prunes and is a personal favorite. The earthy root vegetables have a tinge of sweetness and spice and pairs perfectly with chicken or meat. I would recommend pairing this traditional dish with the Mony "M" Wave Semi Sweet. This red is made from grapes that portray a very earthy character while having enough acid to balance the sweetness of the dish.

Meat Roast:

What’s a Yom Tov meal without the classic meat roast? Whether it’s brisket, corned beef, or any other type of meat roast, you’ll probably meet this a few times throughout the holidays. For the roast we’re looking for a big flavorful wine, one that can stand up to any meat dish your heart desires. The Tanya Limited 38 is a perfect match with its silky tannins and big oak flavors. Decant the wine, serve the meat and awesome!

Apple Kugel/Strudel:

Apples and Rosh Hashanah go hand in hand, so we must not forget our apple dish. Is the apple kugel served as a sweet side dish or a delicious strudel dessert in your home? For now, we’ll view it as a dessert, so the wine will pair accordingly. The Rambam Moscato Blue is a sweet wine that’s a perfect fit. It’s made from Muscat grapes and has some baked apple notes, which will match beautifully with your sweet apple dish.










The Jewish Link Recommends: Great Wines for the Four Cups

3/22/2018 9:12:24 PM     Jewish Holidays and Celebrations     By Elizabeth Kratz     Comments

With a lot of help from my discerning and talented wine-tasting team, we sought wines that are light enough to drink a glass or two, but meaningful enough to enjoy and sustain us through the marathon Seder repast, arguably the meal of the year where wine shares the starring role alongside matzah. In addition to seeking fruity, quaffable wines that wouldn’t fatigue our taste buds before the Seder’s second cup, we looked for Seder wines in two ways: for those that are extremely impressive and worth spending a little more, perhaps for those bringing wine as host gifts; and second, for wines that are as enjoyable as they are affordable. We sampled wines from near and far and included two wonderful bottles from California in our recommendations, with the rest being Israeli—so we can show our support for our brothers and sisters in Israel who have preceded us in living the dream that concludes our Seder: this year in Jerusalem.

The Herzog Lineage Pinot Noir 2016 ($15.74 at Wine Country) is a great wine for the first cup. “It’s light, not too heavy, but it’s not your typical pinot; it’s smooth, with no sour notes,” said Yeruchum. “Hints of black cherry, fruity on the front, and dry with some clove and chocolate notes on the back,” said Chana. “It’s oakey and light, so it’s a great Seder wine,” said Ari. “Very drinkable and smooth; I could definitely drink this at the Seder,” said Michal. A soft wine with even a hint of cinnamon, this will appeal to many palates and is a good choice for both newcomers to wine and for those who drink a glass every week. “I like the whole line of Herzog Lineage,” said Randi, referring to Herzog’s new line of higher-end select wines at more entry-level prices.

The Twin Suns Special Edition Mourvèdre 2015 ($34.00, available at FillerUp) comes from California’s central coast. The joint project by Shirah’s Shimon and Gabriel Weiss and The River’s Ami and Larissa Nahari shines beautifully with this delicious, plummy wine. The mourvèdre grape is not often presented as its own varietal in kosher wines, though it is gaining in popularity, but is most often tasted as a component varietal in GSM blends (grenache, syrah, mourvèdre), which is a lovely, historic blend made by many French-trained winemakers in Israel. This wine has heavy fruity notes of blueberry, spice, particularly vanilla, as well as smoke and black pepper. “This is smooth, and perfect for the fourth kos,” said Ari. “This I love,” said Brooke.

For those looking for a rosè for the Seder, one needn’t look further than Israel’s Shiloh Rosè 2017 ($17.99 at Wine Country). This beautiful light-raspberry-colored wine has grapefruit notes with little to no acidity. Served cold, it’s extremely refreshing and perfect for those looking for a lighter start to their Seder, or to pair with fish. “This is also a good choice for a fourth cup when you’re too full for a heavier wine,” said Chana. This is also a great idea to serve at or bring to a Pesach lunch meal.

The Gilgal Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($11.24) might be the nicest, most affordable cabernet we’ve had in a long time. “This is a fantastic Israeli wine made by a quality winemaker,” said Yeruchum, noting that Gilgal is the budget-friendly label of the Golan Heights Winery. The low cost, however, should not put anyone off, as it has the highest quality-to-price ratio than any of us have seen in a long time. “It has good depth typical of a cabernet, a deep ruby color, and its aging in small French oak barrels for 12 months gave it a wonderful, thicker viscosity, which is rare for a bottle of its cost. A nose of ripe raspberry, cherry and plum, it has a sustaining finish and lovely tannins. This is a great wine for the Seder, and the low price means you can buy more of it.

The Yarden 2T 2014 ($23.99), which is a blend of two Portuguese varietals grown in the Golan Heights: 69 percent touriga nacional and 31 percent tinta cao. The wines was barrel-aged for 18 months, proving beautiful fruity notes of wild berry, blueberry, tobacco leaves, buttery toasted oak, cassis, plum and violet. There were little to no tannins. “This is a drinkable Seder wine, plummy and oakey,” said Brooke. “I never tasted tobacco leaves before; it’s nice,” said Randi. “This is one of the more interesting varietals that are being brought into Israel,” said Yeruchum.

The Beit El Magestique Reserve 2014 ($37.99 at Wine Country) is made of 100 percent cabernet sauvignon, culled from vineyards around the mineral-rich terroir of Beit El, where Jacob Avinu dreamed of the ladder of melachim. This wine is the first of all of Beit El’s reserve wines, made by world-famous kosher wine consultant Lewis Pasco along with owner Hillel Manne. It is an incredibly warm, special wine with a beautiful, elegant structure and nose of dark, tart berries, chocolate and cherries. It has lovely bracing tannins. This earthy wine is so well-made that it really should be saved for special occasions, but since it’s on sale I might just invest in a case. “This is an impressive wine for a meal,” said Brooke.

The Galil Mountain 
Winery Yiron 2014
 ($23.24) is considered a rare red blend, comprised of 56 percent cabernet sauvignon, 32 percent merlot, 7 percent syrah and 5 percent petit verdot. Fruit-forward, with strong notes of cherries and berries along with dried herbs, the wine would be perfect to go along with a meal of roasted beef or pepper-crusted steak. This is the type of wine that can stand up to steak, and the round notes of merlot soften the cabernet to provide a hint of sweetness.


Kosher Wines – Dayenu!

3/21/2018 11:12:03 AM     Jewish Holidays and Celebrations     By Gabe Geller     Comments

Pesach is now around the corner! I cannot even count how many times a day I’m being asked these questions: Which wines should I get for Pesach? Which wines are good for Arba Kosos? On Pesach, we rejoice and thank Hashem for granting us freedom. Freedom from our long enslavement to Mitzrayim, a foreign, immoral idols-worshiping nation. From then on, we have been free to serve Hashem and follow his Torah and Mitzvos. As well, our freedom has enabled us to nowadays produce and enjoy an ever-growing selection of quality kosher wines.

As every mitzvah in the Torah, the halachos of the Pesach Seder never change. There are, of course, different opinions and interpretations as to the right shiur, the amount of wine that we should drink for the kosos and how fast we should be drinking it. There are also several opinions and minhagim as to the right type of wine for this mitzvah: red or white? Is Mevushal ok? I am not a rabbi and therefore I will not pretend to pasken here what is right and what is wrong.

While there are indeed different minhagim for which wine to drink at the Seder, one thing stays the same for everybody: We have to drink 4 cups of wine (or grape juice, if you and your rabbi are OK with that). Considering the fairly large amount that represents, I believe a strategy is required as to avoid getting overwhelmed, intoxicated and/or, chas v’shalom, sick.

As well, while the Torah does not change, wine does. The selection of kosher wine Baruch Hashem constantly changes and grows, as do the best wines evolve, change, and sometimes improve as they age when properly stored. Every year, new wines and vintages are released, just on time for the big Pesach sale. I recommend the two following strategies:

– This is what I personally do for the Sedarim: For the first and the last 2 cups, I go with a rosé wine. According to most opinions, rosé is just a shade of red and counts as such as it is made from red wine grape varieties. The winemaker, using a special method (there are a few but the goal is roughly the same) controls how red he/she wants the wine to look like by limiting the contact between the must, the grape juice, and the grape’s skin from which the color comes. Some of the rosé wines I will use this year: the delightful Flam Rosé, with its notes of tart strawberries and herbaceous undertones. The Jezreel Valley Rosé is also a mouth-watering pink Israeli wine which I am planning to enjoy for the 4 kosos. Good rosés do not come exclusively from Israel, and I am also looking forward to drink Les Lauriers de Rothschild Rosé which comes from Bordeaux, in France. For the second cup and Shulchan Orech, I like to drink with the yom tov meal a well-aged red wine. One particularly good memory is the magnum (contains 1.5 liter, like 2 regular bottles) of Castel Grand Vin 2002 which 2 years ago was enough for both Sedarim. This year, for the second Seder, I am looking forward to enjoy a mature bottle of Château Fourcas Dupré. The latest release, the 2015 vintage now on the shelves should be a keeper, as well.

– The second strategy is simple. You start with a light wine. It can also be a rosé, such as the Tabor Adama Barbera Rosé, but it can also be a Pinot Noir, such as the Vitkin Pinot Noir, or the new Pinot Noir from the top QPR series Herzog Lineage. It is light in body and easy to drink yet flavorful. Then, you work your way up and move on to a fuller-bodied wine such as the Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 6 from the Chalk Hill appellation in Sonoma, California. It is wonderfully rich and layered, with complex, black fruit and mineral aromas as well as a long and plush finish. You can then move back to your Pinot Noir or a different lighter wine for the third cup such as Capçanes La Flor del Flor Garnatxa. This is a superb Grenache from Spain which is elegant and oh, so refined. Then, for the 4 th cup, either keep going with the Capçanes or if you can handle it, a sweet wine. The Porto Cordovero LBV for instance, truly an amazing wine. Port wines are heavy, high in alcohol and therefore not the first choice for most people. But the sweetness and balance allow for an easy drinking experience which should ensure a deep sleep once the Seder is all wrapped up.

I hope these guidelines will help you achieve a great Pesach Sedarim experience. If the aforementioned wines were the only great ones we had access to for Pesach, dayenu! Pesach kasher v’sameyach! L’chaim!


Rock Your Purim Seudah With Subtle Wines

2/22/2018 9:23:28 PM     Jewish Holidays and Celebrations     By Gabe Geller     Comments

Subtle wines on Purim? Sounds a little strange, no? The Purim Seudah requires abundance of responsible drinking (please do not drive afterwards, or have a designated driver accompany you if you are going to friends or family). When drinking big, bold, full-bodied wines one’s palate often gets tired quickly, losing the ability of enjoying more wines after a glass or two.

The solution, I believe, is to broaden your horizons. Sure, with the mitzvah of the Seudah and drinking Ad d’lo yada (to the point one would not be able to tell apart Haman the Persian tyrant from Mordechai the tzadik), Purim is one of the main “wine holidays.”

We learn from Megillat Esther that even when God is not intervening as obviously and publicly as he is with the makot (the 10 plagues of Egypt) or kriyas yam suf (the splitting of the Red Sea), he nonetheless never abandons Am Yisrael, the Jewish people. To the contrary, Haman had plotted to hang Mordechai and eradicate the Jewish People. God however did v’nahafoch hu, he turned Haman’s plans upside down. Haman was hung on the gallows he had built to hang Mordechai, and the Jewish people fought back and won against the mighty Persian army.

So here with wine, let’s do v’nahafoch hu and turn things around, as well. Instead of opening the bottles you have been stashing away for special occasions, keep them for the upcoming Yomim Tovim and go for more approachable, somewhat lighter wines.

I recently had the opportunity to taste many new and interesting wines. Herzog Wine Cellars just came out with Lineage, a series of high-value wines that includes a lovely Chardonnay with tropical fruit notes and subtle creaminess—delicious.

Tabor winery has a lovely, off-dry Mount Tabor Gewürztraminer that is light as a feather, fragrant and restrained with hints of lychee, white peach and rose petals.

Nadiv is a relatively new winery in the Judean Hills. They make fruit-forward wines, showcasing very well the unique richness of Israel’s ancient terroir. Starting with the newly released 2016 vintage, their wines are overseen by veteran winemaker Pierre Miodownick, who for over three decades produced some of the best kosher wines to ever come out of Europe. Miodownick’s experience combined with the Israeli sunshine and soil have yielded the Matan. The Nadiv Matan is a smooth blend that is medium in body and features an elegant mouth-feel with notes of red forest berries, as well as Mediterranean herbs.

Jezreel Valley has an unusual wine made from Argaman, a grape variety that is indigenous to Israel where it was created in the 1970s, a hybrid of the French-Spanish Carignan and the Portuguese Sousão. While the previous vintage was a bit on the heavy side, the newly released 2016 is more restrained and nuanced, making it even more interesting and pleasant to sip. It truly provides an intriguing drinking experience and I highly recommend you check it out!

Mishenichnas Adar marbim b’simcha! When the month of Adar comes in, we shall rejoice! These wines will definitely play their part. Purim Sameach!


Celebrate Tu B’Shevat: Pair Israeli Reds With Seven Species Recipes

2/17/2018 10:55:30 AM     Jewish Holidays and Celebrations     By Scott     Comments

A sustainable winemaker, Galil Mountain Winery, imported in the U.S. by Yarden Inc., which also imports wines from Golan Heights Winery, suggested its Galil Ela 2014 and Galil Alon 2013 wines for the holiday of Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish new year for trees, which this year begins the evening of Jan. 30 and continues through Jan. 31.

Galil Mountain currently produces 12 wines—nine reds, two whites and a rosé. It is recommending two of its robust reds blends for Tu B’Shevat, since they pair ideally with the holiday’s traditional foods—dried fruits and nuts such as almonds, apples, dates, dried apricots, figs and walnuts. It is also traditional to prepare other foods derived from the seven species in the holiday’s biblical origins, such as granola and granola cookies. The seven species are listed in the Torah as special products from Eretz Yisrael; they are wheat, barley, grape, fig, pomegranate, olive and date (honey).

Galil Mountain, which practices sustainable winemaking, positions itself as the ideal winery for this holiday’s festivities, priding itself on its small carbon footprint and strong relationship with the environment. Located on one of the highest peaks in the northernmost region of the Galilee, the winery is powered by solar energy and features local wild vegetation on the building’s roof to power energy for the barrel hall beneath, reducing its electrical use by half over the past three years.

Alon is a blend of 41 percent cabernet sauvignon, 35 percent syrah, 17 percent cabernet franc and 7 percent petit verdot, and was aged in oak barrels for 12 months. It is a beautiful deep purple, with prominent aromas of plum and blueberry jam, with a lovely oaky finish. The Alon is a full-bodied wine with well-balanced flavors, pleasant tannins. The little bit of sediment only added to its eco-friendly charm.

Ela is a blend of 61 percent barbera, 30 percent syrah and 9 percent petit verdot. It is dark red in color, with aromas of ripe red fruit and green pepper, with characters of plum, sour cherry and herbs, along with notes of butter and oak. It is a medium-to-full-bodied wine, with a long-lasting finish.

“What better way to celebrate perhaps the original environmentally friendly holiday than with Galil Mountain’s sustainably crafted wines?” asked Dorit Ben Simon, international marketing manager for Yarden Inc. “These wines not only symbolize our commitment to building green winemaking in Israel, but they also happen to pair beautifully with the holiday’s traditional foods.”

Galil Mountain also composts its organic waste, maintains a sewage treatment system, uses recyclable packaging materials and lighter bottles for its wines while recycling other packing materials and has reduced its use of detergents and replaced them with environmentally friendly cleaners. The winery also relies on organic farming in its vineyards.


Chardonnay: Apples And Honey In A Wine

1/21/2018 11:58:15 AM     Jewish Holidays and Celebrations     By Gamliel Kronemer     Comments

Every year, as Rosh Hashanah approaches, I look for special wines to serve at my holiday table. I used to select big, full-bodied, red wines; however in recent years I’ve found that after a long morning in a stuffy synagogue, a chilled, refreshing, white wine, really hits the spot. On special occasions such as Rosh Hashanah, one good choice of white wine is almost always the deservedly popular Chardonnay.

Chardonnay is the great white wine grape of Burgundy and Champagne, and in recent decades Chardonnay has become the world’s most popular, and most planted, white wine grape. Chardonnay is a very versatile grape, which can grow in a wide range of climates, and produce wines is a wide range of styles: from light and elegant, to big and oaky, from dry and bubbly, to sweet and heavy. Although Chardonnay produces a wide range of flavors, two of the most common are flavors which are associated with Rosh Hashanah—apples and honey.

In preparation for Rosh Hashanah I have identified five delectable kosher Chardonnays, made in a wide variety of styles, all of which should be special enough to serve at your holaday table.

Hagafen Vineyards, Reserve Chardonnay, Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley, 2015. Prix, Chardonnay, Reserve, Napa Valley, 2007: When most Americans think of Chardonnay, they think of the New-World Chardonnays from northern California, and this wine is one of the best kosher exemplars of this style currently available. Tawny-straw in color, with a medium-to-full body, this wine has a charming bouquet of apples, heather, and toasty oak, leather, with just a whiff of citrus, and a slight but pleasant note of funk. Look for flavors of baked apples, quince, honey, oak, and freshly churned cream, with notes of lemon and grapefruit mid palate, and just a light touch of spice on the finish. With rich mouth feel, this Chardonnay is drinking very well now and should continue to do so for at least another three years. Score A-

Herzog, Special Reserve, Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, 2015: Another excellent Californian Chardonnay, this particular vintage of Herzog’s reliably enjoyable Chardonnay is truly unique. Aged eighteen months in a mixture of French and American oak barrels, this dark-straw colored, medium bodied wine has a tropical-cocktail like bouquet of apples, pineapples, bananas, and coconut. Look for a creamy mouthfeel, and flavors of apples and key limes at the front of the palate, and flavors of banana and coconut towards the back of the palate. Ready to drink now, this wine should cellar well until the end of the decade. Score B+

Pascal Bouchard, Chabils, la Classique, 2016 [Kosher Edition]: Burgundy’s Chablis region is home one of the most traditional, and arguably one of the very best, expressions of Chardonnay—and this particular bottling is good example of that traditional expression. Crisp and bone dry, this light-straw colored, medium bodied, elegant wine has a bouquet redolent of apples, gooseberries, Meyer lemons, hay, and cream, with herbal and earthy notes in the background. The flavor is both subtle and complex with apples, quince and gooseberries at the front of the palate, a light creamy note mid-palate, a citrusy finish, and good mineral content. This vintage is Pascal Bouchard’s best kosher release in a decade. Drink now until 2020 and perhaps a bit longer. Score A/A-

Matar, by Pelter, Chardonnay, Golan Heights/Judean Hills, 2014: Made from Chardonnay grapes grown in vineyards in the Golan Heights and in the Judean Hills, this straw colored, medium bodied Chardonnay is very appealing. Look for flavors and aromas of apples, hay, honey, citrus blossoms, and Meyer lemons, with a hint of minerals. Drink until the end of the decade. Score A-

Domaine du Castel, “C” Blanc du Castel, Chardonnay, Judean Hills, 2014: Aged for twelve months sur lie in French oak barrels, this full bodied, dark-straw colored wine, was the biggest, richest, creamiest wine in the tasting. Look for a bouquet of apples, oak, lemons, cream, and caramel, with just a whiff of tropical fruits. The apple-like flavor is dominated by elements of oak, cream and freshly churned butter. Look for tropical notes towards the back of the palate. Drink now until 2021. Score A/A-


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