Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Kosher Wine Selections Brighten Fall Season

Kosher Wines For FallThese four kosher wine selections are ideal for the holidays.

An Evolving Wine Category

Once upon a time, kosher wine meant sweetened wine made with Concord grapes. Those times are long gone.

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Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, signals the launch of new products that demonstrate the variety and quality of kosher wines. These are wines that appeal to Jews and non-Jews alike. To kick off the fall season we hosted a special wine dinner with kosher wines spanning three continents.

The Inside Story On Kosher Wine

As mentioned, the quality of kosher wine continues to rise. It is still a wine segment that is misunderstood.

Hello Fall Wine Dinner“When it comes to taste, there’s no difference between kosher and non-kosher wine,” says Jay Buchsbaum, Director of Wine Education at Royal Wine Corp., the top kosher wine purveyor in America. “In fact, many kosher wines are award winning - beating out their non-kosher competitors for top varietal prizes, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and rosés as well.

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“There’s a common ‘urban legend’ that wine is rendered kosher after being blessed by a Rabbi – that is incorrect. Actually, for a wine to be made kosher there are strictly supervised purity guidelines that need to be followed from the moment the grapes enter the winery to when the wine is bottled,” adds Buchsbaum.

To be considered kosher, Sabbath-observant Jews must supervise and sometimes handle the entire winemaking process, from the time the grapes are crushed until the wine is bottled. Any ingredients used, including yeasts and fining agents, must be kosher.

When kosher wine is produced, marketed and sold commercially, it will bear kosher certification granted by a specially-trained rabbi who is responsible for supervision from start to finish.

Hello Fall

Fall in North Carolina arrived on September 23. You wouldn’t know if by the thermometer, which was registering sultry temperatures in the high 80s. Undaunted by that, we gathered a group of friends for a special dinner to welcome autumn.

Although we’re not Jewish, we’ve come to appreciate the wines of Israel and the improving quality of kosher wines in general. For our dinner we sampled: Herzog NV Lineage Momentus, USA; Netofa 2016 Latour Red, Israel; Chateau Royaumont 2016 Lalande de Pomerol and Mt. Tabor 2018 Chardonnay, Galilee.

Hello Fall Dinner MenuFor our dinner my wife, the Green Dragon, whipped up a culinary masterpiece. We started the festivities (of course) with bubbly. For the appetizer we had chicken liver paté and spicy eggplant caviar on bruschetta. We popped open the Herzog Lineage Momentus. Once the wire cage was removed, I noticed the cork started inching itself out of the bottle – it should have been a warning. I popped open the bottle and the foaming froth, although quite festive, splashed onto the floor.

A Perfect Bubbly Pairing

Paté and sparkling wine is a spot-on pairing and this was delicious. The Momentus, which has a reasonable SRP of $20, is off-dry. That pinch of sweetness helped make it a perfect pairing.

Hello Fall HighlightsOur next course featured the Mt. Tabor Chardonnay with Cream of Cauliflower & Fennel Soup along with a salad of Fall Lettuces with Pear and an Asiago Crisp. This Chard is unoaked – just how we like it. There are notes of apple and melon and some citrus too. A very tasty wine with an SRP of around $15.

Our next course was a masterwork that required two bottles of red: the 2016 Chateau Royaumont 2016 Laland de Pomerol and the Netofa 2016 Latour Red from Israel. The main course was Pan-Seared Hanger Steak with Porcini Merlot Reduction Sauce & Roasted Fingerling Potatoes. I can only assume that the smashing success of this dish was due to the outstanding way I sliced the potatoes (since the Green Dragon did everything else!).

A Pair Of Reds

The Chateau Royaumont is a Right Bank Bordeaux wine, meaning it is Merlot-centric. In this case, the blend is 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc. It’s outstanding. The body is light with polished flavors of cherry and raspberry. The tannins are dialed back and the Merlot swirls with a silky finish. It’s a complex and balanced wine that retails for about $38.

Netofa has a more robust take on a red blend with its Latour. This is a Rhone-style blend of Syrah and Mourvedre. It has hearty flavors of dark cherry and briar with a foundation of earthy notes. The tannins, enhanced by aging in oak barrels, can stand up well with grilled meats or even wild game. The cost is about $27.

We wrapped up our dinner with assorted chocolates as we sipped red wine. The evening continued as more corks popped open and flames flickered on the tiki torches on the patio. Many thanks to our dinner guests Connie, Cecil, Laure and Jeff who helped us savor and critique these excellent wines.

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