Kosher Wine & Spirits

 

Another Kosher Wine Grows in Napa

 

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Wearing a soiled baseball cap, dark-rimmed glasses and a long black beard, 34-year old Rabbi Elchonon Tenenbaum might appear to be a most unlikely winemaker.  And Napa Valley might be an unlikely place for an Orthodox Rabbi, his wife and their five young children to call home.  There are no kosher restaurants, no Jewish days schools and you have to schlep to San Francisco to get your kosher groceries.


 

Winecation

 

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This winter, enjoy wine country and the wonder of California’s coastline—kosher style


 

Wine Harvest Season

 

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Right now, in vineyards everywhere, grapes are being harvested for the wine that will land on your table next year—and beyond.


 

New Kosher Wines for the Jewish New Year

 

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This year we will be hosting 21 people for Rosh Hashanah.  When you’re having enough Yom Tov guests to field two baseball teams and still have a few people in the stands to watch, you may want to start drinking early.  Luckily, I am well-stocked this year with some wonderful kosher wines that taste great in the glass and are available at a range of prices for most every budget.

Here are a few of our favorite kosher wines for Rosh Hashanah:


 

Kosher Wine for Summertime

 

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As I write this kosher wine article, it’s over 90 degrees outside – at 8 o’clock at night.  In the midst of an interminable heat wave, it is hard to get motivated to think about wine.  A frozen margarita or strawberry daiquiri?  No problem!  But wine?  Now this is going to be tough.

But over the past few weeks, I’ve been giving reds a rest and Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay a test.


 

Guess the Grape with a Wine Tasting Cheat Sheet

 

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One evening, relatives, neighbors, and friends passed through the home of one of our Joy of Kosher editors to take part in our Guess the Grape challenge.

In this blind taste test, could they guess the wine varietal they were drinking?


 

Dairy Cocktail Recipes

 

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My parents were pretty strict with alcohol consumption through my teenage years. The two exceptions were wine during Shabbat meals (though I was limited to one glass) and any cream liqueur. For some reason, Godiva Chocolate and Irish cream liqueurs didn’t count as alcohol, since they were so rich and in my mother’s opinion, you could only drink it in a glass, on ice, at times when you wanted to indulge.

The issue with these creamy libations is that for most Kosher-observing families, opportunities to drink a dairy cocktail are rare, unless the kids are asleep and you have an hour of free time to rest. Thankfully, Shavuot is right around the corner, so here are some ideas for dairy cocktails that I encourage you to try!


 

Back in White – Kosher Wine for Anytime

 

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Wherever you turn, people are seeing red.  Even rosé has a better reputation.  Let’s face it, red is the new black and white is left in the closet hoping for a fish dinner, light pasta or summer picnic.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  Although consumer preferences and market realities have held many kosher winemakers back from making the same progress on the quality of their white wines as on their red, it’s time to give kosher white wine another try.  Get away from Chardonnay and try some other great varietals that are crisp and light and amazingly aromatic.

Shavuot is a perfect time to get back into white!


 

What is Bourbon?

 

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It’s Kentucky Derby time, (the Derby will be on May 5th, 2012) which means Americans are enjoying the classic mint julep cocktail, based on one of America’s most distinctive spirits: Bourbon. But what is Bourbon and how is it made?

Contrary to popular belief, Bourbon can be made anywhere in the United States. At the very least, the mixture of grains that make up a Bourbon must be at least 51% corn with the balance being any grain, including wheat, barley, rye, corn or rice. Also, the resulting whiskey must be put into new, charred white oak barrels. In order to be called a “Straight Bourbon,” the whiskey
must be aged for a minimum of two years. Incidentally, after these barrels have been used for Bourbons, they are often shipped to Scotland for the aging of Scotch whisky.


 

What Kind of Taster Are You? (Quiz)

 

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Tim Hanni, one of the industry’s top experts and holder of the Master of Wine title, says that tasting notes comparing wine to berries or chocolate is useless in helping most consumers find a wine they enjoy. His system, the “Budometer,” instead uses factors like how many taste buds a person has and—how they like their coffee.

To see where you fall on the wine taste continuum, take the following quiz:


 

Kosher Wine for Passover – Easy as 1, 2, 3, 4

 

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As the sun begins to set on the evening of Friday, April 6, 2012, Jews all over the world will gather together for the first night of Passover.  Throughout the narrative retelling the Exodus from Egypt, we drink four cups of wine to celebrate our freedom from slavery.  There was a time, not so long ago, when sipping the syrupy sweet Concord grape wine at the Seder was a form of cruel ancient punishment – symbolic, but not satisfying.   Now, we have so many amazing choices of wines to enjoy at Seder it can seem almost overwhelming.  Freedom has its challenges.

Let me try to make things a little easier this year with four tips on how to choose the perfect kosher wine for Passover and a few recommendations for your Seder.


 

Kosher for Passover Vodka That’s Worth a Shot

 

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I’m not a vodka drinker.   I remember years ago tasting kosher for Passover potato vodka that tasted like lighter fluid and I vowed to stick to wine for Passover from that point forward.  This year Vodka lovers can rejoice over at least two high quality, artisanal Kosher for Passover vodkas now being produced.  I decided to give it a shot.  Maybe two.

Last month, I shared my discovery of Zachlawi, a new artisanal distillery producing the popular Middle Eastern liquor, Arak.  Zachlawi is also kicking it with kosher for Passover vodka.   “Making vodka was not really my choice – rather it was my challenge,”  explains Zachlawi founder Marty Kairey.  He knew kosher for Passover vodkas weren’t so  good and there was no reason they couldn’t be great.  It was harder than he thought, but he created a fantastic Russian-style vodka.  Marty might have stopped there, but he couldn’t resist another great challenge.  After two years of R&D, Marty has another success, Sweet Potato Vodka.  Having tasted this new kind of vodka I have to say I am excited to bring this out for Pesach.  It actually has a sweetness that made it incredibly easy to drink.  Maybe I do like vodka.


 

Dalton Winery – Passover Wine...

 

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At a traditional Passover Seder, Jews all over the world come together to tell the story of our miraculous Exodus from Egypt.  Four cups of wine are served to commemorate our freedom and celebrate our deliverance from slavery.

One of my family’s Passover traditions is to select wines from Israel to enjoy at our Seder.  “Next year in Jerusalem“ takes on even more meaning when you raise a glass of wine from the Holy Land.


 

Purim Wine Recommendations

 

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While I count myself among those who enjoy wine with almost every evening meal, like many others I make an extra effort to have special wines o appropriately honor the joyous occasion in question.   However, while some holiday choices are obvious (Pessach = best possible wine for the Seder meal (I try not to used big expensive wines for the first few cups since they are tough to really appreciate that way); Chanukah = high-acid wines to match all that greasy & high-oil food), the one gives me some pause is the upcoming glorious Chag of Purim.  On one hand, it is by far the holiday most associated with drinking, with much of the action in Megilat Esther coming during the two “wine feasts” hosted by Queen Esther in an effort to defeat the evil Haman so appropriate homage to fermented grape juice is totally appropriate.  On the other hand, given folks proclivities for over-indulging during the festivities, it is usually slightly wasteful to bring out the really good stuff.

As a proposed compromise I hope people can get behind, in keeping with one of the missions of my newsletter to introduce folks to wines they may not be as familiar with (and paying homage to another time-honored Purim tradition, that of Ve’nahafocho (doing the opposite)), for this pre-Purim guest posting I have provided five recommendations of wines from varietals you may be less familiar with.  While these wines may be those you drink less often, they are delicious and highly recommended, guaranteed to enhance your Purim festivities, regardless of the path they may take…


 

How To Make The Perfect Cocktail

 

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Purim is coming, we’re so happy, we’re gonna make cocktails! Now that the especially long February is over, it’s time to spring into March with some class. Here are two delicious cocktails with my tips on how to get the most out of your drink.

For a full list of cocktails for Purim click here.