Archive for the 'Cabernet sauvignon' Category

27
Jan
11

Pairing Food and Wine – Part 2


As we said – in the very first sentence – in the first part of this series, the one true rule of pairing food and wine is that such pairings are highly personal. The ethnic/cultural background and, specifically, the food one grew up with are influential on how taste is perceived by the individual. Someone who eats mostly spicy food will taste wine very differently from someone accustomed to more bland foods..

When you enter the differences of each individual’s taste buds into the equation you can understand that what may be a perfect pairing for one person, may not necessarily be so great to another. Rules are, at best, approximations based on the “average” person (read: “the average connoissseur,” often self-proclaimed, instead). I could find no scientific study ever conducted that definitely showed what is the “average” when it comes to taste matters. What is the point of this series, then, if the rules are subject to each individual’s preferences? That is a fair question! The answer is that all we intend to accomplish – here – is to give you, gentle reader, some departure points as you embark on your very own food and wine pairing journey. Just remember that wine should never overpower the food it accompanies but it should complement it.

Once again, winter has shown itself relentless and bombarded us with another big snowfall. Considering that wine can warm the soul and gladden the heart, considering that medical most studies now find the health benefits in drinking 2 daily glasses of wine (like the French do), isn’t this weather just right for sipping wine, especially if paired with a nice soup?

A street in Brooklyn today... comfort food and wine weather

How about a Chicken Noodle Soup, paired with a Pinot Grigio or a Chennin Blanc? Perhaps a Cream of Chicken Soup with a Sauvignon Blanc or a Viognier would fit your preference? Maybe a French Onion Soup paired with a Beaujolais or a White Burgundy?  Hmmmmnnn, my mouth is watering already!

Since we are only offering departure points here are some favorite pairings:

Fish

Sauvignon Blanc – Light, zesty and citrusy

White Burgundy –  Goes well with salmon

Chardonnay – Perfect for rich fish dishes

Riesling – It’s lime/lemon juice flavor make it a nice complement to any fish dish

Pinot Noir – Yes, it’s a red wine, but try it with grilled fish and see what it does!

Meat

Beef or steak – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Shiraz

Lamb - Bordeaux, or almost any Red wine

Poultry – Chardonnay

Miscellaneous

Fruit – Any Sauternes, Muscat or Riesling (especially Late Harvest)

Very sweet or heavy desserts – I prefer to pair these with a Moscato d’Asti

Pizza – Chianti is the perfect choice!

This does not pretend to be an exhaustive list, it merely reflects pairings I’ve tried and liked.

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!

CS

26
Jan
11

Pairing Food and Wine – Part 1


Frankly the main rule to remember when pairing food with wine is that one should drink whichever wine one likes with particular food. Having said that there are some basic guidelines to maximize your enjoyment:

DrinkWine.com lists 5 basic rules:

Match the weight & texture of the food to the weight & texture of the wine
Example: A light-bodied fish like sole works best with a light-bodied white wine like pinot grigio, while a heavier-bodied fish like salmon calls for a richer, fuller-bodied white like chardonnay.

Balance the intensity of flavors in the food and wine
Example: A mildly flavored food like roast turkey pairs well with light-bodied white and red wines like sauvignon blanc and Beaujolais, but in the context of a Thanksgiving dinner featuring stuffing, cranberry sauce, and other strongly flavored side dishes, an intensely flavored white like gewürztraminer or a rich, fruity red like syrah or zinfandel would be preferable.

Balance tastes
The five basic tastes are sweet, sour, salt, bitter and umami (the recently discovered fifth taste found in savory foods like mushrooms, tomatoes, soy sauce, and aged cheeses and meats). Salty and sour tastes in food make wines taste milder (fruitier and less acidic), while sweet and savory (umami) tastes make wines taste stronger (drier and more astringent).

Example: A simple cut of beef tames the tannins and brings out the fruit of a young cabernet sauvignon, but chocolate (which some people enjoy with cabernet) will accentuate its tannins and diminish its fruit. Seasonings, such as salt, lemon, vinegar, and mustard, can be used to achieve balance in food-wine pairings, either to make the wine taste milder (salt, lemon, vinegar) or stronger (sugar or umami ingredients).

Match flavors
Flavors are combinations of tastes and aromas, and there are an infinite number of them. You can fine-tune food and wine pairings by matching flavors in the food and the wine.

Example: Roast duck in a plum sauce is well-served by red wines, like barbera or syrah, with pronounced black plum flavors while grilled steak in a pepper sauce will go beautifully with a peppery zinfandel.

Counterpoint flavors
Sometimes, the best choice is to counterpoint flavors rather than matching them.

Example: Pairing a spicy dish like Jamaican Jerk Chicken with a high-alcohol red wine may seem logical, but, in fact, the heat in the dish will ignite the alcohol in the wine to produce an unpleasantly hot, harsh impression. A better choice is a low-alcohol, fruity wine like riesling or gewürztraminer, which will both frame and tame the spicy flavors of the dish.

Enjoy your pairings, gentle reader, enjoy!

CS

26
Oct
10

Kosherfest: Day 1


Today was the opening day for Kosherfest at the Meadowlands Exposition Center, in Seacaucus (NJ). Not only was the number of exhibitors bigger than ever, but so was the attendance. There is no question that the kosher consumer is more and more demanding, both in the number of items as well as in their quality. I only stayed for a few hours, as I had prior obligations so I decided to go for some unusual or otherwise interesting items.

First, however, we decided to meet some of the cookbook authors we reviewed recently and had interviewed over the phone and on radio.

Paula Shoyer, Pastry Chef par excellence, cookbook author

Paula Shoyer, recently had her The Kosher Baker published by Brandeis University. It is one of the most beautiful kosher cookbooks both SYR or I have ever seen.

Susie Fishbein, the top kosher cookbook author and whose Kosher by Design series sold globally in numbers comparable to the world’s top cookbook authors was there too…

Susie Fishbein being interviewed, at the Kolatin gelatin booth by TJC TV

We reviewed a pre-publication copy of her newest – Kosher by Design Teens and 20 Somethings (due to hit the stores on October the 27th!) – yesterday.

Quite a few exhibitors used the occasion to launch new lines, among them we were happy to see that Lévana Kirschenbaum finally and officially put her new bakery products on the market. At the beginning of the summer SYR and I were among the exclusive few who got to taste these delicacies…

Lévana demostrating her new products

As I searched for unusual products, I spotted these unusual bottles of Tequila…

Kah Tequila... guaranteed to get your attention!

I then tasted the middle bottle of the Agave 99 line…

Smooth and flavorful

Next I did a tasting of the Secreto line of wines from Argentina.

Secreto - Vinos kasher de Argentina

I first tried their Malbec (80% Malbec – Argentina’s most famous wine grape – and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon); I followed it with their Cabernet Sauvignon (80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Malbec); next I tried their Trivarietal (50% Bonarda, 25% Malbec and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon). I found all three to be excellent selections, especially in their price range ($10-$12).

I then saw a line of medicinal teas from Spain, Helps by Pharmadus.

A nice line of special teas for children, women's needs, and a whole lot more.

Next we saw Tammy Polatskek‘s new line of superbly designed dishes under the Carmona label.

Beautiful, unusual, contemporary

Beautiful, contemporary shapes that will greatly enhance the pleasure of any meal, the beauty of any table.

Before we left we passed by the booth of Happy Hearts Wine

Some great wines from some of Israel's smaller wineries...

They distribute Israeli wines from from small boutique wine producers like, Odem Mountain Winery, Or Haganuz Winery, the Mony Estate Vineyards, Dovev Winery, Hameshubach Winery, and the Efrat Winery. Their selections were quite good, I was familiar with some of their labels already.

We didn’t cover as much as we would have liked, especially after some very interesting products we sa, but I’m going back tomorrow and I expect to cover far more ground.

CS

10
Jun
10

La Carne Grill


Enticed by the glowing review this restaurant garnered in 2007 in The Jewish Press, a 2007 mention in The New York Blueprint, a nice review and slide show in New York Magazine and quite a few others – along the same vein – we couldn’t wait to try Eddie Allaham’s eatery. Knowing Eddie was one of the original owners and the creator of Prime Grill’s concept, made our mouths water in anticipation of visiting La Carne Grill (340 Lexington Ave; New York, NY 10016; 212.490.7172). Daniel Ronay (whom readers of our blog have met before, came along this time in place of SYR who couldn’t make it).

The main dining area...

Daniel started the meal with Crispy Sweatbreads, they came with an olive tapenade and mustard aoili. He described them as nicely crispy and flavorful without being overpowering.

I opted for the Garlic Baby Artichokes, which consists of sauteed baby artichoke, drizzled with sweet garlic sauce.

Garlic Baby Artichokes

I am a potato lover and had I eaten these blindfolded, I would have thought – based merely on the taste – that I was savoring some very buttery potatoes… superbly done!

We each followed the appetizer with a sushi rolls (who would have believed, less than six month ago, that I would EVER touch fish based sushi?!?!?).

Daniel had the Red Dragon Roll, a spicy tuna roll with wonton crisps on top. He liked the nice contrast between the roll texture and the chipped wonton crisps. Though it came in a nicely sized portion, Danny said he could continue eating more and more of it.

I had the colorful Rainbow Roll, a california roll with tuna, salmon, yellowtail and white fish. An artistically presented dish, did not taste fishy at all, a wonderful amalgam where each ingredient was subtle enough to allow the others to shine through to create a wonderful, perfect, combination of flavors. We each washed it down with a delightful 2007 Herzog Chardonnay.

For the main dish, he continued to a delicious Beef Wellington. It came with a grilled filet mignon with asparagus, garlic demi sauce and mushroom duxelles, wrapped in puff pastry.

Beef Wellington

While he’s not normally a fan of Beef Wellington, he felt he would order this particular version again. He found the meat tender, juicy, perfectly cooked with a nice shade of of light pink in the center. What made it so different was the delicate sauce of ground mushrooms with a touch of lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. Daniel couldn’t stop raving about it!

I ordered a Filet Mignon, which came with a black trumpet (mushrooms) brandy cream sauce  (delicious!!!!) and French fries. Tender and juicy, superbly cooked to medium state. I paired it with a 2006 Benyamina The Cave. This blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot, aged in a three hundred year old cave in the heart of the Carmel mountains and the Filet… ah, a marriage made in heaven!

We finished this royal repast with an excellent pareve capuccino and a Blueberry Cheesecake

.

Delicious pareve cheesecake

It was hard to believe, there was no real cheese inside. Delicate but full of flavor, even without the blueberry it would still have been outstanding.

We were pleased to see that La Carne Grill does not rest on its past laurels, Chef Angel Ramirez and his stuff worked hard to produce their very best still. There is no question I must bring SYR soon, I know she’ll love it!

CS

La Carne Grill on Urbanspoon

25
Mar
10

Brisket Recipes


Brisket is traditional Jewish American fare, but it need not be prepared from a “traditional” recipe. In fact, some “non-traditional” recipes enhance the culinary experience! Here are some of my favorites.

For a nice variation on the traditional:

Passover Brisket Recipe

[non-gebroks]
Like most holidays Passover has lots of traditional foods, such as matzo ball soup, hard-boiled eggs and matzah, a type of flat bread. The holiday kicks off with two dinners in a row, where the story of Passover, the exodus from Egypt, is told. The main dish of the dinner is often brisket, a delicious and succulent type of pot roast perfect for larger groups. Here’s a recipe adapted from Chicago caterer, City Provisions that uses red wine, mushrooms and dried cranberries. Serve it with plenty of mashed potatoes.

Ingredients

1 cup Cabernet Sauvignon
1 cup organic beef broth
1/2 cup cranberry juice
3 Tablespoons potato starch
1 large yellow onion, sliced
3 to 4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

1 4-5 pound
brisket, trimmed
6 ounces large Portobello mushrooms, dark gills scraped away, caps thinly sliced
6 ounces of cremini or button mushrooms, chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
Kosher salt and cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 300°F.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk wine, broth, cranberry juice and potato starch. Pour into large roasting pan. Mix in onion, garlic and rosemary. Sprinkle brisket on all sides with Kosher salt and pepper. Place brisket, fat side up, in roasting pan. Spoon some wine mixture over the brisket. Cover pan tightly with heavy-duty foil.

Bake brisket until very tender, basting every hour, for about 3 hours. Remove from oven, transfer brisket to plate; cool 1 hour at room temperature.

Thinly slice brisket across grain. Arrange slices in pan with sauce, overlapping slices a bit. (Cover and refrigerate. To save time on the day of, the brisket can be made a day or two ahead of time)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Surround the brisket with the mushrooms and cranberries in the sauce. Cover pan with foil. Bake about 30 minutes or so, until the mushrooms are tender and brisket is heated through

Transfer sliced brisket and sauce to platter and serve. Garnish with a few more of the cranberries.

—–Amy Sherman.

For a very different taste:

Chef Emeril Lagasse’s Passover Brisket

[non-gebroks]
Ingredients

8 to 10 pound brisket
Garlic cloves
1 quart beef stock (unsalted or low salt)
3 large onions, sliced
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons Emeril’s Original Essence, (recipe follows)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup ketchup
1 cup chili sauce
1 cup brown sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

Using a paring knife and your finger, stuff brisket all over with garlic. Place brisket in a baking dish or casserole and bake until browned on top, remove from oven, turn brisket and return to oven until browned on both sides. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Add enough beef stock to casserole to come up 1 inch on sides, cover with foil and bake one hour.

While brisket is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium high heat and saute onions in vegetable oil, stirring occasionally, until caramelized and most liquid has evaporated, about 20 minutes. Set aside.

Remove brisket from oven after one hour and add caramelized onions and all remaining ingredients, moving meat around to combine ingredients. Cover and continue to bake until very tender but not falling apart, another 2 to 3 hours. Remove brisket to a carving board and slice. Strain reserved cooking liquids and pour over sliced brisket. Brisket may be returned to casserole dish and allowed to cool, then served the next day. (Reheated in oven.)

Brisket is better if made a day in advance.

Essence (Emeril’s Creole Seasoning):

* 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
* 2 tablespoons salt
* 2 tablespoons garlic powder
* 1 tablespoon black pepper
* 1 tablespoon onion powder
* 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
* 1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
* 1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

Yield: about 2/3 cup

If you’d rather make a very traditional brisket, here is a delicious recipe:

Baker’s Best Passover Brisket

[non-gebroks]
Baker’s Best chef Geoff Skillman trims his own brisket, but butchers will do it for you. Don’t eliminate all the fat (or you may not have any flavor left). You can make the brisket, chill and skim the liquid, and reheat the dish the following day.

1 whole brisket (6 to 7 pounds)
9 carrots, cut into 3-inch pieces
6 stalks celery, strings removed, cut into 3-inch pieces
8 medium onions, roots intact, cut into quarters
3 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups Concord grape wine
1 quart beef stock
1 cup honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pint cherry tomatoes, stems removed

Set the oven at 350 degrees.

Trim excess fat from the brisket and place it in a large flameproof casserole. You can also use a deep roasting pan.

Place the carrots, celery, and onions around and on the meat. Add the bay leaves, garlic, wine, stock, honey, and plenty of salt and pepper.

Cover the pan with a double thickness of foil and transfer it to the oven. Bake the brisket for 3 to 4 hours or until it is very tender. Remove it from the oven.

Turn the oven temperature up to 450 degrees. Have on hand a rimmed baking sheet.

Remove the vegetables from the pan with a slotted spoon and set them on the baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and roast the vegetables for 40 minutes or until they caramelize at the edges.

Set the brisket on a cutting board and slice it diagonally against the
grain.

Reheat the meat by setting the flameproof casserole or roasting pan directly onto a burner. When it is hot, taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like.

Arrange the meat on a large platter and garnish with the caramelized vegetables, cherry tomatoes, and roasted potatoes. Serve at once.

Any of the above, is absolutely delicious!!

SYR

16
Mar
10

Benyamina Wines Tasting, Getting Ready for Tomorrow’s Tasting


On the evening of  Thursday, January the 21st, I attended a wine tasting of Benyamina wines given by Avi Ashman’s Israeli Wine Lovers Club. Asaf Paz, one of the two wine-makers at the Benyamina winery, presented a selection of wines in all price ranges.

Some of the wines we would taste...

Eran Elhalal, the club’s chef, prepared a nice assortment of cheeses (sharp and mild), fruits and sweets. Raphael Sutton, who edited Israel Food and Wine magazine and wrote on wines for Globes (Israel’s premier financial publication) was the resident expert together with Eran and Avi.

Asaf started the presentation with a Chardonnay 2007, we tasted it first at room temperature. It was pleasantly tart, with hints of citrus, grapefruit and apricot. When chilled it became fruitier with peach and floral notes. It’s made in the Champagne style since the Chardonnay grape together with its red grape cousins, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier is part of the triumvirate of grapes used for Champagne. This grape which easily adapts to every climate, no matter how extreme, is also used in large proportions in the production of classic sparklers around the world.

We followed with Yogev 2007, that combined Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. With Cherry and berry notes, the Shiraz gave it a smoky spiciness. Made from classical warm weather grapes, it won’t age as well as other higher end wines.

We continued with another Yogev 2007 selection, also a dry red. This wine combines 20% Petit Verdot (grown in the Negev Mountains, it has high acidity and produces fruity tannins) and 80% Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s aroma brought out mint and black currant tones. Ages well and has a very unique strong personality.

Next we had a Reserve Merlot 2005, with hints of cherry and sweet spices. it goes well with lamb shanks and strong flavored meats. Next we had a delightful Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2006.

Some of the higher end selections

Sapir 2004 followed this wines is aged for 16 months in the cask and 4 years in the bottle before it leaves the winery. It has 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Shiraz, and 25% Merlot, fruity with floral accents and sweet spices.

Odem 2005 was next, this wine has 97% Syrah and 3% Viognier it has a nice smoky taste and goes well with charcouterie meats.

Finally we got to taste Benyamina’s top of the line, The Cave – Hama’arah 2006, a Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend. A superior wine that is aged not in the main winery but in a 300 year old cave in the heart of the Carmel Mountains, hence its name. This top quality wine, a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot, the grapes were harvested in  the Upper Galilee. The wine was aged over 24 months in new French oak barrels and will continue to age well. Truly a superb wine.

Tomorrow, March 17, the Israeli Wine Lovers Club will be meeting again in Manhattan, at:
Quint, Miller & Co.
34 West 38th Street (between 5th & 6th Ave.) NYC
6th Floor
The buzzer, on the ground floor, is # 6.

As Avi’s email advised: “Earlier today I got the wines for the “How Sweet It ISrael” tasting from the Royal Wine Company (the largest Kosher wines importer/distributor). The list is great — Carmel Shaal, Gamla White Riesling, Carmel Moscato, and more. Eran (our Club’s Chef) promised to make special treats for the tasting…. So, are you ready for a sweet feast as I am? We’d like to see you at the event.

You can RSVP at their web site: http://www.meetup.com/Israeli-Wine-Lovers/calendar/12765713/ The cost for this tasting is $36 at the door. Hope to see you there.

CS

22
Feb
10

A Private Wine Tasting


I recently had a private wine tasting with Costas Mouzouras, the Wine Director at Gotham Wines & Liquors (2517 Broadway; New York, NY 10025; Telephone: 212.932.0990). Costas, who’s been in the business for 22 years, selected four outstanding wines for me to try. To keep everything strictly kosher, I opened and poured the bottles for both of us.

The choices were: 2007 Lambouri Ya’in Kafrisin, 2006 Shiloh Secret Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007 Dalton Reserve Wild Yeast Fermentation Viognier and a 2007 Yatir Sauvignon Blanc.

We started with the 2007 Lambouri Ya’in Kafrisin. This wine comes from Limassol, Cyprus. It’s made from a mixture of Cabernet Sauvignon, Mavro and Grenache Noir grapes. These grapes are grown in Europe’s highest vineyards. The color is a dark garnet with orange and purple reflections. The Mavro grape is indigenous to Cyprus, and unlike any grape grown in the rest of Europe, it is still grown on ancient rootstock. Most mainland Europe’s vineyards have been attacked by the Philoxera Epidemic during the 19th century, as a result most European vineyards were devastated and their grapes had to be grafted on American rootstock. You can, therefore, surmise that while most European grapes may have, however subtly, changed their taste, the Mavro grape remains untainted and has tasted the same (with fair consistency) for thousands of years.  One will detect a nice fruitiness, with emphasis on blackcurrant, blackberry, purple plum fruits and notes of bitter orange peel, those on a background of white pepper and oriental spices, with the tannins and fruits rising on the finish. It leaves the drinker with an unusual but delightful after taste. Goes superbly well with juicy meats. Definitely one of my new favorites!

We followed it with the 2006 Shiloh Secret Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a very good Israeli wine, grown in the Judean Hills. Aged aged in French oak casks, it is very fruity with blackcurrant and plum undercurrents and vanilla (due to the French oak casks). It goes well with drier meats.

We then went on to the whites. 2007 Dalton Reserve Wild Yeast Fermentation Viognier was our next selection. It started with a certain smokiness, showing intense, vibrant and complex spicy, floral, fig and melon aromas and flavors. Deep and rich with a long, broad finish. This wine was, by far, much better than its price range would suggest!

We ended the tasting with a 2007 Yatir Sauvignon Blanc. Crisp and lively, with elegance and subtlety. It is light golden in color with orange and green reflections, showing citrus, passion fruit, green apple and grapefruit aromas and flavors on a grassy and stony-mineral background.

All in all, these four selection running in price range from $15.99 to $37.99 were excellent! Costas Mouzouras started working at Gotham Wines & Liquors in 1988, where he soon became the kosher wine buyer, at a time when most of the few available kosher wines were of the extra sweet variety. In his 22 years at Gotham he has seen an explosion of kosher wines with award winning selections from all over the globe including many dry wines (which would have been unthinkable to our older generation), as well as semi dry, semi sweet, and sweet ones.

I liked the wines enough that I had to bring each one home, this is their aftermath...

Currently, they are offering 10% off on any bottles and 15% off on solid cases. (solid meaning a case of the same product.)

On Sunday, March 7th, Gotham Wines & Liquors will present its 7th annual Wine Tasting. It will take place in the afternoon at the Lincoln Square Synagogue (200 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY; between 69th and 70th). They will present over 300 bottles from all over the world, starting at 2:00pm and going until 5:00pm. Pay $30 per person at the entrance or $25 on line at Gotham Wines & Liquors‘ own site. At 1:15 going on until 2:00 there will be a guided VIP tasting for $45 which is only available at the door.

CS

17
Feb
10

Enjoying your Wines – Part 4 – Grape Varieties


There are literally thousands of grape varieties in existence. Most wine grapes are made from the European species, which is considered to be superior to the American vine species. The reason for the numerous varieties is that grape vines have a tendency to mutate and cross breed with ease. Advances in genetic technology have allowed scientists to determine the origins of many well-known grape varieties. The following will give you an introduction to the world of most common grape varieties.

Red Varieties

Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon requires care and attention in the vineyard, with fruit exposure and yield directly related to fruit quality. However its thick skin makes it incredibly resilient to adverse climatic conditions. In the winery, winemakers often age Cabernet Sauvignon in a mixture of French and American oak.

Climate has a significant impact on the sensory characteristics of the variety. In cooler climates, minty and leafy characters are intermingled with blackcurrant and red berries. In warmer climates, chocolate and tobacco characters express themselves.

Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Franc
is a component of Bordeaux blends and Loire Valley reds. It has leafy red-berry characters.

Malbec
Malbec is a successful varietal in Argentina. Also used in Bordeaux blends.

Merlot
For Merlot to be good, it must be picked at optimum ripeness, to avoid the presence of herbal characters. Flavors of plums, red currant, mint, pimento, game, earth and leather can be found. Its tannins are invariably soft, making Merlot a good early drinking style, but this does limit its aging potential.

Merlot is most famous in its homeland of Bordeaux in France, where it is used to make some of the world’s greatest and most expensive wines. Over the last ten years, plantings have rapidly expanded across the globe, most notably into California, South America, Italy, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

Petit Verdot
Petit Verdot is a red grape variety that is traditionally used in Cabernet Sauvignon based blends. It is known for its intense color, vibrant flavors and firm tannin structure making it a good choice for true red wine drinkers.

Petit Verdot has an interesting flavor profile. It can be incredibly perfumed, having aromas of blueberry and violet. Sometimes it has an attractive herbaceous and spice element, giving the variety complexity. The acidity is often prominent and due to the thick skins of the grape, the color is very dense and the tannins are firm. Structural wines with intense flavors can age well in the mid term. Due to its strength of character, Petit Verdot can have a significant impact on a blend, even when used in small proportions.

Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir originated in the French region of Burgundy, where it is most renowned and revered. The true character of Pinot Noir is expressed when it is grown in a cool climate. In fact, its early ripening nature makes it able to withstand some of the cooler areas.

Wines made from Pinot Noir are typically lightly colored, with cherry-to-plum red hues. The aroma, which is often highly fragrant, can be composed of cherries, red berries, violets and spice when young, transforming into gamey, leathery, mushroomy characters with age. The palate is light-to-medium bodied with fine silky tannins.

As complexity is a vital attribute of good Pinot Noir, the winemaking process is very detailed. Some winemakers choose to include whole berries in the fermentation to increase the fragrance of the wine. Others allow crushed grapes to macerate prior to fermentation to increase the depth of color and flavor. Some choose to do this after fermentation. Oak is used as an important element in both the sensory and structural aspects of the wine, however due to the delicacy of the variety, care must be taken to ensure that it doesn’t dominate the wine. It is not unusual for a single batch of grapes to be processed in different ways to give a range of blending options for the final wine.

Syrah
The beauty of Syrah is that it can flourish in a range of climates. Syrah can be made into a range of styles, defined by the terroir of the region and the winemakers’ artistry. With its soft ripe tannins, black cherry, pepper and spice characters, it can be crafted into wines suitable for immediate consumption.

Zinfandel
Substantial plantings in both California as well as Italy. In Italy it is known as Primitivo. It produces full-bodied and richly flavored wines.

White Varieties

Chardonnay
The popularity of Chardonnay quickly rose, due to its generous flavors and its ease to grow and make into wine. In fact, it is often called a viticulturalist’s dream, as it is early ripening, naturally vigorous and is relatively resistant to disease. Most importantly, it can be grown in a wide range of climatic conditions, leading to a vast array of styles.

The base flavor of Chardonnay is generous, but relatively neutral thus the winemakers’ individuality can be expressed through the winemaking techniques used. Oak usage, yeast lees contact and malolactic fermentation are just some of the ways a winemaker can influence the style of Chardonnay.

Chenin Blanc
Chenin Blanc is a classic French variety. The basis of some of the world’s greatest and long-living sweet wines.

Gewurztraminer
Gewurztraminer is a spicy, aromatic variety. Its style ranges from the flavorsome and fruity, to fine and delicate.

Pinot Gris
There are many synonyms for Pinot Gris. In Alsace, it is known at Tokay Pinot Gris. In Italy, it is commonly referred to as Pinot Grigio and in Germany it is known as Ruländer or Grauburgunder.

Gris, meaning grey in French, refers to the color of the Pinot Gris grapes. As a result, wines made from Pinot Gris often have a slight coppery hue. They have a delicately perfumed aroma with flavors stretching from fresh pear through to tropical fruits. Pinot Gris is similar to Chardonnay in that it has good palate weight and flavor.

Riesling
Riesling is an aromatic variety that produces intensely fragrant and flavored wines of exceptional character. Notes of citrus, honeysuckle, blossoms, green apple and mineral are commonly seen. With concurrent high acidity and comparable low alcohol, the wines retain an enviable freshness which many other varieties lack. Oak is not used and the wines are very pure and clean.

Riesling is a variety that is much loved by winemakers and wine connoisseurs due to its intense flavors and its defined palate structure. Riesling is delightful when it is consumed young and fresh. However it is one of the few white wines that has the ability to age.

Sauvignon Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc
is a variety with increasing popularity in Australia. Although its plantings are quite small, they are expected to significantly increase over the next ten years. Sauvignon Blanc is used to make fresh, vibrant wine styles with none of the heaviness of Chardonnay or the floral tones of Riesling. Its flavor profile is in harmony with Semillon and consequently these varieties are often blended together.

The flavor spectrum of Sauvignon Blanc is quite diverse. Upon a backbone of herbaceousness lie tropical fruit, passion fruit and gooseberry. Look a little closer and you may see tomato leaf, spice and flint. The stronger styles have elements of asparagus, capsicum and gun smoke. And winemaking can add tones of oak, butter and yeast. They are a feast for the senses, especially during the heat of summer where their defined acidity adds freshness to the palate.

Semillon
Semillon is a unique minerally, lemony style, which is crisp and lean when young and is made without the influence of oak or malolactic fermentation. However the wine undergoes a transformation with age, evolving into a complex, nutty, honeyed wine of great depth and complexity.

Semillon is often seen blended with Chardonnay, particularly in mass-market wine styles. The freshness of Semillon provides a necessary balance to the often overly rich Chardonnay. It is a blend that has been very successful.

Viognier
The most distinctive attribute of Viognier is its stone fruit character, most notably that of apricot. It can also show considerable floral and spice tones. In cooler climates you can see citrus whilst in warmer areas there is more honeysuckle. It has good viscosity due to generous alcohol levels and is similar to Chardonnay in that it has a weighty mid-palate and generous flavour, making it a good alternative to this ubiquitous variety.

Aaron Zimmerman

[Mr Zimmerman owns and operates Liquors Galore, 1418 Avenue J (between 12th and 13th Streets); Brooklyn, NY 11230-3702; Telephone: 718.338.4166. The above post is the lastof a multi-part series we have been posting once a week on these pages]

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Enjoying your Wines – Part 3 – Storing

Enjoying your Wines – Part 2 – Tasting

Enjoying your Wines Part 1 Buying

07
Feb
10

2010 Kosher Restaurant & Wine Experience – The Event


Last week Monday, February the first, Pier 60 at the Chelsea Piers in Manhattan hosted the Royal Wine Corporation’s organized the 2010 Kosher Restaurant & Wine Experience. Restaurants, a caterer, a supermarket, a salsa manufacturer presented some of their food creations while dozens of wine producers from around the world showed off  their potables.

Some of the early crowd, a couple of hours before the the 6:30pm general admission

In the back of the room in the photo above, behind the restaurants, between two glassed walls and directly overlooking the Hudson River Nesher Caterers (4023 13th Ave; Brooklyn, NY  11218-3501; Telephone: 718.437.3631). Their huge display sporting chairs and tables consisted of a full fare with many choices of appetizers, fish, meat, salads and desserts. The food was delicious and I walked away convinced Nesher should be a natural choice for anyone’s simcha.

Pomegranate had a huge display I sampled all their meat selections, the Heimische Brisket however was among the best I ever tasted. Juicy, tender and oh, so flavorful!

Abigael’s, Carlos & Gabby, China Glatt, Cho-Sen, ClubHouse Cafe, Colbeh, Dougie’s, El Gaucho Steakhouse, etc steakhouse, Fumio, Glatt A La Carte, Le Marais, Noah’s Ark, Nesher, Noi Due, Tevere. were the restaurants represented at this venue. Each eatery, offered tantalizing samples of some of their favorite dishes.

While most preferred posed shots, I opted for candids…

Hard at work, warming up some of those delectable Cho-Sen Lo-Mein Noodles

Jose Mireilles, owner of Les Marais and Clubhouse Cafe, taking orders...

I discovered some delicious salsas at My Brother Bobby’s Salsa booth, their recently introduced Bruschetta topping was superb. It’s no wonder they won so many accolades in various upstate fairs. Valerie and Robert Gropper, the owners, are a very energetic couple with an infectious – yet fully justified – enthusiasm for their excellent products. Their fresh products include: Original Red Salsa, Tropical Black Bean Salsa, Hot Tomatillo with Corn Salsa and Bruschetta topping. Selected “Best Bruschetta 2008″ and “Best Salsa 2009″ by Hudson Valley Magazine.

Giving out samples, talking product

If I can ever find these products in Brooklyn or Manhattan I’ll have to do an in-depth review. They tasted great!

There were more than 200 wine selections from around the world, the French Collection by Pierre Miodovnick attracted a lot of attention. I sampled two white sweet ones, 2001 Chateau Piada and a 1999 Chateau Guiraud, made from grape from the Sauternais region of the Graves section in Bordeaux.

The Chateau Piada – from Semillon grape – was sweet, luscious and full flavored, with a long, lingering finish. I could see it being served with full flavored cheeses and sweet desserts. The Chateau Guiraud was even better as it also includes some Sauvignon Blanc, which made it less sweet and more delightful to my palate.

For a dry French wine I tried a 2003 Chateau Pontet-Canet Paulliac, it has an intense color, strong on the nose with blackberries, rapberries well balanced with liquorice and other wooden tones. It’s made up of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot. This one will certainly occupy a place of honor in the pantheon of the best wines I’ve ever tasted!

There were some Israeli wines that I also liked, notably a 2006 Petit Castel, 2006 Yatir Cabernet Sauvignon (quite fruity and with subtle vanilla tones), Alexander Gaston Reserve (40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 30% Shiraz), the 2006 Alexander Syrah (90% Syrah, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon) and, of course, my all time favorite Israeli wine… 2005 Benyamina The Cave!

Before leaving I attended a session by Pierre Miodovnick where he explained about the great wine producing chateaus and their wines. After him, Jay Buchsbaum explained some wine terms and how to read a wine label.

Pierre Miodovnick, Jay Buchsbaum

This event proved informative and delicious, I can barely wait until next year!

CS

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Thoughts and Musings on the 2010 Kosher Restaurant & Wine Experience




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