Archive for the 'Champagne' Category

08
Jun
12

Ignorance or Willful Misspeak?


At The Kosher Scene, we never thought we would become either consumer advocates or customer service people, it just never was part of what we envisioned, though… I guess being restaurant critics, where we show you the good and warn you of the pitfalls is somewhat akin to “consumer advocates,” perhaps?

Yesterday we received an angry email – from a faithful reader – with photos, and receipts clearly showing some deceiving advertising. The sum involved here was a paltry $2.40, so it obviously was not the money that motivated her email, rather it was the principle that caused her frustration and complaint.

The reader – who prefers her name withheld – went to a store at the 1700 block on Avenue M, in the Flatbush area (Brooklyn), this past Wednesday. The handwritten sign in the window promised a 15% special on “ANY 3 BOTTLES OF WINE,” she asked for a champagne and the bottle of Bartenura Asti was offered her as a “Champagne.” Needless to say, it isn’t any such, this Asti is merely a nice sparkling wine, but let’s set that aside for a moment.

She bought the Asti and two other bottles, expecting her 15% percent discount, then she was told by Chris, the store clerk, “A champagne is not a wine,” therefore it was not eligible for the discount, she then picked up a fourth bottle so as to get her discount on the other two… Chris also called Hal, his boss, who told our reader “Whiskey and bourbon are not wines, and champagne is not a wine.”

The Asti‘s label clearly says “Sweet Italian Sparkling Wine.” It clearly calls it a wine, NOWHERE is this bottle described as a “Champagne,” neither in the front, nor in the back! In all fairness, however, any store has the right – at its sole discretion – to decide which items are or are not part of any given special. To misspeak about a champagne (which – in this case – is not even a champagne by any stretch of the word!) not being a wine is something very different. At best it shows the clerk’s utter ignorance of the products the store carries, at worst it’s a deliberate misrepresentation.

Is champagne a wine? The Wikipedia says:

Champagne

Champagne, situated in eastern France, close to Belgium and Luxembourg, is the coldest of France’s major wine regions and home to its major sparkling wine. Champagne wines can be both white and rosé. [my emphasis].

Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst‘s Food Lover’s Companion – on page 128, says:

Champagne; champagne [sham-PAYN] This most celebrated sparkling wine [my emphasis] always seems to signal “special occasion….”

There are myriad definitions of champagne online and in print clearly showing champagne as a wine, thus Chris, the store’s clerk, claim is absolutely wrong. If he did not intend to have sparkling wines on sale, why not just say in his handwritten sign that sparkling wines are not eligible for the sale?!?!? It would have saved the store a faithful, free spending, patron!

Was it worth for this merchant to so callously lose a customer over a mere $2.40 discount?!?!?

CS

24
Jan
11

How to Buy a Wine Glass and Enjoy Your Wine


What’s the best glassware to enjoy your wine in? Whether you buy a $125.00 Riedel Bordeaux Wine Glass at Nieman Marcus or a set of 4 Libbey Vina Red Wine Glasses – $15.49 for the whole, at Target – there are certain rules worth observing to maximize the enjoyment of a fine wine.

Pouring wine into the right type of glass shows off the bouquet and enhances the taste - Photo from: blog.andersonville.org

  • Always get clear glassAlthough crystal is preferred, it is expensive and only serious wine connoisseurs can justify the expense. Why clear glass? Seeing the color of the wine, unadulterated by any materials or colors from the glass is an important part of enjoying the particular potable. Besides, the wine color tells how old the wine is, what grape(s) it’s made of and more.
  • The glass should be large enough to release the bouquet – Never fill the glass more than half way, this allows the top of the glass to capture the bouquet or aroma of the wine as you give it a swirl. A quality wine glass tapers at the top.   The bolder the wine the bigger the bowl the glass should have. A delicate wine requires a smaller bowl to bring out its best features.
  • Always get a stemmed glass – This avoids your body temperature warming the wine, since you are holding the glass by the stem rather than by the bowl.

Riedel was the first company to introduce different size glasses to suit each wine type enhancing bouquet color and other fine qualities of the particular wine; many other companies, in almost every price range, followed. Not even the most fervent cognoscente will need every shape, but two or three types, especially when you know what suits which type of wine would add to the wine tasting experience.

The shape of this stemmed glass brings to the bouquet to the nose - Photo from: columbiatribune.com

Glassware used for a Pinot Noir or Red Burgundy are the widest and resemble a sniffer. These glasses direct the aroma to the nose while allowing ample room for the wine to air out. It’s really quite remarkable how wine that is allowed to air out (even for a few minutes) tastes different and far better than a wine that was poured and tasted seconds after.

Glasses for full bodied Bordeaux and other red wines are slightly narrower and less round, but still tapered on top. Chardonnays and White Burgundy are best enjoyed in midrange bowls and are even less rounded. Ideal glasses for Sauvignon Blanc wines are smaller yet, but have a wide bowl to fully show off the flavors and aromas of these wine types. Champagne (or any sparkling wine) is best enjoyed in a tall, narrow “flute.” This shape minimizes warming while letting you see the bubbles in the most attractive manner.

Various types of wine glasses - Photo from: http://www.all-about-wine.com

Non fortified dessert wines require smaller glasses, but are still rounded. Even smaller are Port glasses, which are also used for all fortified dessert wines, they show off the color while directing the bouquet to the nose through the relatively narrow top. While technically unnecessary, the Sherry glass has a more square bowl, it is smaller than a Port glass and very attractive.

Now that you have a nice collection of wine glasses, how do you care for them? Wash between uses, some experts advise washing only with hot water, while others suggest hot water with dish detergent as long as the glass is rinsed thoroughly to be free of all detergent remainder. Even a smallest amount of lemon or other such scented detergent can ruin the nose of any wine. When done, always hold up the glasses to the light to make sure they are clean. A superficially clean glass may be covered with a very fine scum which is very difficult to remove with a gentle rinsing. Such residue will adversely affect the wine especially if it is a champagne or other sparkling types, as they won’t show their fizz.

Once washed let the glasses drip dry, when dry polish them to remove any unsightly water marks. Store them upright in an odor free cupboard.

CS

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




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