Archive for the 'kosher French wine' Category

03
Jun
13

Experiencing Wine


In February 2011, Eric Asimov wrote in the New York Times:

…most of the gaudy descriptions found in tasting notes will not help to understand the character of a bottle or to anticipate the experience of drinking it.

Photography by Irving Schild

(from his private collection)

for

The Kosher Scene

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While it may seem heretical to say, the more specific the description of a wine, the less useful information is actually transmitted. See for yourself. All you have to do is compare two reviewers’ notes for a single bottle: one’s ripe raspberry, white pepper and blackberry is another’s sweet-and-sour-cherries and spice box. What’s the solution? Well, if you feel the need, the urgent need, to know precisely what a wine is going to taste like before you sniff and swallow, forget it. Experience will give a general idea, but fixating on exactitude is a fool’s errand. Two bottles of the same wine can taste different depending on when, where and with whom you open them.

Wine is a moment, is a mood. A few year’s ago, Yoav Siseley (at the time the distributor of Tishby Wines), said on my radio show that if you drink a favorite wine, as you sit with good friends or a loved one, your taste buds will experience the full rainbow of flavors in that bottle; if, however, you drink that same bottle at a moment when you are upset about something, or someone, the taste experience will be very different. And then, then there is breathing time…

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Shortly after we first started this blog, I had a tasting session with walking wine encyclopedia, taste teacher extraordinaire, Costas Mouzouras from Gotham Wines and Liquors, in Manhattan. He had me open a bottle (among others) of a Cyprus’ wine, we tasted it and… I was not impressed! He told me to wait 15 minutes, then half an hour, then 2 hours. While the bottle remained the same, each time revealed new richer notes, the taste kept on improving until it was barely recognizable from that first sip.

John Cleese, of Monty Pithon fame, made a series of videos explaining wine to the uninitiated. In one of them, he invited various celebrities to his estate. Some knew wine, some did not. In many cases the reactions were so different the viewer had to wonder if they were all talking about the same bottle. Because, as we said, wine is a personal experience, an experience shaped by the moment, shaped by the mood.

ExpWine5

Barely a few years ago, kosher wines were of the extra sweet Concord, or extra sweet Malaga variety, almost exclusively, with an occasional sweet Tokay thrown in to the mix. Those days are now thankfully well behind us. Kosher wines come in a variety of grapes and mixes of grapes, they range from sweet to semi sweet, from semi dry to dry. There are many world class, award winning, vintages that just happen to be kosher. They come in all price ranges and there is always something to suit your taste.

Yes, you could roll the wine in your mouth – just like the experts – because they try to expose it to all the different taste sensitive parts of the tongue. At the tongue’s tip are the sweetness receptors, just a little back you’ll taste the saltiness. The sides of the tongue will tell you about the acidity or sourness while the back of the tongue will tell you of any bitterness. Yes, you could do all that or you could just relax and sip…

CS

12
May
11

Date and Nut Bread


I had some dates from Israel and decided to use them in a recipe, I was intrigued by the following one from Elizabeth Wolfe-Cohen‘s Perfect Jewish 


Delicious!!!

Date & Nut Bread

Yields: 12 slices

Directions

  • 1 1/2 cups self rising flour, plus a little more for dusting
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp ground ginger [SYR used 1 tsp]
  • 1 1/3 cups chopped dried dates [SYR did not use dried ones]
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda [baking soda]
  • 2/3 cup boiling water
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp butter or margarine, softened [SYR used margarine to keep it pareve]
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, pecans or almonds [SYR used walnuts]
Directions
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grease a 4″x8″ loaf pan. Line the base and and sides with nonstick baking parchment paper to come to 1″ above the sides. Grease again and dust with flour. Sift the flour, salt and ginger into a bowl.
Put the dates into a large bowl with bicarbonate of soda. Pour over the boiling water and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
Stir the egg and butter [or margarine if you prefer it pareve] and flour mixture into the date mixture and beat with a wooden spoon until well blended. Stir in the nuts. Pour the mixture into the loaf pan, smoothing the top. Tap the pan gently on a surface to expel any air bubbles.
Bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour or until set and well colored and the bread begins to pull away from the sides of the pan; a knife inserted in the center should come out clean.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes , then leave to cool completely Using the paper as a guide, carefully remove the bread from the pan. If not serving the same day keep in the paper to prevent drying out.To serve, remove the paper from the base and sides, slice thinly.
Prep time: 20 minutes – Bake Time – 1 hour

The bread came out very aromatic, it tasted subtly sweet, we had it with some cholov Yisroel Mascarpone cheese made at Pomegranate Supermarket‘s kitchen and recommended by their resident cheese expert, none other than our good friend Elizabeth Bland. We washed it down with a Herzog Selection Chateneuf 2009, a white semi dry with a fresh, fruity bouquet. The bread was delicious, the Mascarpone just right, and the wine proved a perfect pairing!

CS

28
Apr
11

Wine and More… Wine!


Aside from the Arba Kossot on both sedorim, whenever there are large festive gatherings wine is sure to flow. This year I partook of a great collection of potables that showed how far kosher wines had come since the days of my youth, when the choices were extra sweet and even sweeter. No longer were these wines just from Jewish vintners, but many wineries – already renowned around the world – joined the fray and produced kosher versions of their best sellers. What entails making a wine kosher? Not – as the old joke went – adding a few cups of sugar per bottle, but merely following the standard process under rabbinic supervision.

I was privileged this year to taste various superb wines from around the world (which I picked a few days before Passover at Gotham Wines ans Liquors, 2517 Broadway; New York, NY 10025-6934 Tel: 212.932.0990) including some from well known wineries that have already made their mark in the world at large.

During chol hamo’ed and the last two days of Pessach, when there were large numbers of people, both at my oldest son’s home in Lakewood (NJ) and at my oldest daughter’s in Providence (RI) I tasted some superb wines which I brought from New York. In the photo above we have a Barons Edmond & Benjamin de Rothschild 2007 Haute-Medoc, Binyamina, 2006 Odem Ruby Series Syrah, Mount Hevron 2003 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and a Jonathan Tishby 1999 Special Reserve Merlot.

The 2007 Haute-Medoc was superb, complex, yet delicate; fruity and spicy with blackberry accents, it had a long finish. Mevushal.

2006 Odem Syrah had blackberry and black pepper with floral accents on the nose. Full bodied and well balanced it greatly enhanced the lamb dish with which it was paired. Only 5190 bottles were produced.

Mount Hevron‘s 2003 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon offered ripe raspberry flavors finishing with aromatic spices.

Tishbi 1999 Special Reserve Merlot, aged for 18 months in oak barrels, it brims with blackcurrant, berries and plum flavors and aromas. Exquisite! Out of a limited, numbered edition we had bottle number 5123.

Thishbi 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Limited Edition is an inexpensive wine that tastes far better than its price suggests. It’s a blend of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Petit Verdot. It shows forest berries, blackcurrant, plums, cloves and a bit of green pepper on the nose, followed by sweeter notes of spice and dark fruit on the palate. Moderate tannins complete the rich feel to the long, lush finish. Approachable and decadent.

CAPÇANES 2008 Peraj Ha’abib/Flor de Primavera from Montsant in Spain. Robert Parker rated it a well deserved 90. Made from Garnacha, Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, it has a deep ruby/purple color. It was aged for 12 months in French and American oak barrels; it displays sweet blackcurrant notes combined with black pepper. It displays earthy minerals and tobacco on the palate leading to a long luscious finish. Daniel Rogov estimates it will reach its best by 2012 to 2018. I’ve tasted this wine before and through every vintage it seems to get better! Only 1300 cases of 6 bottles each were produced for this vintage.

Borgo Reale 2005 Brunello di Montalcino is made from 100% Brunello variety of the Sangiovese grape. Floral and fruity on the nose, its flavor suggests plums, berries and minerals with subtle hints of coffee and tobacco leading to a long finish. Italy’s done it again!

For dessert we enjoyed Willm 2008 Gewurztraminer and Balma Venetia 2006 Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise.

The 2008 Gewurztraminer is made from grapes that reach their full potential in Alsace. These wines are far above those of produced elsewhere. Served chilled, it exhibited rose petals and lychee on the nose; on the palate its very, very subtle sweetness combined with the perfect amount of acidity to make it very refreshing.

The 2006 Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise displayed glorious notes of peach, grape, apricot, mango and lychee. We also had it at lunch with a selection of cheeses, this past Monday, its sweetness was balanced by just enough acidity to make me feel I had bitten into the actual grape.

Two wines that we finished off before I got a chance to photograph (yes, they were that good!!!) were Barkan 2006 Superieur Shiraz and Psagot 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Barkan was, by far, the best Shiraz I ever remember tasting. On the nose it’s a complex symphony of notes of black cherries, blackcurrant, mulberries, cloves and cinnamon with overtones of coffee, dark chocolate and smoke (typical of Judean Hills wines). It is a full bodied, with a long finish. Winner of France’s Vinalies Internationales 2010 Silver Medal and Israel’s TERRAVINO Mediterranean International Wine Challenge Gold Medal for 2010

Psagot 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, It shows deep black fruit aromas awith generous notes of spicy oak, both the brawn, nicely balanced. On the nose it exhibits blackcurrants, berries and figs, those supported by notes of espresso and roasted Brazil nuts. It was a pleasant surprise and far better than more expensive wines, in fact it easily rated among the best I’ve tasted this Passover.

Next year may we sip the cup of redemption in Yerushalayim Ir Hakoidesh!

CS

27
Apr
11

This Evening’s Radio Show and a Recipe


Right before Pessach we did a two hour show featuring various wine experts and distributors, talking about kosher wines from around the world. It ended with a half hour conversation with Chef Jeff Nathan of Abigael’s.  You can listen to the archived show here.

This evening our internet radio guest will be Chef Sarah Lasry. Mrs. Lasry is Food Editor at Binah Magazine, author of The Dairy Gourmet and The At Home Gourmet. For eight years she owned and operated Tastebuds, a very successful dairy restaurant in the Howell/Lakewood area in New Jersey. You can hear our conversation, at 8:00pm (Eastern Time) on BlogTalk Radio. To talk to our guest, or to comment, you may call in at: 714.333.3357, we will be on from 8:00 – 8:30pm.

Looking through her latest of cookbook, The At Home Gourmet, I found it well organized and easy to follow. It’s divided in seven sections (Amazing Appetizers, Simple Soups, Zestful Salads, Lazy Lunches, Delicious Dinners, Waist Watchers, Basic Desserts) )and has a well organized Index. Quite a few of its recipes are destined to become new favorites, among them some of the very decadent desserts.

While I’m a carnivore to the core, those who follow this blog also know that any recipe that calls for cheese is sure to get my attention. Therefore, out of the many mouthwatering recipes in this book, I thought the one below would be perfect…

So Cheesy Onion Potato Gratin

  • 1 large onion sliced thin
  • 2 tbsp.extra virgin oil
  • 2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced into thin rounds
  • 2 1/3 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup grated Mozarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 4 tbsp. melted butter
  • Extra shredded Cheddar or Mozzarella for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a skillet over med-high heat, saute the onions in olive oil until they have browned (about 4-5 minutes). In a sprayed 9 x 13 baking pan, layer the bottom with the fried onions. Then layer the potatoes over the onions, covering them completely and overlapping the potatoes one on top of the other.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk the heavy cream, salt, black pepper and both cheeses together. Pour the heavy cream mixture over the potatoes. In a separate bowl, add the crumbs and melted margarine, mix well and then spread generously over the top layer of potatoes. Sprinkle with a little more cheese and bake the gratin until it becomes bubbly, the top is brown and the potatoes are completely soft, about 20-30 minutes. Let gratin rest for about 15 minutes before serving.

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy! As for me I plan on pairing it tonight with a well chilled Balma Venetia 2006 Muscat Beaumes de Venise… can’t wait!

CS




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