Kosher wines are more than thick extra sweet malaga, just read below.
Below, please find information about (1) selecting wines, (2) the famed wine wheel, (3) kosher wine Q and A's, (4) and some good deals on kosher wines
Let's start with the basics.
Soda is a mixture of carbonated water and flavoring;
beer is fermented grains and hops;
alcohol is fermented grain,
and most WINE is based on fermented grapes.
most wines are red or white, sweet or dry.
Red wine is made with red grapes.
White wines can be made out of white or red grapes; its juice is just not allowed to stay in contact with the red grapes' skins for too long.
When selecting a wine, use three of your senses:
Sight, Smell, and Taste.
First, look at the label on the bottle of wine.
What type of wine is it? Is it a chadonnay? A merlot?
What country is it from? The US? France, Italy, Chile, Australia?
What wine growing area is it from? New York State? California/Napa? Washington State?
Now look at the wine. What color is it? Red, white blush? There are 6 main colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet). How clear is it (what is the wine's clarity -- Clarity... Ist das Klar, Kommissar?)
Second, pour the wine and get a sense of its aroma.
To let a wine breath correctly. Pour champagne into a flute, a red wine into a wide bulbous glass, and a white wine into a tall, thin glass. The shape of the glass allows the wines to breath differently.
By using your nose, you can get a sense of the wine's aroma, its bouquet. Can you smell fruit? Does it smell of alcohol (this is called beady)? Can you smell yeast, spice, woods, grass, or mold? Does is smell like a wet dog?
Speaking of a wet dog, see the wine wheel below. The wine wheel is an established classification system that can help you to determine the aromas of your wine.
Look at the wheel above. The next time someone smells a wine and says it tastes FRUITY, you can reply, "do you mean citrus, berry, tree fruit? Can you be more specific?"
Now we are ready for the third sense,
Taste the wine. Let it roll on your tongue and gums so that you get a full sense of the taste. Once again, use the wine wheel, above, to pinpoint any tastes your recognize. Is it fruity? Is the fruit taste too overripe or plummy? Is it sweet or dry or somewhere in between? Can you taste the oak barrel in which the wine fermented?
Does the wine taste acidic? This may be due to the tannins in a young wine. Does the wine have low acid? If it has low acid, this may be termed a flat wine. Or is there a good balance or roundness? Do you detect several complex tastes? This complexity is known as the wine's body.
Now wait a moment after swallowing that taste of the wine. Is there an aftertaste? This is known as the wine's finish.
Remember that there are four major tastes: Salty, Bitter, Sweet, and Sour. Salty is balanced with bitterness. Bitter means that tannins (from oaks barrels, grape skins and stems) are present. Sweet means a mix of sugar, fructose, glucose, ethanol or glycerol. Sour usually means that Tartaric, Malic, Lactic, or other acids (plus carbonation sometimes) are present. Which makes one wonder, why is there a Sweet and Sour Chicken, but not a Salty and Bitter Chicken?
Okay, now you know how to quickly judge a wine, with sight, taste, and smell. Now let's take a look at some basic wine facts.
The Major Grapes:
The most well known American grapes from which wine is made are Catawba, Concord, the Cayuga White hybrid, Delaware, Niagara, and the Sayval Blanc hybrid. Older Jews are most familiar with the Concord, a very Acidic tasting grape.
The most famous European grapes are the Cabernet Sauvignon (red), Pinot Noir (red), Chardonnay, Merlot, Sylvaner, Riesling, Muller-Thurgau, Nebbiolo, Zinfandel, Gamay, the sweet Muscat and Hungarian Tokay, and spicy Gewürztraminer varieties. But these grapes are also grown in the US.
Sweet muscat grapes are used to make Asti Spumante; while Rieslings are mostly associated with German and South African wines. The red Cabernet Sauvignon is used for dry wines, such as Bordeaux. Merlot grapes are used in Merlots and Bordeaux style wines. Nebbiolo's are used in Italian Sangiovese, Barolo, and Chianti. Pinot Noirs are used in Burgundy. Gamays are used in Beaujolais.
Chardonnay grapes are white grapes that have more complex tastes than sauvignon grapes. Chardonnay grapes are used for Champagne, Chardonnay and Burgundy wines.
Most wines sold in the US are blended wines, meaning that they are created by mixing (or blending) the fermented juices of several varieties of grapes. The vintner will try to blend wines to get a certain level of tartness, sweetness, acidity, and dryness.
Hey, guess what? Dirt matters, as does weather. If it's cold, the vines produce grapes with low levels of sugar. If it's warm, there is more sugar. If the sugar level is low, guess what, the acid level will probably be high. During fermentation, yeasts turn the sugars into alchohol; and bacteria turn the malic acid into lactic acid to soften the acidity.
That's why wines from Tuscany, California's Napa Valley, Spain's Rioja, the Rhone valley, the green bottled-Mosel River valley, the dark bottled Rhine River valley, the Italian Piedmont, and New York State use different grapes. Both the soil and the climates differ.
Well, that's about it for an introduction to wine. Now let's go through some Kosher Wine Questions and Answers.
Q: What makes a wine kosher?
Q. Does the Talmud mention wine?
Answer: In order for a non-pasteurized (non-Mevushal) wine to be kosher, only a Sabbath observant Jewish person is supposed to bring forth the wine from the grapes. If the wine is pasteurized, this rule is not followed (and can even be poured by a non-Jewish waiter). This rule dates to a time when non-boiled wines were used in pagan rituals. By limiting wine consumption to the above, this limited a Jewish person's contact with pagan rituals of idolatry.
Also, the utensils, ingredients (yeast, enzymes, GELATINS, agents), and equipment used to create the wine must be kosher or be used exclusively in the production of kosher products.
Answer: The Talmud mentions more than a dozen types of wine, including chamar (sparkling wine), kunditon (spiced wine), and yashan noshan (aged dry vintages).
Q: Did Rashi make heavy sweet concord grape wine?
Answer: No, Rashi, the great rabbi, resided in the Champagne region of France and was a vintner. The grapes he grew, harvested and made into wine were of a non-Concord variety.
Q: When do Jews drink wine ?
Anytime they want... Actually, in terms of religious rites, Jews recite a Kiddush (sanctifying prayer) over wine prior to Shabbat and festival meals. During Havdalah, a kiddush is also recited. During the Passover and Tu B'Shvat Seders, four cups of wine are drunk. At jewish weddings, two cups of wine are drunk. At the brit milah (bris) of an eight day old male child, one cup of wine is drunk.
Q: Why do Jews in America drink heavy sweet wine?
Answer: The American Jewish community of the last Century mostly resided on the Eastern Seaboard, where the Concord grape was king. The Concord grape is acidic, and to be more palatable, sugar or berries are added to the wine to make it less acidic. Therefore, the wines used by our parent's and grandparent's were heavy and sweet. This does not have to be the case in the present, since more varieties of grapes and fermentation processes are available.
So, nu, already... let's discuss some kosher wines.
ALFASI: A Chilean wine brand that was created by and is distributed by Royal Wines of Brooklyn, NY.
Alfasi 1997 Kosher Cabernet Sauvignon (Chile, South America - Maule Valley)
Alfasi 1997 Kosher Merlot (Chile, Maule Valley, South America)
Visit eVineyard.com to learn more about these wines.
BARON HERZOG: A label from the Herzog family of the Royal Wine Company. Though named for the famed baron Herzog, coincidentally (or not), Mister Herzog owns Royal Wine and Kedem Wine. He strated out driving their trucks, got paid in stock, and slowly became the company's owner.
Baron Herzog 1997 Kosher Chardonnay California (Look for aromas of lemon, apple and chamomile, with an understated oak bouquet. Creamy, rich, inviting. Rtaed a Very Good by The Wall Street Journal)
Baron Herzog 1998 Chenin Blanc California (Spicy, with exotic tropical fruit and honey flavors. Smooth, spicy and exotic)
Baron Herzog 1997 Kosher Merlot California. (Soft, full and aromatic with a supple allure)
Baron Herzog 1998 Kosher Sauvignon Blanc California. (Clean, slightly serious, and flowery, so fresh it reminds you of the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. Rated a Very Good by the Wall Street Journal.)
Visit eVineyard.com to learn more about this wine.
HAGAFEN: Hagafen ("the vine") is the work of Ernie Weir, a graduate of UC Davis. Ernie's is married to Irit, a sabra. Founded in the early 1980's by Zach Berkowitz, Norman Miller, and Ernie Weir.
1999 Hagafen (5760) Sauvignon Blanc, California (Crisp, zesty and refreshing Sauvignon Blanc, and Kosher for Passover. Grassy, floral, and grapefruit notes)
1997 Hagafen Merlot, California/Napa (Rated a solid "Very Good" by The Wall Street Journal. Nice fruit taste, and depth)
1997 Hagafen Cabernet Sauvignon, California/Napa (Rated close to "DELICIOUS" by The Wall Street Journal. Classy and beautifully crafted. Complex, Fruity. Lovely lingering finish) (Goes for about $26)
1998 Hagafen (5759) Pinot Noir, Napa Valley California. (Light to medium-bodied; bright berry flavors; soft tannins; ready to roll and quite versatile at the table. Kosher for Passover)
Visit eVineyard.com to learn more about this wine.
ABARBANEL: Howard Abarbanel, of that Sephardic hotbed of activity in Cedarhurst Long Island, markets wines using his family's crest and heritage, that of the revered Don Yitzchak (Isaac) Abarbanel of Lisbon, Minister of Finance to Iberian royalty in the 15th Century.
GOLAN WINERY: Golan Wines, based in Katzrin, Israel, is a label that represents four kibbutzim and four moshavim in the Golan Heights and Galilee of Israel. Its labels include Yarden, Golan, and Gamla. It is imported into the USA by Royal Wine of Brooklyn, NY. It takes advantage of the rich volcanic soil and cool temperatures in the Golan Heights. The winery's first general manager and guiding spirit, Shimshon Welner, and its first winemaker, Californian Andy Starr, combined high-tech winemaking and state-of-the-art equipment with the Israeli pioneering spirit and California style to create this cooperative.
Gamla 1996 Kosher Chardonnay (Israel) Lively and fresh with Burgundian flavors and finish.
Yarden Merlot. A rich red wine with opulent berry fruit; concentrated and supple; aged in oak for added complexity. Chewiness and depth. Rated a Good/Very Good by The Wall Street Journal.
Yarden Mount Hermon Red 1998. Rated an 87
Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon 1996. Rated a 90
Gamla available online at eVineyard.com.
WEINSTOCK CELLARS: Weinstock Cellars is produced in California by Robert Weinstock. He started it in 1984. Weinstock Cellars winery, is located in Santa Maria in central California. But since 1993 it has been owned by the Royal Wine Corporation.
Sauvignon Blanc. California. 1997. (Fresh and tart, with light herbal flavors and strong zesty fruitiness. Light pleasant grassiness. Rated a Good by The Wall Street Journal).
Chardonnay. California. 1996. (Woody taste, interesting. Rated a Good by The Wall Street Journal).
GAN EDEN: In Sonoma County, California, winemaker (and Louisville native) Craig Winchell founded his Gan Eden ("Garden of Eden") winery in Sebastopol so that he could set his own work schedule to include the observance of Shabbat and the raising of his five kids. Craig is a UC Davis honors grad. His principle wines are Cabernet, Chardonnay, and black Muscat, with limited quantities of late harvest Gewürztraminer. The black Muscat is especially dense and rich.
1990 Cabernet Sauvignon: Rated an 89 GAN EDEN (Alexander Valley-Mendocino County) Ruby. Medium Bodied. Balanced Acidity. Moderately extracted and oaked. Currants, black pepper, prunes. Opens with an unusual licorice nose. Rich body reveals hints of overripe fruit and mild sweet notes, which are soon swallowed by a surge of tannins in the finish.
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