Given the importance of wine in ancient times, it is not surprising that the writing on a clay jug fragment found in Jerusalem dating from the time of King Solomon is actually part of a wine label. University of Haifa Professor Gershon Galil believes the inscription indicated the vintage and appellation as well as quality of the wine contained within.
Led by the owners of two of the region’s most renowned vineyards, France’s Burgundy region has applied to become a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site. A principal aspect of their application is their long history of winemaking, which dates to the Middles Ages. Beginning in the year 910, monks classified, subdivided and named their vineyards depending upon the quality and character of the grapes and resulting wines.
A recent visit to Israel has reaffirmed our enthusiasm for the Holy Land’s developing wine culture. New wineries seem to crop up every week, and there is a palpable sense that enjoying wine is becoming as fundamental to Israelis as their love of coffee.
While wine bars are not yet as numerous as the coffee shops, they’re certainly growing more crowded. Wine lists at restaurants are likewise ever more thoughtful, with an improving range and better alignment with chefs’ cuisine. Even wine selections in supermarkets have grown.
One trend that’s on an uptick in the world of kosher wines released on the US market is “mevushal,” or “cooked,” wines. These are wines that have been thermally processed in accordance with religious strictures so as to inoculate the wine from being rendered not-kosher by the handling of non-Jew or a non-Sabbath observant Jew.
The Abarbanel Wine Company traces its family roots from the biblical King David to Don Isaac Abarbanel, the leader of Spanish Jewry at the time of the 1492 expulsion. Born in Lisbon, Don Isaac was a scholar, philosopher and prodigious author who also served as treasurer for the Portuguese King Alfonso V, and subsequently for the Spanish royal family. He lent large sums to the Spanish throne during their battles with the Moors, and their reluctance to repay him likely contributed to their decision to expel the Jews at the war’s end.
Nothing goes better with a fine glass of wine than a nice hunk of aged cheese. But when you’re cracking open a lovely bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon whose grapes were harvested from the mineral-rich hills of the Promised Land, a shrink-wrapped package of Muenster cheese slices just won’t do.
‘Buy on apple and sell on cheese” is an old adage in the wine trade. The malic acid in apples will make almost any accompanying wine seem more harsh and sour, whereas the fats in cheese will make most wines seem richer and more supple (which is why so many wine shops always serve cheese at in-store wine tastings).
Many different wine grape varietals are actively cultivated and made into wine around the globe, yet only a handful of them are widely recognized by consumers. An unfortunate tendency among many wine drinkers is to avoid the unknown and stick to familiar varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc or Merlot and, for kosher consumers, ever-popular Moscato. Sure, some have ventured into Malbec, Shiraz, Petite Sirah, or maybe even the occasional Riesling. Most, however, seem to prefer the comfort of convention, rarely trying anything different.
Thanks to the British, the world of fine wine is firmly anchored to the love of claret. A derivative of the Latin word for “clear,” the word “claret” used to refer to the pale, rosé-like color of the wines produced in Bordeaux back in the 14th and 15th centuries. Even though Bordeaux eventually evolved into a darker, deeper wine over the centuries, the British wine trade —and its highbrow clientele — adopted the term still refers to the wines of Bordeaux generally, as well as to wines styled after Bordeaux. It’s even a legally protected trade name within the European Union.
When the weather (finally!) turns warm, we start to think about—and drink—rosé. Combining the refreshing qualities of a white wine with the fruity flavors found in red wine, rosés are remarkably food friendly, typically pairing well with spring and summer fare. Most rosés are light and easy drinking, best served when young and very chilled. But when we’re in the mood for a more complex and richer rosé, we often reach for one from Tavel.