March 10, 2017 (Purim Satire)
While I don’t subscribe to the near-hysterics expressed by individuals of certain political leanings with respect to the perceived exclusionary policies threatening our very lives, liberty and happiness; I do believe that this newsletter’s focus on specific types of wine could be perceived by some as exclusionary. As that would be directly against this newsletter’s main focus – education and encouraging folks to explore drinking options outside of their comfort zone; this week represents my attempt to be more inclusive of certain wines that rarely get their due on these pages, despite fulfilling an important, well-regarded and immensely popular part of our beloved kosher wine world.
With a primary focus on wines derived from grapes, it would be understandable that some folks may believe that beverages referred to as “wine” can only be made from grapes, as opposed to some other types of G-d’s delightful bounty placed here on earth for us to enjoy. As obvious proof for the absurdity of such an assumption one only has to look to the European Union who, in typical Continental arrogance, has made it illegal to bestow the title of wine on fermented (or other) beverages derived from anything other than grapes. I mean who made them arbiters of which plants are good enough to be called wine? Given their impeccable record for differentiating between right and wrong in the UN, any such determination by a delusional body obviously bear no importance and should not be taken seriously.
While there are plenty glorious wines that can be created from Vitis vinifera, other than certain “special” wines that benefit from added sugar, these wines usually have to make do with whatever can be derived directly from the grape and the winemaker is not permitted to enhance the resulting wine with any of the numerous additives that have the potential to significantly increase the wine’s “yumminess” (professional wine-speak for tasty) including honey, Splenda, herbs, flowers, roots, bark and many others.
One you deviate from wines derived from grapes, you are almost always in a world were sugar is added (since grapes are among the few fruits with sufficient natural sugar to maintain the long fermentation process), immediately capitulating them ahead of most table wines which can be dry and bitter. Once you factor in the option of increasing the wine’s complexity with proprietary amounts of herbs and spices it quickly becomes obvious to all that these so-called “fruit wines” are vastly superior in every way despite the rabid attempt of so-called wine professionals (i.e. snobs) to convince us otherwise.
Listed below are a few of my favorite such “other wines” which I sincerely hope you will try out. As with nearly every other aspect of life, staying within your boring comfort zone (in this case, operating under the misconception that only fermented grapes yield “real” wine) Rob’s you of many potential ways to enjoy life as G-d intended.
Chizay Winery, Butterfly, Grape Wine with Peach, n.v.: Hailing from the acclaimed grape growing region of the Ukraine, this wine achieves a perfect balance of grapes and refreshing peach flavor, utilizing the butterfly in its name to showcase the harmonious melding of two great fruits. This light, sweet wine exhibits an enticing taste and aroma of succulent peach alongside candied grapes, lovely sugar nuance and a bit of appealing frizzante, which combine for near-perfect pairing with a wide variety of cake and fruit. At only 10% AbV, you can drink this all the time and with a drinking window of now till forever, it certainly fits the bill.
Manischewitz Winery, Blackberry Wine, n.v.: While we are encouraged by the sages not to judge anything by its cover, the amazingly solid jug in which this wine comes is certainly a huge factor in its desirability. Add to that the incredible juicy blackberry flavor, rich alcoholic taste and dripping natural sweetness, this is one for the ages. Dig deep into your grandparent’s cellar and you may be lucky enough to come across a jug that certainly proves “they don’t make ‘em like they used to!
Manischewitz Winery, Cherry Wine, n.v.: Another hit from the near-cultish Manischewitz winery that, despite the bad rap it gets from today’s current crop of wine snobs, is single-handedly responsible for putting kosher wine on the map and honorable represented the genre for decades at everyone’s traditional Passover Seder. Robust and full-bodied, the wine is redolent with sugar that is in complete balance with the cherry flavors that remind one of grandma’s fresh-baked cherry pies. We are lucky enough to have such a delicious wine all on its own but this fruit-based treat is mevushal to boot making it truly a wine for the ages and a mild-mannered 11% AbV. Drink now through 2132.
Maraska, Fortified Cherry Wine, Croatia, n.v.: Hailing from the perfect-growing area of Croatia, this wine is made in the near-perfect growing conditions of that country made famous by its delectable treats. Dessert wines come in numerous styles, and there’s certainly at least one that will please even those who assume they won’t like any like sweet wines. Redolent with rich and ripe flavors of just picked sun kissed cherries, this fortified wine brings the best of ancient traditions together with the bounty of Croatia in order to bring a fabulous wine to enhance any special occasion.
Odem Mountain, Cherry Wine, n.v.: one of Israel’s top producers and located in the Northernmost region of Israel top-wine country, this delicious treasure is produced exclusively from sour cherries which are harvested early specially for this wine. With a robust ruby color with pink rims and an opulent taste this is a fantastic alternative to any sweet grape based wine. Especially inferior types like Sauternes or Canadian Ice-Wine.
Morad Winery, Danue, Date Wine, n.v.: One of the world leaders is the specialized area of kosher fruit-based wine, Morad proudly labels itself a full-blown offerings with a huge portfolio of wines derived from every fruit you can imagine. As dates are a hugely desirable note in any wine, sweet or dry, grape or other fruit based, its great that alphabetizing the wines causes it to be the first on the list. Utilizing the sought-after Medjoul species. ( the largest, sweetest and juiciest date from amongst the well-known species of dates). Following fermentation, the wine is aged for up to 12 months in stainless steel vats yielding 13.5% AbV.
Morad Winery, Danue, Passion Fruit Wine, n.v.: Another of Morad’s hugest hits, this wine is at its best when combined with water or seltzer – as all fine wines should be. Based at the foot of Israel’s Carmel Mountains, amid the beauty of the fertile Galilee, the Morad Winery transforms nature’s harvest into the world’s finest kosher wines and liqueurs, using fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Combining time honored winemaking traditions with state of the art technology, Morad’s skill and experience span several generations. 13.5% AbV but unfortunately not mevushal.
Morad Winery, Danue, Pomegranate Wine, n.v.: Competing with the Rimon winery offerings below for Israel’s best wine, the fresh fruit, sweet/sour, of the ‘Wonderful’ species, squeezed when it is at the peak of its ripeness, undergoes a fermentation process after which it is aged for a minimum of 12 months in stainless steel vats. Pomegranates are effective in lowering blood pressure, sugar, and cholesterol levels and are also rich in anti-oxidants and therefore the more of this amazing wine you drink the better.
Rimon Winery, Pomegranate Dry Red Wine, Galilee, n.v.: Eponymously-named for the treasured fruit from which all its offerings are derived, this winery produces many different elegant wines from pomegranates including this one – the flagship in its portfolio. Elegant & chic with a beautiful deep reddish-purple color and a unique bouquet of rich pomegranate and floral aromas. It has flavors of cherries with a faint hint of black peppers and a well balanced, soft finish. The fruit for this wine was harvested at the peak of ripeness, carefully chosen by our wine maker, aged in French oak barrels for 24 months giving the wine depth, roundness and a remarkable taste and color. Excellent with meats, making it a great partner to spicy foods.
Rimon Winery, Richly Pomegranate, Sweet Pomegranate Wine, Galilee, n.v.: As suggested by its name, this wine has intense and extracted notes of rich red pomegranate and creates a delightfully sweet sensation on both the nose and palate. This sweet pomegranate wine is made from 100% pomegranates located in the acclaimed wine producing region of Kerem Ben Zimra located in Israel’s Upper Galilee. Gently sweet, light pink – colored wine, fruity aromas and flavors of the oak barrels this is a wine to share with special friends.
Rimon Winery, Caudalie, Fortified Pomegranate Wine, Galilee, n.v.: Almost a secret among Israel’s fruit wine cognoscenti due to its extreme rarity, this very expensive and highly sought-after fortified wine takes pomegranates to a whole new level. Enjoy. Quietly.