I introduced my parents to the Jewish Week’s Grand Kosher Wine Tasting at City Winery a few years ago and it has become an annual tradition – what better way to celebrate my mom’s birthday each year! We both really enjoy the chance to find new wines for drinking, pairing and sharing, particularly in time for Passover.
I started with Recanti Special Reserve, White, 2011. I tend to be skeptical of wines named for their color rather than grape, but my doubt dissipated with this bottle. I was informed it is a blend of 50% Chardonnay, 25% Viognier and 25% Sauvignon Blanc, all from Recanati’s Manara vineyard. It is a well considered and successful blend. The wine was fermented and aged in French oak for eight months (followed by several more months of bottle aging). It was clearly an above average white. The wine had a great nose and some serious body with a touch of acidity which made me want to pair it with a light, but flavorful arugula salad.
One of the many advantages of wine-tasting: it can take you away on a “vacation.” This was the year that I traveled to a little winery in South Africa called Backsberg. Their 2011 Merlot has body and is the kind of woody and spicy that goes well with roasted mushrooms and brisket. The 2011 Chardonnay was crisp, light, flavorful with a touch of spice and it’s not oaky, which I appreciate. Serve it with a turkey or roast chicken, I’d baste it using the wine along the way.
I also enjoyed their Brut, but I’ll talk sparkling wines in a moment. This winery won’t be exotic for long. They seem to still be getting its legs here US market, but they’re looking to expand their reach so I recommend being in touch with them, and they’ll gladly be a presence wherever you are.
When we reached the bottle of Tabor Adama Merlot, 2010 my mother said “Oh, that’s what I bought for our first night seder hostess!” with so much excitement, that I went into pairing mode immediately. It’s rich flavors make me want to roast some root vegetables.
Admittedly, we jumped the gun and moved on pretty quickly to the bubbly wines. Not surprising, our favorite was a true French champagne that’s beyond the price point for most of my celebrations. The Laurent Perrier Brut Champagne was such a delight. I wouldn’t distract from it’s flavor with anything other than strawberries and chocolate. For a more affordable sparkling wine I recommend the Notte Italiana Prosecco which is a bit more my speed in terms of price. The Teperberg Brut was another great bottle I enjoyed and recommend highly for any upcoming celebrations.
What was missing? O’dwyers Creek Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, 2012 wasn’t on site this year (it was in the top ten last year), but having just tasted it again, I can tell you there were certainly a few spots it could have filled. This New Zealand wine with light, lychee flavors are bright and enticing and, quite honestly, I like to be drinking it all spring long.
Wishing you much luck and a hearty cheers as you select wines for your Passover celebrations. Salud!
Ah, Manischewitz, The classic, sweet Jewish wine at the butt of so many jokes about Jews.
I am not really a fan of drinking it by itself, except of course for that time I drank it straight from the bottle with a straw. But otherwise. I think it makes a good base for sangria in a pinch. And I like to use it in my Tuscan-style chopped liver. But straight up in a glass? Probably not.
But recently I was asked to teach a cocktails-making session at Limmud, a conference dedicated to Jewish learning “without limts.” I wanted to bring some uniquely Jewish flavors to cocktails, and so I immediately began to think of how I could include Manischewitz as part of the fun.
While it may sound from the ingredients that this is a very sweet cocktail, its actually quite subtle. You can add more or less syrup according to your tastes so try it a few ways until you find the right balance for your taste buds.
3 Tbsp Manischewitz syrup (see directions below)
2 tsp lemon juice
3 oz (1 ½ shots) good-quality gin such as Hendricks or Bombay Saphire
Cava or prosecco sparkling wine
lemon slice for garnish
Special equipment: Cocktail shaker
To make the Manischewitz Syrup:
Place 2 cups of Manischewitz wine in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and then continue to reduce 15-20 minutes until it is thick, syrupy and about half its original size. Allow to cool and place in fridge for one hour.
To assembly the drink:
Place about 1 cup ice in a cocktail shaker. Add Manischewitz syrup, gin and fresh lemon juice.
Shake vigorously up and down until white and frothy on top.
Strain into serving glass. Top with approximately 1/2 cup prosecco or cava. Garnish with fresh lemon slice.
Making fresh sangria is one of my favorite year-round drinks to mix up at home.The thing I love about sangria (or shangria as we like to call it in my home) are the endless combination of flavors you can create depending on your tastes, mood and what’s in season.
Last week a dear friend of mine was coming over for a long-overdue catch up. We had discussed going out for drinks and a bite to eat with my daughter, but as my eyes fell onto a bowl of peaches that were just slightly over-ripe, I decided we should stay in and I would whip up a batch of shangria instead.
Some might say you should be picky with the wines you choose for sangria. But I say: use whatever you have on hand! And in this case, I had a bottle of Baron Herzog Sauvignon Blanc leftover from a recent Shabbat dinner. It turned out to be a perfect base for a light, Summery sangria. Add some strawberries, a bit of orange-flavored liqueur and club soda or ginger ale, and you are ready with a light, fruity and slightly fizzy drink.
Want some inspiration to create your own perfect pairing? Here are a few recipes that caught my eye:
Need the perfect serving set for your sangria? I love this super affordable 7 piece set which includes glasses for all your friends too. Sangria isn’t meant to be enjoyed alone, after all.
Cheers! Or rather, l’chaim!
1 bottle dry white wine, such as Baron Herzog Sauvignon Blanc
¼ cup orange flavored liqueur or orange flavored vodka
2 Tbsp sugar
2 peaches, cut into slices or pieces
1 cup strawberries, sliced
8 ounces ginger ale or club soda
Small bunch of fresh mint leaves, around 2-3 Tbsp
In a small container combine orange-flavored liqueur, sugar, peach slices and strawberries. Put in fridge for 2 hours or overnight.
When ready to serve pour the fruit mixture into a pitcher. Add wine and soda.
Garnish with fresh mint.
What’s an easy and elegant way to serve a crowd some festive drinks? Punch! And in the spirit of the trends of 2012, I would like to suggest serving up some Cranberry Moscato Punch as you usher in 2013!
Last year at the holidays I made a rosemary-citrus infused punch that was subtle and sweet, but also more work since it called for an extra rosemary simple syrup. This year I am opting for something a bit bolder (and easier) with cranberry juice, lemon, triple sec and the sparkling wine.
Want to make your cocktails just a touch more special? Try freezing cranberries, mint, lemon or other herbs in square ice cub trays. We use these Tovolo Perfect Cube Trays for our rosemary and cranberry ice cubes last year.
2 bottles Bartenura Moscato wine (or other sweet sparkling wine)
1 lemon, sliced
1 bag fresh cranberries
4 cups cranberry juice
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup - 1 cup Triple Sec (or other orange flavored liqueur)
cranberry ice (optional)
mint for garnish
In a pitcher or large punch bowl combine moscato wine, cranberry juice, orange juice, fresh cranberries and lemon slices. Add triple sec and stir gently.
Serve over cranberry ice cubes, or regular ice cubes, and garnish with lemon slices and fresh mint.