“Are you wondering why all your Jewish friends got to play hooky from work and school yesterday and today? Well, the answer is Rosh Hashanah…a magical Jewish holiday that you probably know nothing about.”
—Jeff Wysaski http://www.pleated-jeans.com/
This is not an homage to Manischewitz although I have received multitudes of requests for me to post a review. Not going to touch that! This is a genuine wine review brought to you graciously by my friend @kosherreview.
Being a newbie blogger and tweeter, one of the very first people to engage with me directly was @kosherreview. “Kosh” and I clicked right aways as we share a common love for the Trader Joe’s wine department. Moreover, my enjoyment of the intellectual pursuits of philosophy and the cultural practices of world religions, left me yearning to know more. What are kosher wines and why was “Kosh” sending me recommendations to try? Why was I the chosen one? Where was this going? Ah-ha! Many of the Judeo-Christian religions take great pleasure in wine and it was now my responsibility to proselytize the democratization of this sacred nectar and it’s deeper meaning beyond pure leisure and getting knockered. It is about family, gathering, love and ritual…and I’m down with that.
First things first, what is this holiday and why should it influence our wine selections? Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. The day is believed to be the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, and their first actions toward the realization of humanity’s role in God’s world. Too bad they had the cider – oopsie! As I was exploring my intellectual curiosities about the holiday I came across the most excellent of memes to break it down for us gentiles:
Second things second, what is kosher? According to Jewish law, the three basic elements of keeping kosher are: 1.avoiding any non-kosher animals such as fish that don’t have fins and scales – egads no lobster, 2. land animals that do not both chew their cud and have cleft hooves – that means NO BACON? Mon Dieu! 3. Most birds so no pheasant-soup for the soul, 4. NEVER eat meat and dairy together – that’s fine, I can keep my charcuterie and cheese boards from commingling, check. 5. Finally, only eat meat that was slaughtered in a certain way, and drained of blood but hopefully not embalmed. I have gastronomic concerns, but let’s not question a people who are 3,761 years ahead. The upside is more pork buns and lobster rolls for the rest of us!
“Kosh” elaborated eloquently in the following Q&A I imposed upon her:
CWC: What year is this on the Hebrew calendar?
KWR: We will be starting the 5775th year according to the Jewish Calendar!
CWC: What do you eat and drink for the holiday?
KWR: It is customary to eat symbolic foods such as apples dipped in honey to evoke a “sweet new year”, the head of a fish (to symbolize the prayer “let us be the head and not the tail”. On Rosh Hashanah eve there is a special dinner which usually includes greetings and a lot of wine.
CWC: What are your favorite kosher wines and do you have any notes?
KWR: This question was the hardest for me as I have many, however, I tried to select those who will be most adequate to Rosh Hashana’s dinner so I was able to narrow the list to 4 wines, one for each course.
My first selection will be the Sara Bee Moscato NV. Sweet white wine from Puglia region, full with playful aromas of spring flower, almond blossom and lemon mousse. It is a rich and lively aperitif or a dessert wine, will be perfect for the “Kidush” before eating the apple with honey (the greeting in the beginning of the dinner).
For the first course, which is usually a gefilte (sugar added) fish I would go with Baron Herzog Chardonnay 2013. This Chardonnay is crisp and refreshing, smooth -textured yet lively on the palate. A very complex wine with notes of tropical fruit, apple and with a hint of vanilla on the finish. It pairs perfectly with fish or chicken.
For the main dish I always like to choose red wine which pairs up perfectly with meat, so I chose the Terrenal Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 from Spain. This wine has a nice tannic backbone and a pleasant mid-palate full of plum and cherry flavors, hints of spices and a note of chocolate highlighting blackberry and black cherry fruits.
Last but not least – the desert wine. The Porto Cordovero 2005. This wine was fully matured in wood, it has aroma of sweet black currant fruit, raspberry and dark chocolate. Will pair wonderfully with sorbet or fruits.
CWC: Are any of them under $10?
KWR: Unfortunately the price of the Porto Cordovero and Baron Herzog Chardonnay are above 10 dollar.
However, the price of the Terrenal is only 4.99 dollar!!! But the taste is like a 15 dollar wine , as far as I know under this brand you can find kosher wines from Spain , Chile and Argentina.
The Sara Bee is also below $10, I bought it in Trdaer Joes for $6.99. it’s definitely my favorite Moscato!
CWC: Why did you start tweeting about Kosher Wines and do you have a blog or other venue for your reviews etc? (Opportunity to shamelessly plug yourself)
KWR: I always loved to try new wines, every time I see new Kosher wine I hadn’t tried yet I have to taste it! When my friends are looking for a bottle of wine they always call me to hear my recommendations. This is why I started twitting. It’s not always easy to find Kosher wine in the States, many times the store doesn’t sell the wine as Kosher and you need to know in advance which wine you are looking for (for example when I go to Trader Joes the wine sales person never knows that the Terrenal is Kosher….) so I thought my experience can help others as well. I also publish my recommendation and other wine related stories in my Facebook page – Kosher Wine Review.
CWC: If you had one wine region you would pick as a dream vacation where would it be?
KWR: Tuscany Italy is certainly my dream vacation. I can only imagine walking in those medieval towns and viewing the robust red wines, works of art, and the rolling picturesque views that inspired painters throughout centuries.
CWC: I think you meant to say Sonoma, but that’s ok, Italy is cool too. We’re still besties.