The “KFWE season” is now behind us! The KFWE (Kosher Food and Wine Experience) comprises wine and food shows that take place in five different locations around the world (New York, Miami, Los Angeles, London and Tel Aviv) where more than 400 wines are opened for tasting. Taking place just a few weeks before Purim, it makes for a great opportunity to taste and choose wines that will grace the table and delight the guests on the upcoming holidays. After having tasted most of the KFWE offerings, I have chosen a handful of wines that I very much enjoyed and recommend you all to consider for your Purim seudah. The Purim seudah requires an abundance of responsible drinking. (Please do not drive afterward; have a designated driver accompany you if you are going to friends or family.) When drinking big, bold, full-bodied wines, one’s palate often gets tired quickly, losing the ability to enjoy more wines after a glass or two.
The solution, I believe, is to broaden your horizons. Sure, with the mitzvah of the seuda and drinking ad d’lo yada (to the point one would not be able to tell apart Haman the Persian tyrant from Mordechai the tzadik), Purim is one of the main “wine holidays.”
We learn from Megillat Esther that even when God is not intervening as obviously and publicly as He is with the makot or Kriyat Yam Suf, He nonetheless never abandons Am Yisrael, the Jewish people. On the contrary, Haman had plotted to hang Mordechai and eradicate the Jewish people. God, however, did v’nahafoch hu, He turned Haman’s plans upside down. Haman was hung on the gallows he had built to hang Mordechai, and the Jewish people fought back and won against the mighty Persian army.
So, here with wine, let’s do v’nahafoch hu and turn things around as well. Instead of opening the bottles you have been stashing away for special occasions, keep them for the upcoming Yomim Tovim and go for more approachable, somewhat lighter wines.
I recently had the opportunity to taste many new and interesting wines. Tabor Winery, which is located in Kfar Tavor, just came out with the latest vintage of their Adama series of high-value wines, which includes a lovely, crisp Rosé 2019 made from Barbera grapes, with citrus, strawberry, tropical fruit notes and subtle minerals, delicious.
Vitkin winery has a lovely, unique, dry Gewürztraminer 2018 that is delightful, complex, fragrant and restrained yet very much approachable with hints of lychee, white peach, lime and rose petals.
Netofa is an incredible boutique winery in the Lower Galilee, with its vineyards nestled at the foot of Mount Tavor. They make wines from Mediterranean varieties originating from regions such as the Rhône Valley in France, Spain and Portugal. Netofa’s wines showcase very well the unique richness of Israel’s ancient terroirs and microclimates. Their wines are made by veteran winemaker Pierre Miodownick who for over three decades produced some of the best kosher wines to ever come out of Europe. Miodownick’s experience, combined with the Israeli sunshine and soil, have yielded the Netofa Tel Qasser Red 2017, a blend of Grenache and Syrah. It is a smooth blend that is medium in body and features an elegant mouth-feel with notes of red forest berries, Mediterranean herbs, as well as a long and elegant finish.
Jezreel Valley has an unusual wine made from Argaman, a grape variety that is indigenous to Israel where it was created in the 1970s, a hybrid of the French-Spanish Carignan and the Portuguese Sousão. While the previous vintage was a bit on the heavy side, the 2016 is more restrained and nuanced, making it even more interesting and pleasant to sip. It truly provides an intriguing drinking experience and I highly recommend you check it out!
Last, but certainly not least, if you prefer sweeter wines I suggest you be on the lookout for the Herzog Late Harvest Chenin Blanc 2018 (or any other vintage). This dessert wine is a crowd-pleaser, appealing to both amateurs and sophisticated palates. With notes of honey, quince jam and baked pears, it is the perfect companion to oznei Haman. It is also available in a 375ml format, which makes it a great gift to include in your mishloach manot.
Mishenichnas Adar marbin b’simcha! When the month of Adar comes in, we shall rejoice! These wines will definitely play their part. Purim sameach, l’chaim!
By Gabriel Geller