For Rosh Hashanah tables, there’s a choice for every palate and budget, according to Jerry Hampel of Bergenfield’s Wine Country.
Bergenfield—With one foot still in summer, wine purveyors are preparing to help their customers choose Rosh Hashanah wines for their Yom Tov tables. None are more prepped than Jerry Hampel, the former sommelier who has been professionally specializing in kosher wines for the better part of the past two decades. At Wine Country in Bergenfield, Hampel curates a large selection of kosher wines. In fact, one third of the bottles for sale in the store are kosher, and more than 90 percent of the kosher selections are currently on sale.
Some customers choose sweet wines to convey the sweetness of the season, and other enjoy whites and lighter-colored wines to match the weather. Still others choose full-bodied reds to pair with traditional brisket and poultry dishes. Whatever your fancy, Hampel has recommendations.
Whites, from dry to sweet
An excellent drinking wine, very fruity but dry, is Tishbi’s Emerald Riesling 2014. “It’s crisp—very good for fruit and sweet foods.” Hampel said the temperature this wine is served at makes a difference. “The colder you make it, the drier it will be. The warmer it gets, the more the other aspects of the wine will come out. If you well-chill a white like this, you don’t have any of the nuances that come out when your wine is the right temperature,” Hampel said. This wine is mid priced, at $10.97. For an extremely affordable choice of the same grape, try the Givon Emerald Riesling from Barkan. “We are going to put that on sale for under $6.67,” he said.
For those who love classic whites, try the Yardin Chardonnay for $16.97, or the Yogev Chardonnay Sauvignon Blanc. “Both have a nice clean finish at the end.”
Another interesting and special wine is the Tulip White 2013. “It’s a blend of two different types of grapes, gives you a lot of fruit tones, like mangoes and tropical flavors. Totally different. The price point is $18.47. Tulip makes great wine. Everything they make is good,” Hampel said.
If you want to treat yourself, try the Covenant Chardonnay. “They make very little of it. It’s not always available. but it’s one of the bigger bolder chardonnays that is produced in the kosher market.” It retails at $32.97.
For those interested in sweet dessert wines, Hampel said, don’t miss the Baron Herzog Late Harvest Orange Muscat. “There are over 200 varieties of moscato grapes. They come in all different colors, from dark to white grapes and everything in between. Many grapes can make a moscato wine, but this one definitely has an orange flavor to it that sets it apart from other wines.” The Late Harvest 2013 California Orange Muscat from Baron Herzog is on sale for $16.97.
Keeping Kosher Rosés in Stock
Hampel recognizes that kosher rosés are all the rage right now. While the Domaine du Castel Rosé du Castel is sold out, Hampel has two other rosés that have also sold out in recent weeks: The Flam Rosé and the Borgo Reale Italian Rosé. “The Borgo Reale will be back in stock in the middle of September, and will be priced at $10.47 a bottle,” he said.
“Every time I get a chance to get a rosé, I get them in. There are some that are more moderately priced than the Castel or the Flam, but they are all very good,” he said. Other good rosés that are in stock include the Goose Bay Blanc de Pinot Noir, the Dalton Rosé and the Kadesh Barnea Negev Rosé.
Dry Reds for Meal Pairings
For those interested in a dry red to pair with brisket or other red meats, the Gush Etzion Winery has a very special wine available at Wine Country now: The 2007 Blessed Valley from the Judean Hills. “The hook is this is a 2007; this is an old bottle of wine. It’s probably the oldest kosher wine I have in the store; a $40 bottle. Great wine. Everyone who buys it comes back to buy more. It’s a very very good wine,” he said. Hampel mentioned that all the Lone Oak wines from the Gush Etzion Winery are good and worth a try.
Hampel also said that for those who haven’t tried it, the Ohr Haganuz is a must-try. “I like Ohr Haganuz Amuka series, available in Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah. All very earthy in flavor. It’s a very good glass of wine. Medium priced, too: around $15.47 on sale,” he said.
For those willing to spend a little more, Black Tulip is also making special wines worth trying, with higher prices but for a good cause. “They do very small productions, with numbered bottles, but give jobs to people with special needs. The wine is one of the best out there,” he said. The price is $66.47.
By Elizabeth Kratz