The Pollack family loves to travel and appreciates great wine. They enjoyed a wine tour in the Jerusalem Hills, after a very rainy day! We started the day trying to go into the vineyards but we got stuck in a bit of mud in the Tzora vineyards, so we continued inside to Tzora Winery to enjoy a tasting of their wines. We tasted the Neve Ilan 2010, Judean Hills 2009 and Shoresh 2008.The second winery we visited was Agur Winery. Shuki, the wine maker and owner, was his quirky self and spoke about his philosophy of wine, Israeli food and being a cultured wine grower and drinker. We enjoyed the Blanca 2010, Kessem 2010 and Special Reserve 2008. All Shuki's wines are blends and have an Old World sophistication to them. After a delicious lunch in Abu Gosh, we visited Domaine du Castel on Moshav Ramat Raziel. From the picture, the Pollack family enjoyed some amazing cheeses with a pairing of the Castel wines. After a tour of the beautiful facility, we tasted the C Blanc du Castel 2010, Petit Castel 2009 (not on the market yet) and the Grand Vin 2009 and 2008. The Pollack family will enjoy these Castel wines for a years to come! Le'Chaim and Happy Hanukah!
On Christmas Day the Manglik family enjoyed a wine tour in the Jerusalem Hills. It was a very rainy day but no one complained as we went winery to winery enjoying Israeli wines. Our first winery visit was Tzuba Winery. We tasted the wines with the winemaker, Paul Dubb. We tasted the Pinot Noir 2009, Merlot 2008, Harmony 2009 and Metsuda 2007. The Harmony is a new wine at Tzuba and it is a blend of Sangiovese and Shiraz. It is a light wine that is great with any Italian meal or on its own. The second winery we visited was Tzora Winery where we sat with Shula and she explained the importance of terrior in their wines. We tasted the Neve Ilan 2010, Judean Hills 2009 and Shoresh 2009. Recently Tzora sold out of its ice wine but it will return in a year. After a hearty lunch, we visited Agur Winery. We tasted the wines with Shuki, the owner and winemaker, and listened to his philosophy on wine and life. Shuki was in a very good mood because of the cold, rainy weather that he loves so much. We tasted the Blanca 2010, Kessem 2010 and Special Reserve 2008. We went into the barrel room and tasted the Special Reserve from the barrel! The day was enjoyed by everyone and sparked an interest in Israeli wines. The Manglik family will enjoy their Israeli wines for future dinners and parties! The wine tour was in collaboration with Shalom Israel Tours...a great way to see Israel!
The Gordon family celebrated Hanukah together in Israel. They love visiting their daughter and seeing new places when they come to Israel. They knew that there were wineries in Israel but did not know how to find them so I took them on a wine and beer tour in the Carmel Region.The first winery we visited was Amphorae Winery where they toured the Tuscan style winery and enjoyed a cheese and wine tasting. They tasted the Chardonnay 2007, Syrah 2006, Rhyton 2006, Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 and the port-style wine. We then went to Tishbi Estate Winery where we enjoyed lunch with a tasting of some simple wines. After lunch we headed to the new Wine and Chocolate tasting room where everyone loved the yummy combination. They especially enjoyed the Organic Syrah from Sde Eliyahu vineyards. The third winery we visited was Somek Winery where we tasted Chardonnay 2009, Adom 2008, Carignon 2006 and Bikat HaNadiv 2005 (Bordeaux style blend). The Gordon family loved the intimate atmosphere and love that goes into Barak's wine wines. The fourth place we visited was Pavo Brewery. We sat overlooking the Carmel Mountains and Mediterranean Sea while enjoying a tasting of Wheat, IPA, :PILS, Stout, and Reddish Lager. The beer was enjoyed
Susan and David love wine and have enjoyed going on wine tours in California, Oregon and New York. When they visited Israel they knew there were some wineries but they wanted to learn more so they took a wine tour in the Jerusalem Hills Region. Our first stop was Tzuba Winery where we enjoyed a conversation with Paul Dubb, the winemaker, and tasted the Pinot Noir 2008, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Merlot 2009, Metsuda 2008 and the late harvest Chardonnay dessert wine. The second winery we visited was Tzora Winery where they tasted the Neve Ilan 2010, Judaen Hills 2009 and Shoresh 2009. After a hearty meat meal with hummas and yummy pita, we visited Agur Winery. Shuki was in a good mood and entertained us with his stories and philosophy of life. We tasted the Blanca 2010, Kessem 2009 and Special Reserve 2009. Shuki ran out of Rosa 2009! Most importantly, mom, dad and baby, had a relaxing day and learned a lot about the wine industry in Israel. They will all have some Israeli wines to enjoy for months to come! This wine tour was in collaboration with Shalom Israel Tours. A great way to visit Israel!
On Saturday, December 17th a group of friends from Tel Aviv University enjoyed a day tour to the Carmel Region. This is the last week of their Study Abroad program and they wanted to learn about Israeli wine. We started the day at Amphorae Winery and Noga took us around the winery and explained the specific process of wine making that Amphorae uses to make the best possible wine they can from the quality vineyards all over Israel. We tasted the Chardonnay 2007, MedRed 2007, Rhyton 2006, Syrah 2006 and the Port style wine. After a lunch at Manuella we visited Somek Winery where Barak invited us into his backyard and showed us where he ferments and ages his wine. We tasted the Chardonnay 2009, Merlot 2006, Carignan 2006, and B'rkat HaNadiv 2006. Everyone learned how to taste wine and the history of Israeli wine. It was a really fun day and a lot of wine was tasted..and drunk!
“They wanted to kill us; we won. Let's eat!” This is the mantra for most Jewish holidays, and Hanukkah is one of my favorite holidays, because we eat yummy food and not matzoh - and there are, as Adam Sandler says, “eight crazy nights” of parties with friends and family!
No Jewish celebration is complete without wine. When you plan your Hanukkah party, what Israeli wine will you serve with your Hanukkah cuisine? Here are some perfect pairings for your Hanukkah feasts - or nosh!
Start the evening with some bubbly spirits and Loukoumades (aka Fried Honey Puffs). There are Israeli wineries that make bubbly, such as Tishbi Brut, Gamla Brut, Pelter Blanc de Blancs (not kosher) and lastly, something new and unique on the market: Pombubbly, from Rimon Winery, wine made from pomegranates. I love the Pombubbly for celebration time!
Along with the appetizers, you should include scrumptious Sweet Potato Latkes (my favorite and the recipe is included below) which pairs well with a crisp Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. I suggest the Tzora Neve Ilan 2010 or the Gamla Sauvignon Blanc 2010, because the aroma and flavors of the tropical fruits blend deliciously well with the taste of the sweet potato.
For the main course of traditional Ashkanazi mama’s cooking, you can’t go wrong with a juicy brisket, apple noodle kugle and tzimmes. I hope while you are reading this your mouth is watering and your stomach is screaming to you, “I’m hungry for Hanukkah food!” Since everyone has a different pallet and appreciation for red-dry wine, I would put a variety of red wines on the table for your guests. Here’s the list of my suggestions:
Tzuba Harmony 2010, which is a blend of Sangiovese and Shiraz. This wine is full of red fruits and is a fresh, light red dry wine for those people that do not want a heavy wine. If you cannot find this wine in the States, then look for other Tzuba wines like the Cabernet 2009 or Metsuda 2007.
Amphorae MedRed 2007 (not kosher): a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. It is oaked in French barrels for 12 months so it is not overpowering in oak and is well balanced. There are great flavors of berries, mocha and dark chocolate.
Dalton Reserve Shiraz 2009 is a beautiful eggplant color and is a rich powerful wine with a hint of peppery spice and flavors of wild berry and licorice. This wine is for people that love a deep, rich red wine to drink with their juicy brisket.
If you are not sufficiently full, there is always room for desert!
If you live in Israel than you are in sufganiot (donut) heaven during Hanukkah. Every bakery makes a wide variety of flavors, and of course there is always the traditional jelly flavored sufganiot. There is also the famous Krembo that only comes out in the Winter season in Israel. A Krembo is a cookie bottom, marshmallow in the middle and covered with a thin layer of chocolate. With these desserts, I would pair an elegant dessert wine such as the Tzuba late harvest Chardonnay dessert wine or the Odem Mountain Amber dessert wine. Both of these wines have a honey and almond flavor and pair well with any dessert.
Some other boutique Israeli wineries that I would recommend for the other nights of Hanukkah are: Yatir Winery, Ella Valley Winery, Adir Winery, Ramot Neftaly Winery, Naaman Winery, Agur Winery and Vitkin Winery. There are 300 wineries to choose from in Israel and these are just a few of my favorites!
There are many more Israeli red wines that I love and would pair with a tasty Hanukkah meal. Thank goodness there are eight nights of Hanukkah to light the menorah, drink wine, exchange presents with friends and family and eat latkes and sufganiot. L’chaim!
Esther Cohen, a native of Boston, is the Founder of My Israel Wine Tours, a company that has taken over 600 people on wine tours around Israel. She lives in Tel Aviv with her husband.
Sweet Potato Latke Recipe from AllRecipes.com
· 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded
· 2 eggs, lightly beaten
· 1 tablespoon brown sugar
· 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
· 2 teaspoons ground cloves
· 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
· 1/4 cup vegetable oil for frying
- Place sweet potatoes in a colander. Place a paper towel over the potatoes, and squeeze the potatoes to release as much liquid as possible. Let the potatoes sit to release more liquid, then squeeze again.
- In a large bowl, combine sweet potatoes, eggs, brown sugar, flour, cloves and cinnamon; mix well.
- Heat oil in large heavy skillet to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
- Form mixture into pancake size cakes, and fry in hot oil. Flip cakes after 2 to 3 minutes (when bottom is browned) and brown other side. Drain on paper towels, and serve piping hot!
Enjoy this article by Kassandra Grunewald, who is the Co-Founder of TasteTLV. TasteTLV is the ultimate culinary guide for dining in Tel Aviv.Wine Bars are a growing trend in Israel as the Israeli wine industry progresses, we have more quality wines to enjoy!http://www.jpost.com/ArtsAndCulture/FoodAndWine/Article.aspx?id=248308