I am a winer and occasionally a whiner. In this blog I will write about all my wining experiences (and occasionally whine about the wine horror stories, yes they do exist!). I will review and describe in detail all the good, the bad, and the ugly wines, and provide my own rating system, which is much simpler than the Wine Spectator, et al (and what does 92 points really mean anyway??).

As I am also a writer, be prepared for the long-winded sentences of wine description, and the use of many a metaphor in my wining adventures.

Swirl, sniff, sip, and enjoy!



Thursday, March 31, 2011

Recently Invented Kosher Wines For Jews

Pinot Bris - circumsized Pinot Gris vines

Manigewurtz - the first white semi-sweet Manischewitz

Chagall Champaigne - so bubbly, you start flying and singing Hava Nagila

Torahntes - a Torrontes varietal specifically designed for Ladino Jews celebrating Simchat Torah

Rosénfeld - a special rosé wine for pairing with gefilte fish and horseradish

Tzinfandel - a table wine perfect for pairing with tzimmes and tzatziki (and don't forget to wear tzitzit!)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Oy Vey, Mevushal!

I love my people.  I truly have nothing against my people, except they complicate everything.  Thank God we are allowed, even prescribed, to drink wine for religious practices.  But there's a catch, or three.  The wine has to be kosher.

So, how kosher is really kosher?  Well, it depends.  If you are like me, a practically non-practicing Jew, you'll drink anything from any winery in the world, for any occasion, provided it tastes better than Manischewitz. 

But for some more traditional Jews, I'd  be a shiksa, so use caution if you are sharing your wine with me.  If you are a more practicing, good Jewish girl, you must be careful to check your wine label for the Kosher hechsher ("seal of approval").   What makes the wine kosher?  Apparently, the wine making process must be handled only by observant Jews to be considered kosher.  (It's fine for illegal non-Jewish immigrants to collect the grapes for minimum wage at your vineyard, however).   

You still have to be careful during the time of Passover, which is coming soon, so read and memorize this before you go to Premiere or any other wine store and buy your Kosher for Passover wine, which should not have any contact with bread, dough, or grain.  It's ok if it comes in contact with matzos, though, especially immediately following them and gefilte fish with horseradish into your stomach.

And finally, if you are a very observant Jew and you never drive or light electricity on Sabbath (you can always ask your gentile husband to do that), be extremely careful about who pours the wine for you.  It's always better to pour the wine yourself and freely control the amount in your wine glass.  Don't forget to top that glass off!  However, if you must have somebody else pour the wine for you because of a hand
injury or plain old laziness, here comes a concept of mevushal.

While it sounds like some exotic disease, it just means "cooked" or "boiled" in Hebrew, which is not really appetizing when you think about your wine going through this process.  Basically, the wine has to be pasteurized so that it could be poured by non-observant Jews (like myself) into your pure Jewish princess wine glass.  Otherwise, if the wine is not mevushal, just be careful not to drink it with your goyim friends. 

Sounds a little meshugga, no?  But remember, the laws of kashrut date back thousands of years, so a lot of things that made sense then, do not now.  There are even some radical Jews who suggest that most American wine process is so automated that it's kosher by default.  God forbid that you listen to them, though, because you are a good mensch and you must make your Yiddishe mama proud.

DISCLAIMER:  By no means, am I an expert on the subject, so please check some reputable sources on the laws of kashrut and production of kosher wine.  All of the above information is summarized from the Internet sources and Premier wine tasting class on the wines of Israel.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

In Vino Veritas

As Ancient Romans said, in wine there is the truth.  But the truth is, that there are just not that many good proverbs or quotations about wine.  Hence, I decided to create my own.  Enjoy the following puns, and feel free to add some of your wisecracks.

Make wine, not war!


You had me at frontenac.


Tell me what's in your wine glass, and I'll tell you who you are.


Rosés are red,
Viogniers are white,
After this bottle
It's love at first sight.


Ask not what your wine country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your wine country!


Ein, zwine, dry, gewurtz...


A wine review is worth a thousand words.


And finally for the true wine connoisseur:      Vine, vidi, vitis vinifera.

Monday, March 21, 2011

How It All Started (borrowed from my other Writer's Blog)

Cooker's Block

Note: "cooker" is an incorrect but endearing term used by ESL learners that means "cook" or "chef".

So here I am at my Physical Therapy, doing the treadmill.  I love the treadmill, for it lets me concentrate on some creative writing book full of inspiring ideas, and at the same time do some deep torturous self-examination.  As Socrates proclaimed at his trial, which would eventually sentence him to death, "The unexamined life is not worth living", so I am the Great Master of this sport, setting my own trial and being my own plaintiff, defendant, advocate, prosecutor and judge, .

As I try to concentrate on the "Writing as a Sacred Path:" by Jill Jepson, who traveled the world analyzing the spiritual practices of all religions and marrying it with the writing practices, and as I am being enlightened by another pearl of wisdom about nurturing the stories like you would plant a seed, the self-deprecating plaintiff kicks in.  "You are no good.  You ain't no writer.  You can't create nothing.  You are a boring person, a whiner, and a bad wife.  You always make problems for yourself.  Why you can't just let it go and be happy for once!  What was the last time you cooked dinner?  No wonder your husband don't like you."

Who can fight with that?  I, the defendant, just let it go on, ramble itself out, trying to focus on another pearl of wisdom from this wonderful book.  A thought pops into my mind, that time from a wise mature compassionate advocate, the one that keeps observing all from the back of my consciousness.  "You don't just have a writer's block, you have a cooking block.  That's why you can't cook and come up with any idea of what to cook.  You are too tired and winded to create anything."  Yes, thank you for your understanding.  Finally someone not trying to judge me.

As I keep walking on the treadmill and thinking what would I like to do for myself today, what would my heart desire, I see an image of a dusty honorable bottle of shiraz, so dark that it's concealing the treasure inside it.  Yeah, shiraz sounds good.  I tried it for the first time in Tandoori's, Indian restaurant, and it was sublime like a vampire's feast: spicy, deep, earthy, black currant, thick, violet blood.  Since then I've wanted to buy a bottle at Premiere but never found time.  Now is the time. 

Reliving the tangy aroma of the wine, my mind comes up with the perfectly paired dish to accompany it: medium done, with a pink kissable softness inside and smoky seared crust on the outside, grilled sirloin steak, light on the spices to enhance the real taste of meat;  woodsy crimini mushrooms and caramelized onions sauteed in olive oil with savory and caraway seeds; plain salad with iceberg lettuce, slices of radish and cucumber, garnished with parsley, drizzled with lime juice and olive oil, seasoned with a dash of freshly ground black pepper and salt.  Simplicity and sincerity, without embellishments.

So, my plan for the night was determined.  The sage old bearded  judge has spoken.  With the new-found goal and creativity, I create a meal that is perfection in itself, like a brilliantly written poem. Writing and cooking are intermingled, both being the capricious children of inspiration.  You have to dig deep inside the well of yourself to find the perfect recipe from your soul. 

 Needless to say, my husband was pleased. ;)

And for the true wine connoisseur,

here's the wine I drank with that unforgettable meal:

Why Wine?

Why is wine good?  Why is wine worthy of writing a blog about?

Well, here's a case in point: I'm highly allergic to work.  Today is the first day of work after spring break, and all of a sudden, my neck and shoulder started hurting at work after sitting at the computer.  When I came home, the pain somewhat subsided (aided by a couple of ibuprophen).  After the wine learning and tasting class at The Wine Room, a charming friendly store in Williamsville, and having tasted the whole of 9! wines, my neck and shoulder pain is only a memory.  Which proves the point that wine is GOOD.

Here are some great quotes by some wise thinkers about wine:

“Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.” by none other but our founding father Benjamin Franklin


“It is well to remember that there are five reasons for drinking: the arrival of a friend, one's present or future thirst, the excellence of the wine, or any other reason.” Latin Proverb


“Wine gives courage and makes men more apt for passion.”  Ovid (an Ancient Roman guy)


“No nation is drunken where wine is cheap; and none sober, where the dearness of wine substitutes ardent spirits as the common beverage. It is, in truth, the only antidote to the bane of whiskey.” by another great founding father Tomas Jefferson


"Wine is sunlight, held together by water!" by Galileo Galilei (the guy who found that sadly the Earth was not the center of the universe)


"Wine is at the head of all medicines; where wine is lacking, drugs are necessary."
The Talmud (the Jewish religious book)


And finally: 
"Where there is no wine there is no love." by Euripides (another ancient dude, but from Greece)

 So it's truly proven that wine is essential for human happiness and life satisfaction.  Wine is passion and love and sunshine in a bottle (if you're drinking the white one).  Wine is a whole world captured in one sip.  I've tasted wine that I wanted to swim in.  I've lost myself in a sunny meadow of a French Chardonnay.  I buried myself deeply in the earthy moss of a Bordeaux.  I've met a perfect bottle of Italian Merlot I fell in love with and wanted to marry.

In short, I have succumbed to the world of wine geeks and junkies and this is my new (and hopefully lasting) obsession.