Being a self-important wine snob comes with many fun evenings, boisterous parties with friends, and the occasional free bottle from importers and winemakers.
Still, crowing about how much you know about wine also earns you endless calls and texts from friends requesting advice on purchases, or local organizations asking you to choose wine for events. (I happen to greatly enjoy helping out charity orgs with wine, which is something I already love, and certainly beats calling people and asking them for donations.)
Now, many of these friends, associates and non-profits share one common denominator condition for their wine requests — they should be ACAP (aka, As Cheap As Possible).
Choosing delicious but still cheap, mevushal (cooked or boiled) wine for the masses in the kosher world is akin to searching for the Holy Grail. And if Indiana Jones taught me anything, discovering the Holy Grail takes a great deal of effort, sweat, blood, and more than anything, faith.
I’ve tasted more than my fair share of plonk, i.e., cheap, poorly-made wines I wouldn’t serve my mother-in-law. (I love my mother-in-law, so that’s not even a MIL joke.) Some of the greatest sellers in the kosher wine market would fit neatly into the plonk category, and yet the uneducated consumer, with the shop owner who cares not, and the winemaker who ultimately cares about selling wine and running a profitable business, continue purchasing these bottles in great quantity.
So in this great quest, when the Red Heifer of kosher wine finds its way into my glass, I celebrate its existence, and I am rewarded in my persistence of faith. I believe we have such a bottle in the 2017 Carmel Winery Selected Mediterranean Blend ($10, found in most online and retail shops).
Now, the story of Carmel Winery is a very interesting one, and one that we will tell in this space in the future. But for now, know that Carmel was founded in 1882(!) in Rishon LeZion, Israel via the assistance of the great philanthropist, Baron Edmond de Rothschild, who at the time was the owner of the (still) world-famous Château Lafite Winery in Bordeaux.
Today, the historic Carmel Winery produces a wide array of wines, in price point, quality, and variety. (OMG, I can’t wait to tell you all about the incredible Carmel Kayoumi Vineyard Riesling.)
The 2017 Carmel Selected Mediterranean Blend is a blend of 45 percent Shiraz, 30 percent Carignan, 20 percent Petite Sirah, and 5 percent Viognier. The wine presents as deep burgundy red, while still mostly translucent. There is a nose of blackberries and red fruit jam. The mouth shows a medium body which is fruit forward with light to medium tannins and lingering tart fruity acid.
In short, a great effort by Carmel to fill shelves with a cheap, mevushal, lovely red wine. Don’t feel bad opening the Selected Med Blend with your Sunday night Shabbat brisket leftovers. In fact, I tasted the bottle after it was open 24 hours, and it was perhaps even nicer.
This is a perfect bottle for a catered affair, where the host can keep one eye on his otherwise thinning wallet, and the other on the quality of the wine he serves.
Dr. Kenneth Friedman is a Baltimore-born kosher wine aficionado/connoisseur. He is known for his unsolicited wine advice and runs many local kosher wine tastings.
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