Lighter Wines

On the lighter side….

Post holiday lighter meals call for lighter wine but still wines that you can be excited about. Our friends at Royal Wines always have some great ideas for us.
“When I think of lighter wines I think of Italian wines – wines that are made to be enjoyed with food. These wines typically have a bright acidity that keeps them lighter on the palate,” says Gary Landsman, our chief wine go-to guy. Some of the wines from Ovadia Estates come to mind, such as the new Nobile di Montepulciano (local availability soon) or the ever popular Rosso di Motepulciano, each great deals at about $12-$16. The Morellino di Scansano & Dolcetto D’alba are also nice options (at about $20).

As for some nice white options, try the Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc (everything from Goose Bay is great these days) and one of our favorites, the Carmel Kayoumi Riesling.

Thanksgivvukah, What wines are you serving?

The convergence of Thanksgiving and Hanukah is definitely a time for celebration of family, friends, and food.  But what to drink can be a bit confusing since traditional wine pairing may not work with both turkey and fried foods. Our friends at Royal Wine, are always on hand to help us make these decisions and make sure our wine is as good as our food.

Most wine experts would say that big and bold red wines such as Cabernet or Shiraz can overpower the delicate flavors of turkey.  But, Gary Landsman, our Royal Wine contributor says, “I think with a rich gravy these big wines pair fine with the food, especially if that is what people like.” I’m excited about this because I always like to have some cabernet with my meal.  Having said that, Zinfandel (such as Baron Herzog OLD VINE Zin) is a big red wine, but it’s frequently available and promoted on Thanksgiving since it is an American wine, synonymous with California.

Two other “traditional”  Thanksgiving wines are Pinot Noir (a light bodied red that won’t overpower turkey that also goes nicely with cranberry sauce because it often has hints of fruit in the wine) and Chardonnay.  Chardonnay is a rich white wine that pairs well with white meat turkey. Gary recommends, Goose Bay Pinot Noir (this is a big favorite in my house) and Herzog Russian River Chardonnay (the grapes grow near the Russian River Valley – thus the name, and add some unique flavors like lime and tropical tastes).  It’s definitely on my need to taste list.

Having said all that, the best pairing for latkes and fried foods or doughnuts is probably a nice bubbly.  This exciting and historical day when Hanukah and Thanksgiving actually match up calls for a toast too.  The Bartenura Prosecco, Elvi Adar Brut Cava or Drappier Champagne would be great ways to celebrate the double simcha.

Champagne Mojito

Serves 4 – 6

Fall is all about the leaves turning, the fires in the fireplace and lots of weddings. What goes with all of these things is some good champagne or sparkling wine. I love it cold and bubbling (splurge for the Drappier Champagne) but also mixed with other flavors.  I often serve it in a champagne flute with a big scoop of grapefruit or lemon sorbet right in the glass. It’s refreshing and super tasty.  Last week, I read that Chef Bobby Flay made it into a mojito (my fav!) and I had to try it.  I love the results!  Use Elvi’s Adar Brut or the Bartenura Brut Prosecco in this recipe. Both are reasonably prices and terrific on their own or in these two sparkling cocktails.

1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish
1 lime, cut into wedges
1 cup rum

1 bottle very cold Prosecco, Cava or Champagne

Put the mint, sugar and lime wedges into a small pitcher and muddle them together (which means really mash them to get the mint flavors combined with the others and allow the mint leaves to release their flavor). Stir in the rum. Strain into chilled champagne glasses  and top off with the champagne. Super delicious!

A Trip to the Alexander Winery

Just recently, GKC friend, Gary Landsman, from Royal Wines took a great trip to Israel and while there, made some time to visit friend and winemaker Yoram Shalom, at Alexander Winery (he also visited Barkan and Segal – are you as jealous as I am? )
The Alexander winery is located just South of Haifa in Beit Yitzhak and is renowned for some very special wines. Gary arrived just in time for a grape delivery, a new variety of grape, which is part of Yoram Shalom’s winning strategy to making great wine, always creating new wines by experimenting with new grapes and blends.  Gary got right to work (hours of it), sorting the grapes on the ramps before they go into crushing, carefully removing stems and unwanted leaves, and checking for imperfections.  Alexander winery was working these grapes for some of their new blends and particularily a new Rose. How amazing will it be when the wine comes out to know that Gary had a real “hand” in creating the wine?! I think that’s one of my bucket list items!

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We asked Gary what else is new at Alexander.  Great news for all of us, Alexander is planning and currently developing a gorgeous tasting and visitors center.  Stay tuned for grand opening dates.  And Yoram has brought in an experienced winemaker to assist him at Alexander.  Avi Feldstein, formerly of Segal Winery, and noted by critics as “forward thinking, bold, and creative” has joined  Alexander Winery and will surely be another great asset.

What to drink by Alexander? Gary responded with “really? I have to pick, I enjoy so many of their wines!” But then he added try the Gaston, named from some Russian ancestry, a blend of Cabernet, shiraz, and merlot and is bold, satiating, and smooth. Then for a special wine, add Alexander the Great, Cabernet to your list.  This wine needs some decanting time or breathing time after opened but Wow! Well worth waiting for (btw, it scored a 90 at the International Wine Review).  The wine breathes and becomes a wonderful experience to savor and enjoy the flavors.  And for a more affordable but delicious option try the Sandro.  It’s a Cabernet and Merlot blend with hints of citrus and apples.  I just know it as one of Yoram’s terrific creations where he demonstrates his ability to blend varietals, grapes and techniques to creative wonderful flavors in his wines.

I can’t wait to visit the new visitor’s center on my next trip to Israel.  For now, I’m going to enjoy another glass of the Alexander the Great Cabernet.

Succot Wines

Succot is early this year and as a result there is a good chance there will be some warm days for those Yom Tov lunches. Although many people prefer red wine, especially at a Yom Tov meal, In invite you to consider a deliciously refreshing white.  The Carmel Kayoumi Riesling is a dry and incredible refreshing version of an old sweet favorite.  It was my summer go to wine and I enjoyed it with so many friends and with readers on  GKC too with recipes that pair well with it, check out the post.

If you insist on red during the warm weather, consider something that does well when slightly chilled.  Big tannic red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon don’t do as well chilled and can taste metallic.  Try a lighter red such as the Tzuba Pinot Noir or Shiloh Legend. Whatever you choose, pick wines you enjoy and that pair well with your menus. Check out our wine pairing tips too if you need some guidance.   Chag Sameach.

Simchat Torah Wines

At this point it feels like the past month has been all about eating, drinking and then eating and drinking some more.  Now is a great time to find those hidden affordable gems – the $20 & under wines that taste like $30-40 wines.  Weinstock Cellar Select Cab, Teal Lake Special Reserve Shiraz, Yogev Cabernet Sauvignon/Petit Verdot and Segal’s Cabernet/Merlot Special Reserve all come in at $20 or less and can please even the most discerning wine drinker.  I buy a mixed case of these and use them all year too.

Here’s what I’m drinking for Rosh Hashannah

We all want a sweet year but many of us have graduated past the days of sweet Kiddush wines.  But don’t write off sweet wines altogether.  To wrap up the perfect yom tov meal, consider a lusciously sweet sipping dessert wine such as the Herzog Reserve Late Harvest Orange Muscat.

Working our way backward, if there were ever a time to buy a trophy wine to enjoy with a meal it is at a Rosh Hashana Seudah.  The latest great wine that people don’t know about hails from Spain.  Clos Mesorah is a blend of 3 grapes that is knock-your-socks-off fabulous.  If you like rich, bold red wines to complement the meal this high-end bottle is a great bet.

Carmel Kayoumi Riesling

Carmel-Kayoumi copy

Admittedly, I’m partial to red wine.  I just love the smooth richness of a good Cabernet.  But this summer my friend Gary at Royal Wines has opened my eyes and my palate to great white wines that are perfect for this hot summer.

Specifically, my new fav is the Carmel Kayoumi Riesling.  Seriously, this wine pairs with anything. A tad bit “tropical to the nose”, says the experts, which means it smells fresh and flavorful, but tastes a bit dry.  This combination marks a brilliant wine with grilled chicken cutlets, cedar planked salmon, pasta, or grilled steak.  This is what we enjoyed last night, a rosemary grilled steak with Carmel Kayoumi Riesling.  Simply divine.

It’s a bit hard to find, so grab it when you see it!

Available at for $24.99

Wine Pairing Tips


Although we restrain from drinking wine during the nine days, we still have good food and wine on our mind to enjoy for the rest of the summer.

Usually we write about specific wines that work well with specific foods, but we thought demystifying wine pairing is long overdue. So in the spirit of a summer full of great wine accompaniments here are some easy to follow and simple wine pairing guidelines.

Grilled Meats: The tannins in red wine help break down the fat in meat so serve a wine with strong tannins like a Cabernet with thick cuts of meat. Both wine and beer release the fat in meat too and help to tenderize it so always use a wine or a beer in your marinades to get soft and flavorful steaks.

Fish: I like to serve crisp white wines like Sauvignon Blanc with light fish dishes like sole or flounder, and fuller-bodied richer whites like Chardonnay for salmon or tilapia. Meatier fishes like tuna, halibut or thick cuts of salmon are great with light reds like Pinot Noir. And for sushi, try anything with bubbles, it refreshes the palate with every bite.

Fried Foods: Acidity is important when pairing with fried foods. Try Dry Rose, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, but nothing too sweet. White Riesling has a touch of sweetness and works well too.

Spicy Foods: Avoid high-octane wines. The alcohol and heat of the food will accentuate each other and make for an overly warm experience for the guest. This is where the fruity wines or low-alcohol wines work best.

Chicken: One thing I love about serving chicken is that it’s an easy palate to pair. I serve almost anything with chicken depending on the type. Grilled chicken on the bone or chicken with heavy sauce can hold up to bolder wines like Cabernet or Malbec. Lighter chicken cutlets or boneless chicken is better with somewhat lighter whites like Merlot, or Pinot Noir.

Dessert: Make sure your wine is sweeter than your dessert. Wine and chocolate are perhaps the most perfect pairing.

Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc

Don’t miss this great wine that I am truly loving for the summer. This Sauvignon Blanc has incredible citrus fruit flavors.  It’s produced from grapes harvested after a long, cool growing season n New Zealand’s South Island.  Serve Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc alongside fish, cheeses, and freshly baked breads, or light chicken dishes.  To me it’s a perfect wine to serve company on a warm summer day.  And stay tuned for the White Sangria video that features Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc coming soon!


After many nights of bubbly while enjoying latkes and sufganiyot, we have taken to relaxing with a nice new “old” scotch from Tomintoul. Both the 14 year and 21 year can be nice sippers while admiring the Menorah. Relaxing and romantic. Try these smooth sippers or give them as a holiday gift.

Pacifica Meritage

Kosherfest Winner! Pacifica Meritage from Royal Wines is a must try wine. I couldn’t wait to taste it there.
The grapes were sourced from the famous Pepperbridge and Seven Hills vineyards located in the Walla Walla Valley area of Washington. These two vineyards are responsible for some of the best Washington wines, a newer region for wine in the United States and the first kosher winery in the Northwest region. This wine is a blend of Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Its a new combination of grapes that creates a fantastic red wine drinking experience. Bold and smooth and pairs well with meat, chicken, lamb, and any Shabbos meal. Priced at about $34 its a great value.

New Kosher Wines for the New Jewish Year

Several new wines have arrived stateside just in time for Rosh Hashana & Succot.

5773 is almost here and with it come new wines from Spain, Australia, Italy, France, California and of course Israel.

Though we don’t typically celebrate Rosh Hashana like many people celebrate New Year, there is a new sparkling wine from Spain known as “Cava” on the market from ELVI wines. The Elvi Cava has actually been around for a few years, but the new one is mevushal and sports a handsome new label. The only thing that stayed the same is the great refreshing taste! Joining the Cava are two other brand new wines from Elvi, The Elvi Invita, a refreshing and subtly sweet white wine blend, and the Clos Mesorah, a high-end red wine blend that has already received rave reviews and is absolutely delicious.

Australia is famous for their Shiraz (elsewhere often known as Syrah). We were recently introduced to the Harkham winery, the first and only all kosher Australian winery. Following the successful release of the Harkham Shiraz comes two new wines, the Harkham Cabernet/Merlot as well as the Harkham Chardonnay. These great additions from Harkham are also all mevushal and will soon be joined by a non-mevushal Shiraz.

Italy has a long history of making great wines, especially wines that go well with food. Despite this history, only a few of the best kosher Italian wines have ever found their way stateside. Recently however new wineries have been contracted to produce kosher wines and the results have been clean, fresh and affordable wines that wonderfully compliment cuisine. The Ovadia Rosso di Montepulciano is a wine from a lesser-known region of Italy that with its juicy fruit and fresh acidity is a great compliment to meat, chicken or fish. Stay tuned next time for wines from France, Israel and California…

Gary Landsman, AKA the “Wine Tasting Guy”, makes, sells, writes about and of course tastes wine. Presently doing PR/Marketing work for Royal Wines, you can contact Gary with any wine related questions at

Summery Peach Sangria

Makes 4 tall glasses

The 9 days are over and its time to enjoy some of the great summer wines and summer fruits in more of GKC favorite Sangria.  This one is easy, just mix and pour, and is perfect for this time of year.  Peaches are only available this sweet during July and August and we like to use them in as much as possible.

2 firm-ripe peaches, cut into thin wedges
1/2 cup peach liqueur
1/3 cup superfine granulated sugar
3 cups chilled rosé wine (750-ml bottle). We recommend the Castel or the Flam Rose
2 cups chilled sparkling water
Mint leaves, optional

Stir together peaches, peach liqueur, and sugar in a large pitcher until sugar is dissolved and let stand 1 hour.
Stir in wine, sparkling water, and some ice. Garnish with mint leaves.

GKC Martini

Since wine is taboo during the nine days, we’ve come up with a special GKC cocktail for those slow summer evenings

GKC Martini

For 2 – can be doubled if friends drop by

1-1/2 ounces vodka
1-1/2 ounces cranberry juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 thin slices jalapeno (optional for those who like an extra kick)

Combine vodka, cranberry juice and lime juice and pour over ice. Add jalapeno, if desired. Sit back and relax.

Shavuot/Spring Wines

The weather is FINALLY getting warmer and Shavuot is almost here!  The warm weather and dairy Shavuot meals provide the perfect excuse to pop the corks on the newest vintages of white and rosé wines.

Most white and rosé wines should be consumed young, while they are fresh and crisp.  Which means that when selecting a white or rosé this Shavuot, try to buy wine from recent vintages such as 2009, 2010 or 2011.  Also remember to serve these wines chilled, but not too cold – that can mask some of their lovely aromas which enhance the wine drinking experience.  Try removing them from the fridge about 10 minutes prior to drinking and look for aromas of flowers, citrus fruit, berries and even things such as cotton candy or bubble gum!

My three current favorite warm weather wines are:

1 – Carmel “Kayoumi” White Riesling
2 – Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc
3 – Drappier “Carte D’ Or” Champagne

And there are 3 wines currently on their way to our shores that I am very excited about drinking outside on a nice day.  Keep your eyes open for their arrival.  They are:

1 – Elvi “INVITA”
2 – Castel Rosé
3 – Flam Rosé

Wine complements food and completes a meal.  Save the grape juice for the kids and indulge in a refreshing glass of wine this yom-tov.  But remember that whether white, rosé or a robust red, the most important factor when choosing a wine is finding one that you enjoy.

Gary Landsman, AKA the “Wine Tasting Guy”, makes, sells, writes about and of course tastes wine.  You can read more of his writings in his blog at or contact him with any wine related questions at

Lighter Red Wine

The recipes of the week, Chocolate Chicken Mole and Mexican Red Rice are full of bold and robust flavors and can stand up to a full bodied wine but Gary, our wine expert says to steer clear of any tannic red wines because the heat from the chipotle pepper and chili powder will likely make any tannic red wine unpleasantly spicy.

Instead try a lighter red wine with low tannins and higher acidity to cleanse the plate and cut some of the spiciness. A wine such as Capcanes Peraj Petita (that’s a GKC fav!), Ovadia Estates Morellino Di Scansano (Can’t wait to try that one), or Israel’s Domaine Netofa Red pair nicely with these dishes.

Walder’s Vanilla Vodka Mojito, aka Walderito

This is my new favorite cocktail. I have been gaga over mojitos for awhile now, but the addition of vanilla vodka takes the sensational to super sensational. Its especially good in the winter when the extra sweet warms you up and also in the summer when you want to be refreshed. Purim is a great time to try them and Wow your guests with the delicious lime treat.

Makes 4

1 cup Walder’s Vodka and Vanilla
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 limes, cut into quarter
10 mint leaves
Crushed ice

Put the mint leaves, lime quarters and brown sugar into a pitcher. Press with a wooden spoon to release juice from limes and mint leaves. Fill with crushed ice. Add Walder’s Vodka and Vanilla. Stir and serve with extra lime zest and mint leaves.

Psagot Edom

A fabulous blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. We tasted this at the Psagot winery two weeks ago, and all I can say is simply divine! Pairs well with chicken, meat, pasta, and even fish. Balanced, rich, flavorful and from Israel. We ordered a case of this and of the 2009 Cabernet. Don’t miss this wine at the KFWE next week and get some while they last!
Available at for $32.99

Hanukah Party Wines

Festive Hanukah parties require festive wine options. Many readers ask what to drink with latkes and doughnuts at a party as they possess characteristics that make them slightly difficult for wine pairings. Although people these days are learning that they should drink what they like, food & wine pairings exist because there is some rhyme to the reason.

Latkes are often fried and can be a bit oily. Oily dishes tend to be heavy, and the best solution here is a wine that provides some contrast. We recommend a chilled refreshing wine. High acid Sauvignon Blanc wines work well, as do sparkling wines.

Dougnuts on the other hand are generally sweet, and sweet foods can make dry wines taste bitter and unpleasant. So any wine with at least a little bit of sweetness (such as a Moscato or the Jeunesse wines) will work great with dougnuts.

If you are having an intimate affair, and don’t want more than 1 bottle, a wine worth checking out is the new Bartenura Moscato Rose sparkling wine. It is a sparkling wine with some sweetness and will definitely be a crowd pleaser.


Hanukah is not only a great time for wine drinking with family and friends but also a great time for wine as corporate or hostess gifts. GKC spoke to our best experts for their WINE GIFT SELECTIONS for 2011.

The first selection is a magnum (double sized bottle) of Capcanes Peraj Ha’abib. Some critics have called the Peraj Ha’abib the best kosher wine on the market and the magnum comes in a handsome wooden case perfect for gift giving (GKC votes this as our favorite wine this year).

Second, two special occasion wines from Israel are fantastic to drink and come in a gorgeous package are the Yatir Winery “Forest” and the Psagot Winery Cabernet Sauvignon. The Yatir bottle is adorned with a red wax seal while the Psagot has a replica ancient coin on its bottle.

A final suggestion is to ask your retailer for wines that come wrapped in tissue paper. One such wine is Herzog Winery’s “Special Edition” Chalk Hill Cabernet Sauvginon (remember this great suggestion and tasting at the KFWE?! We loved it then and would love to receive this as a gift.) which comes wrapped in an off-white tissue paper and sealed with a gold sticker.