Yossi’s Wine Page

If it’s not good enough to drink …

There are two kinds of cooking wine. The wine you drink while you’re cooking and the wine that actually goes into what you’re cooking.

The advice “If it’s not good enough to drink it’s not good enough for cooking” obviously refers to the latter (since the former is drinking).

Some months ago a well-meaning guest brought a bottle of a recent vintage supermarket wine from a major winery, and of a series that I generally avoid. While I have found some quite respectable wines at the supermarket at very attractive prices, there are some I eschew, and this was one of them.

One day after work a couple of weeks ago, I decided to give it a try. All I can say is that it was quite vile. I had expected a shallow flat wine with no body or character, but this was bitter and undrinkable. Ever the optimist, and always curious, I stuck a vacuum stopper in the bottle and waited a couple of days. By this time much of the bitterness had dissipated, but the wine had already started to go sour.

Fast forward a couple of weeks to preparations for Shabbat dinner. Dina had bought short ribs, and wanting to prepare them in the slow cooker she asked me for some cooking wine. I told here there were a few open bottles in the pantry and to take whichever she wanted.

As luck would have it, Dina picked the aforementioned terrible wine.

Wonder of wonders, the short ribs were absolutely marvelous; I can’t remember having better.

Would the ribs have been even better cooked in a Kayoumi Shiraz? I suppose I’ll never know.

In the meantime, I, for one, have no problem cooking with wine that’s not good enough to drink. As long as I get to drink something else while I’m cooking.

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A couple of weeks ago, while much of the world was celebrating Christmas, the Netoafa Winery was throwing a kick-off event for members of the winery’s Netofamily Club.

It was a beautiful Friday morning, and when we arrived Yair (CEO) was already grilling some of his excellent homemade sausages in the winery’s courtyard.

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A Busy Weekend

Anyone reading this probably knows very well that the weekends leading up to Rosh HaShana (Jewish New Year) and Pesach (Passover) are laden with wine events. All the wineries want you to buy their wines for the holiday feasts, and many of them have tasting events to lure you in. The problem is that so many of the wineries have their events at the same time, making it impossible for us enthusiasts to attend them all.

I had a plan, and surprisingly I actually managed to stick more or less to it, fitting in eight events starting Thursday evening and ending Saturday night. My schedule wasn’t even too rushed, as it was my great fortune that many of the events were quite nearby. I even managed to get in a 10 km run on Friday morning! Unfortunately I missed the Chillag Rosh Hashana tasting (not nearby), so I’ll have to make up for that another time. Read more…

A Perfect Friday

Last Friday was definitely a fun day.

I woke up shortly past dawn and went out for a 10 km run. Ok, that wasn’t so much fun, but I feel good knowing I’m doing something good for my body. At least I hope it is. And I listen to terrific music while running (Traffic, Joe Bonamassa, Albert Cummings, Queen, The Who, The Doors … you get the idea), and that makes it a good bit more enjoyable. Also, I run in the fields of Binyamina, among the fruit orchards and the many many vineyards. The smell of the peaches is delightful, and the vines are developing quite nicely, thank you very much.

Dina had just gotten up by the time I returned and we had breakfast (omlettes with onions and cheese, and Swedish filter coffee) in the garden.

Then it was off to the Tulip Winery for the latest in their series of international wine tastings. This time it was wines from Greece. I must say that while I was quite intrigued I didn’t expect to be very impressed by the wines. I’m very happy to stay that I was completely wrong about that. Read more…

Salute 2015 Ra’anana – June 24-25

Now that the spate of pre and post Shavuot wine events, and the month long Bshvil Hayain (Wineland) festival in the north, are behind us, it’s time again for the annual wine festival in Park Ra’anana, which will take place this year on Wednesday and Thursday, June 24 & 25 at 18:30 – 23:00.Salute Ra'anana 2015 (24-25 Jun 15) - crop

As in the past, the festival will be held by the lake in the park, making for a very relaxed and laid back atmosphere. Read more…

Wineland (B’Shvil Hayain) Festival 2015 – May 12th – Jun 12th

The 2015 Wineland Festival of wineries in the Galilee, Golan, and Northern Valleys will run for a full month from May 12th – June 12th.

Buoyed by the success of last year’s Wineland Festival, the organizers have become yet more ambitious, and have planned even more activities this year. There are musical events, vineyard tours, winery visits, car trips, walks in the woods, guided tours around villages in the north, and of course the Wine Fair in Rosh Pina (more information here and on the English Facebook page).

To see what I mean, just click on the schedule below.Wineland 2015 - Calendar of Events - English

Read more…

Pre-Passover and Election Day Wine Events

You can always tell when the Passover holiday is approaching in Israel because there are loads of wine events, all at the same time, and this year is no exception. To see what’s going on, have a look at my calendar of wine events. Don’t even think about trying to attend all of these events – it’s just not possible. I will make a valiant attempt, at least for the events nearby, but I’ll still fall short.

And with election day (Tuesday March 18th) falling right during the run-up to Passover this year, many of the smaller wineries, Read more…

2nd Annual Festival of Wine & Plenty – March 25th & 26th, 2015

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Last year’s regional Festival of Wine & Plenty at Ramat Hanadiv was such a roaring success, that even before the dust settled, it became a foregone conclusion that we’d be holding it again this year.

So it gives me great pleasure to announce that the 2nd annual regional Festival of Wine & Plenty will be held at the Ramat Hanadiv park during the week before Pesach on March 25th & 26th 2015.

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For those who missed it, 23 (mostly) local wineries participated in the festival last year, along with local producers of cheese, olive oil, jams, and baked confections. There were also cooking demonstrations and wine workshops (for the hard core enthusiasts), and light dairy fare was provided by Ramat Hanadiv’s Mataim restaurant.  Live instrumental jazz enhanced the relaxed atmosphere.

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Well, this year there will be more of everything.

More wineries, more food, more workshops, and the cooking demos will be held in a more central, more accessible, location. There will also be more places to buy tickets in advance; online ticket sales should work more smoothly and there will be no fees.

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After last year’s festival the feedback was more than encouraging, with the overwhelming majority telling us what a wonderful time they had. We promised them all that this year would be even better, and we fully intend to keep that promise.

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Check the event page regularly as I will be posting more information as it becomes available.

Negev “First Harvest” Olive Oil Festival – Dec 4-6, 2014

In the wake of the 20th annual Olive Days festival in the North, comes the First (annual?) First Harvest Olive Oil Festival in the Negev.

Here’s a reasonably accurate translation of the official Festival announcement:

For the first time this year, the Olive Board of the Plants Production and Marketing Board, in cooperation with the Shikma – Bsor Tourism Association, will hold an Israeli Olive Oil Festival in the Negev, as part of the First Harvest celebrations. The festival will include musical performances, and selected restaurants will be serving special dishes using olive oils of the region. In addition, there will be agricultural tours to farms in the area.

The First Harvest Festival was inspired by the fact that then Negev has become a significant source of quality Israeli olive oil. The pioneering work of Professor Shimon Lavie and his team has resulted in the ability to grow olive trees in arid regions using drip irrigation, leading to a viable olive oil industry in the Negev. The festival also salutes the efforts of the olive farmers in the Negev, particularly in light of the difficult security situation they had to endure this past summer.

First Harvest olive oil is the virgin oil from the first fruits. Having just been pressed, the oil is extremely fresh. Unfiltered and unrefined, this oil retains its fresh aroma and intense flavors of the young olive fruit.

Olive Board director, Dr. Adi Na’ali says: “We decided to celebrate, for the first time this year, an olive oil festival in the Negev so as to recognize the efforts and accomplishments of the olive farmers in the Negev, who have accomplished wonders despite challenging climatic conditions, and also to identify with them in the wake of the difficult security situation they had to deal with during the summer. We invite the masses of Israel come and taste fresh, healthy oil, and join in our celebrations.”

The First Harvest Festival, which will be part of the Warm Winter events sponsored by the Ministry of Negev and Galilee Development, the Ministry of Tourism, and the Ministry of Culture and Sports, will run from Thursday December 4th through Saturday December 6th.

Festival schedule:

Thursday, December 4th at 21:00

  • Jazz performance at the Artichoke restaurant in Mosha Gea
  • Spanish-Latin performance at the Sines restaurant in the Sha’ar Hanegev industrial zone

The restaurants will serve special dishes based on olive oil from the area.

Friday, December 5th at 09:00- 15:00

First Harvest celebrations at the olive press in Moshav Yoshivia. The event will include:

  • Olive oil tastings
  • Lectures about olive oil and olive oil quality
  • Musical performance
  • Farmer’s market
  • Olive press tours and demonstrations
  • Sale of olive oil and olive oil products (cosmetics, etc.)
  • Fair of local products

Saturday, December 6th

  • Tze’ela Dairy Farm – Greek performance and tastings of cheese and olive oil
  • Mavoch Miriam in Moshav Nir Moshe – Guided tours and “chef-actor” performance
  • 20:00 – Musical by the singer Fernando at the Mides restaurant in Moshav Beror Hayil. The restaurant will be serving special dishes based on olive oils of the region.

Details of all events can be found at: http://www.habsor.co.il/olive and at the Olive Board website.

For further information, call or email:

Moshe Inbar
(054) 525-2180
moshe.i@together-ltd.co.il

Li-Or Avnon
(050) 211-1008
li-or.a@together-ltd.co.il

Grape Man’s Boutique Wineries Open House

On Friday Nov 14, The Grape Man is holding an open house featuring wines from boutique wineries that produce up to 25,000 bottles annually.

בית פתוח יקבי בוטיק

Here’s is a free translation of The Grape Man’s event announcement.

Does size really matter, or is that just a myth? Read more…

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