When one goes out to dine at a kosher restaurant in today’s modern age, besides the traditional favorites like steak and chicken, one can find venison, buffalo, and a host of other exotic delights available as kosher.
The intrigued consumer can enjoy a meal fit for a king at many fine kosher restaurants today and yet oftentimes one of the most important elements of a meal, namely the wine, is overlooked. The right match between food and wine can elevate an average meal to the heights of culinary pleasure, when the food and wine are paired correctly. Yet, many are hesitant to ask for a restaurant’s wine list for a host of reasons, despite the incredible growth and availability of high-end kosher wines in recent years.
The current state of the kosher wine industry is thankfully miles ahead of where it was even a few years ago, and all the more so compared to 10 or 20 years ago.
In terms of selection, one can find a high-quality kosher wine from just about any of the world’s leading wine-producing regions. There are numerous brands to choose from, varying styles, and most kosher wines are priced competitively.
The old reasons for not buying high-end kosher wines, such as, “It doesn’t taste as good” or “It’s too expensive,” are now obsolete. The time is now ripe for all to begin exploring kosher wines from California, Israel, Spain, Italy, France, South Africa, Australia, and the other regions offering exciting and new brands.
While no one can predict the future, it is safe to say that fine, quality kosher wines are here to stay. Based on the explosive growth in the selection of kosher wines in recent years, one should expect to continue to see new wines being added to restaurant wine lists from new regions of the world for many years to come.
This means that restaurant-goers will have unprecedented opportunities to enhance their enjoyment of gourmet meals with some of the finest wines in the world. Consumers should not limit their dining experiences by avoiding the often intimidating wine lists that contain names that may be difficult to pronounce and which may reveal a consumer’s lack of wine knowledge. Nonetheless, one should keep in mind that most restaurants are understanding and are sensitive to this point and waiters will usually help consumers find the right wine for the right dish.
The following brief guide (which recommends wines found in most kosher restaurant wine lists) should help one select the right wine to enjoy with the right food.
The old adage that “white wine is for fish and red wine is for meat” is a simple way to guide one’s wine selections, though there are more detailed elements that are important to keep in mind as well. For instance, certain white wines such as Baron Herzog Sauvignon Blanc (pronounced saw-vin-YAWN blahnk) from California and Carmel Emerald Riesling-Chenin (pronounced REEZ-ling SHEH-nin) from Israel, display green apple and lemony flavors that are perfectly matched with similar flavors found in green salads and tangy appetizers. Also, these light, easy-drinking semi-dry wines exhibit a crisp acidity which pairs exceptionally well with the bright acidity of a freshly tossed salad that has been garnished with lemon juice or salad dressing.
There are a number of fine wines that are well suited to pair with one’s main course, depending on the heartiness and flavor of the desired food. For lightly flavored fish dishes, a dry, light bodied, creamy smooth white wine with apple and pear flavors such as Teal Lake Chardonnay (pronounced shar-duh-NAY) from Australia is a fine selection. For intensely marinated fish dishes and chicken dishes, a soft, semi-sweet red wine with raspberry and strawberry flavors such as Bartenura Malvasia (pronounced mahl-VAY-zee-ah) from Italy is a superb selection.
If one is planning to indulge in a succulent prime rib steak or other hearty beef, veal, or other dark meat dish, then there are a few outstanding wines that will surely please one’s taste buds. Verbau Merlot (pronounced ver-BAHW mer-LOW), produced in Bordeaux, France is an exceptional full-bodied wine that displays charming plum, mocha, and smoky flavors that pair quite well with most meat dishes. Barkan Classic Cabernet Sauvignon (pronounced bar-KAHN cab-er-NAY saw-vin-YAWN) from Israel displays tantalizing blackberry, cassis, and oak flavors, and pairs well with meat as well.
Last, but certainly not least, Herzog Special Reserve Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is the pinnacle of superior winemaking. Produced from some of the finest grapes grown in Sonoma County’s prestigious Alexander Valley region, this wine is truly reserved for the few devoted gourmands willing to invest a small fortune to experience the wonderful complexity, finesse and depth of flavor of this wine of unparalleled quality, which serves up layers of earthy currant, plum, wild berry, spice and cedar flavors. This wine’s long elegant aftertaste will linger in one’s mouth and will transform an ordinary dinner into an extraordinary one.