KFWE15: Wines Review

Many thanks to to Vicki Garfinkel  of VICKIGJ PR for the opportunity to attend KFWE. For inquiries, please contact her at vickigj@gmail.com All opinions and recommendations expressed in this post are my own and are unsolicited. For the entire photoset of my experience at KFWE, please click here

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Confession time: I very rarely drink, and never more than a sip or two at a time.  My husband calls me a cheap date. I call myself  a light-weight. The last time I drank anything was at last year’s KFWE. So you’re probably wondering what someone like me knows about wine. Apparently I know more than I thought I did, and most importantly I rediscovered what I like. I thought very well of myself for buying my case of red and case of white for cooking every year. I cook with wine – I can count on one hand dishes I’ve made recently that don’t have wine in them.  I told myself that it was better to leave the tasting and posturing to people who knew about that sort of thing, who cared about terroir, aeration and oak barrels.

Every year right after Purim, I’d go into the wine store, and ask for a case of dry red and a case of dry white for cooking. No, not the cheapest ones!  My philosophy is that if I won’t drink it, I won’t put it into my food.  But if it is going into food, it doesn’t have to be top shelf either.  Almost a year ago, I purchased a case each of the 2010 Weinstock Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2010 Weinstock Chardonnay. I asked the clerk at the shop and this is what he recommended. And for what I use it for, it does exactly what I need it to. At the time, it was about $10 a bottle, and that was what I was willing to spend to cook with. I have no trouble at all using a half- bottle of Chardonnay in my Shabbat chicken soup. ( I make 8-10 qts at a time) and a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon for marinating a French roast is not unheard of in my house.

I even use liquors and spirits for my chocolate making – rum or whisky for boozy cherries, coffee liqueur for candied pecans, amaretto in chocolate mousse, cognac for soaking candied and dried fruit.  But I prided myself on knowing exactly what I wanted and for what. Til this year, my knowledge was utilitarian at best and deliberately ignorant at worst.

This is the year I stepped out of my comfort zone and discovered a whole new world of wines and liquors. And I can say now that I truly know what I like, why I didn’t truly appreciate what I had tried til now, and I can confidently say that I can never look at wine and liquor the same way again. Will I become a wine snob? I don’t think so, but I know what I really like, and how to put it with what I cook with, and that for me a rather fine start of it.

Let’s begin with the wines.

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My favorites, hands down, were both by Domaines Rollan de By.  The 2012 Domaines Rollan de By and the 2010 Tour Seran were..what can I say? I want them. I could have quietly taken a bottle of the Rollan de By and found a quiet corner and would have been very happy.  The Tour Seran prompted me to whisper something in the pourer’s ear that had us both giggling – it was that good. After I tasted that, I wanted nothing more than a large, mid rare steak and that bottle.  Neither wine was too dry, or too fruity-sweet. They started a little sweet and by the time you swallowed it mellowed to a nice dryness. The Rollan de By is sweeter and more fun, in my opinion. The Tour Seran has some serious seduction power- rich and intoxicating.

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Another wine I really enjoyed was the EL 26 – a Spanish wine that I would want to share with my girlfriends at an all-ladies dinner. Nothing too heavy – thinly sliced steak and grilled vegetables over penne – and with this wine it would make it a meal to remember.

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I surprised myself! For YEARS I thought sherry was simply awful. Seriously, I didn’t like it at all – so dry and lacking in flavor. Tio Pepe changed that for me.  The Extra Dry Light Sherry for me is now something I have to buy.  This makes me want to buy a whole Nile Perch filet and oven-roast it. Mix a little of this with some parsley, shallots, fresh tarragon and olive oil and I don’t think you need anything else. Maybe a few slices of  roasted bell peppers on the side.

In terms of champagne, hands down, no question the Laurent Perrier Rose Champagne. You ever hear of people swooning? That was me, after a sip of this. To me, this is perfect – you don’t need food! Or maybe you could go fancy with raspberries in the glass. Myself, I’ll take the bottle, thanks. A clear, cool night, my husband, and this bottle. To me, that is the ideal way to drink this.

So why didn’t I like what I had tasted til now? Why was it that even the wines I buy for cooking seem didn’t make me want to smile and swoon? For so long, I relied on what other people said was good. I didn’t trust my wine palate. I thought if everyone whose opinion I trusted liked a particular type, or if a wine had a certain price tag or label, by definition it had to be good. Allow me to stand corrected.  I’ve a new philosophy on wine now.  To me, it’s forget what the rest of the world says is so wonderful and focus on what you like. What do you want to experience when you drink? Do you want something super sweet, or something more acidic? Something that is light and fun or more serious and sophisticated? The traditional way to pair wine is red with red (red wine with red flesh, like meat, lamb and dark cuts of poultry) and white to white( like fish, veal, and white meat poultry)  This is the classic way of pairing and a good way to start off if you are like me and know little about wine.

As a result, I will in future be attempting to pair what I create for the blog with a wine I either use to cook the dish, or what I would serve with it. All the wines mentioned here are available for purchase at www.kosherwine.com