Rosh Hashanah & a Hadju Grenache

The Jewish High Holy Days started last Sunday night with Rosh Hashanah, so there was none of my normal Sunday night cookie baking. Instead, I spent a couple of hours at synagogue. Monday, instead of heading to work, I was at synagogue again for most of the day. With the craziness of life right now, I didn’t plan a special dinner for the New Year. Instead, because Hubby works from home on Mondays and fall weather has finally arrived in DC, we decided that the best way to celebrate the New Year was with some hearty, slowcooker chili. And, of course, a kosher red wine!

2014 Hadju Winery Grenache – At $50, this kosher California red wine is a little pricey, but nice choice for a special occasion.  It’s an easy-to-drink, crowd pleaser that goes nicely with a holiday meal or can stand on its own with good company and conversation. Rating: 4 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2014 Hadju Winery Grenache

The 2014 Hadju Winery Grenache (winery) was a red wine from California. The wine was a dark ruby color. On the nose, there were cherries and strawberries mixed with hints of dried roses, leather, and baking spices. In the mouth, there were cherries, strawberries and cream, and leather with hints of baking spices and cedar. The wine had a medium body, tannins, and acid.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At $50 a bottle, this wine is a little on the expensive side and definitely for special occasions. However, it’s worth opening during that holiday dinner because it’s a wine that can please almost every wine lover. The key, though, is giving it time to breathe. When I first opened and tasted it, I was surprised by the alcohol coming from the wine…there was just too much heat and it overpowered everything else. After using my aerator and giving the wine a little time to open up, though, it was beautiful. In fact, I really enjoyed the wine on Tuesday night, too. So, don’t be afraid to drink this wine over two nights.

The Grenache made for a good pairing with the chili, as the spices Hubby used to flavor the chili blended nicely with the baking spice flavors in the wine. My biggest concern was that the wine would accentuate the fieriness of the chili, but once the alcohol in the wine calmed down a bit, they actually complimented each other nicely.  All in all, it was a good choice and a wine I will likely order again for one of the Jewish holidays.

Question of the Day:  Has the weather by you started to change?  Have you switched wine and beer choices to match the fall weather?  If so, what are you drinking?

To everyone who is celebrating, may you and yours
have a sweet, healthy, and happy 5777!
L’ Shana Tovah!

Price: $50
Purchased at Hadju Winery
Overall: 4 Corks

Delicious Deccolio

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Deccolio Prosecco – At $14, this kosher sparkling wine from Italy is simple, food-friendly, and refreshing. It’s worth checking out, even if you’re not looking for a kosher wine. Rating 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

Deccolio Prosecco – At $14, this kosher sparkling wine from Italy is simple, food-friendly, and refreshing. It’s worth checking out, even if you’re not looking for a kosher wine. Rating 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

Several months ago, I mentioned on Twitter that I was having difficulty finding a kosher sparkling wine that was drinkable, much less enjoyable. Kosher Wine Review recommended the Deccolio Prosecco, and I’m so glad I took the suggestion. I’m a big believer that sparkling wine can be opened any day of the week, so not needing an excuse, I decided to open a bottle one night after work.

The Deccolio Prosecco (winery) is from Italy. The wine was a light golden yellow with a lot of good bubbles. On the nose, there were Granny Smith apples, oranges, and hints of white flowers. In the mouth, there were Granny Smith apples, citrus fruits—oranges and lemons—and a hint of flowers and honey. The bubbly had light-to-medium body and bright acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At $14, this dry sparkling wine is exactly what I want in an everyday bottle of bubbly, and I recommend it even if you’re not looking for a kosher wine. It’s simple, food-friendly, and refreshing. My one word of caution is that it is very drinkable. I got so carried away with catching up with Hubby about my day, enjoying dinner, and then relaxing in the evening that before I knew it, I was several glasses in on a work night. Ooops!

Question of the Day: Will you open up a sparkling wine any day of the week or is it a special occasion type of wine for you?

Price: $14
Purchased at Whole Foods Market
Overall: 4 Corks

The Tribe Chardonnay with My Wine Tribe

2013 The Tribe by Covenant Wines – At $35, this kosher white wine from Lodi, California is a bit expensive on the quality-price ratio scale. It’s a good, enjoyable wine that was delicious with goat cheese, but it’s an “everyday wine” at not-so-every day pricing. Rating 3.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 The Tribe by Covenant Wines – At $35, this kosher white wine from Lodi, California is a bit expensive on the quality-price ratio scale. It’s a good, enjoyable wine that was delicious with goat cheese, but it’s an “everyday wine” at not-so-every day pricing. Rating 3.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

My setup for July's Blogger HangoutI’ve mentioned before that at the 2014 Wine Bloggers’ Conference in Santa Barbara, I became friends with the several amazing women that make up my “wine tribe” (Alison from Bon Vivant, Ann from Oddball Grape, Becca from The Gourmez, Krista from Upkeep: Wine, Body, and Soul, and Lisa from Wine with Lisa). The two “Allisons/Alisons” live in DC, which means we get to see each other occasionally, but the rest of the group is spread out all over the United States and Canada. Our geographical diversity means we all bring very different perspectives to the conversation, although it also means that almost all of our face-to-face time is done over the Internet rather than in person. It’s one of the many exciting things about this year’s Wine Bloggers’ Conference (WBC16) in Lodi…I’ll have a chance to see Alison, Becca, and Lisa in person!

In preparation for WBC16, we grabbed some Lodi Chardonnay to pair with our monthly discussion about blogging. Check out Becca’s recap, which not only covers our some thoughts on the different wines we each opened, but also includes great photos from previous Wine Bloggers’ Conferences and her pre-conference thoughts about WBC16.

2013 The Tribe Chardonnay

2013 The Tribe Chardonnay

My 2013 The Tribe by Covenant Wines (winery, snooth) was a kosher wine made from 100% Chardonnay grapes and using a new flash-dente technique that allows the winery to flash-heat the grapes straight out of the vineyard, rather than heating the wine to make it kosher (read this post for more information on what makes a wine kosher). The wine was a medium lemon yellow. On the nose, there were pineapples and Granny Smith apples. In the mouth, there were pineapples, pears, and cream mixed with the taste of a chewed Popsicle stick.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine/beer in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At $34, this wine is a bit expensive on the quality-price ratio, even for a kosher white wine. Don’t get me wrong…it’s a good, enjoyable wine that was delicious with goat cheese, but it’s an “everyday wine” at not-so-every day pricing.

The Tribe CorkOn a fun note, after Krista and Becca mentioned that they had cinnamon characteristics in their Lodi Chardonnay, I detected a hint in mine. However, I have to be honest and say that I’m not really sure if that was power of suggestion or if it was really there. I’ll be on the lookout for cinnamon notes in the Chardonnays while I’m in Lodi this week!

Question of the Day: How do you like your Chardonnay…crisp and aged in stainless steel, a plush oak-and-butter monster, or slightly oaked and somewhere in-between?

Price: $35
Purchased at Schneider’s of Capitol Hill
Overall: 3.5 Corks

Loving LaTour

2011 LaTour Netofa Red – At $35 a bottle, this red wine from Israel is versatile kosher wine that offers a lot in a single glass. It can be used to accompany a holiday meal or just enjoyed on its own while talking the night away. Give it time to breath, and you won’t be disappointed. Rating 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2011 LaTour Netofa Red – At $35 a bottle, this red wine from Israel is versatile kosher wine that offers a lot in a single glass. It can be used to accompany a holiday meal or just enjoyed on its own while talking the night away. Give it time to breath, and you won’t be disappointed. Rating 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

While I don’t keep kosher throughout the year, during the 8 days of the Jewish High Holidays, I’m careful about the food I eat. There’s no bacon or pork chops, no cheeseburgers…and my wine is almost exclusively kosher. I was particularly excited about opening the 2011 LaTour Netofa Red this year because two blogs I trust–Yossie’s Corkboard and Kosher Wine Musings— had great things to say about it. And, what better way to celebrate the start of the Jewish New Year than with a wine that I had high expectations for?  So, after I came home from synagogue on the first night of Rosh Hashanah, I opened the LaTour while Hubby started dinner.

2011 LaTour Netofa Red

2011 LaTour Netofa Red

The 2011 LaTour Netofa Red (winery, snooth) was made in the Galilee region of Israel and is a blend of Mourvèdre and Syrah. It was a dark ruby color with a touch of garnet on the rim. The nose was big, with blueberries, blackberries, nutmeg and hints of tea leaves, black pepper, and dried roses. In the mouth, there were blackberries, dark plums, and hints of blueberries, black tea, and dark chocolate. The wine was full-bodied with big tannins and acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At $35 a bottle, this wine offers a lot in a single glass. It definitely needs to time to breath, so either decant it before drinking it or use an aerator when pouring. As long as you do that, it’s a wine you can sit and puzzle over, pair with a delicious holiday meal, and enjoy while talking the night away. It’s versatile and worth checking out, even if you aren’t looking for a kosher wine.

Question of the Day:  Do you have recommendations for a great red wine that is under $30?  My hunt for the elusive inexpensive kosher red is still on!

Price: $35
Purchased at Kosherwine.com
Overall: 4.5 Corks

Sunday Baking: A Kosher Cab & Hamentaschen

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Purim, like many Jewish holidays, it celebrates how the villain’s plot to destroy the Jewish people was foiled.  The Jews are saved, and the villain is vanquished.  The holiday takes place before Passover, and it’s very festive.  In fact, there is usually a carnival-like celebration that includes plays and costumes, and Jews are supposed to drink so much on Purim that they can’t tell the difference between the cursed Haman and the blessed Mordecai, although how much alcohol that actually is remains unclear.  And, of course, there are cookies called hamentaschen!

While I didn’t make it to a Purim carnival this year, I did make poppy seed-filled hamentaschen.  Hubby had never had them before, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take my cookie baking skills up a notch.   Admittedly, they weren’t the prettiest cookies I’ve made, but they were recognizably hamentaschen.

2010 Gamla Cabernet Sauvignon &  Hamentaschen --  At $17, this red wine from Israel is a good everyday Cab.  It needs a little time to breathe when you open it, but would pair pair nicely with a heavier dish like pasta and truffle sauce or beef ribs.  Rating 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2010 Gamla Cabernet Sauvignon

To go with the baking fun, I opened a 2010 Gamla Cabernet Sauvignon (winery, snooth).  The wine is made in the Galilee region of Israel with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.  It was a very dark purple with a hint of ruby on the rim.  On the nose, there were currants, blackberries, and dark cherries with a hint of nutmeg, black pepper, and vanilla.  In the mouth, there were dark fruits mixed with nutmeg and hints of vanilla, cocoa powder, and black pepper.  The wine had a full-body, good acidity, and strong tannins.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine/beer in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.  At $17, this wine is a good everyday Cab, although it needs a little time to breathe to help take away some of the sharpness.  Finding a good kosher red wine under $20 continues to be challenge for me,so I was pleased to find this one.  It was enjoyable on its own, and I imagine it would pair nicely with a heavier dish like pasta and truffle sauce or beef ribs.  This wine also has a little bit of aging potential, so if you have the space, it may be worth buying a bottle to drink now, as well as a second bottle to enjoy in two or three years.

The cookies ended up being a big hit at work, particularly with my coworkers who had never tried hamentaschen before, but they were not such a hit at home.  Hubby ate one, said he was glad he tried it, and left the rest for me to take to work.  I thought they turned out well, and the poppy seed filling was a good match for the Gamla Cabernet.  All in all, it wasn’t the best pairing I’ve done, but it wasn’t the worst one either.

Question of the Day: Have you had a kosher red wine that you’ve enjoyed lately? (I’d love to hear your recommendations!)

Hamantaschen with Poppy Seed Filling
(*adapted from Rose Levy Beranabum’s recipe in The Baking Bible)

Ingredients for Poppy Seed Filling

  • 3/4 cup poppy seed
  • 1/1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon and 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 Tablespoons apricot jam

Directions for Poppy Seed Filling

  • In a spice mill or blender, grind the poppy seeds. They will fluff to about 1 cup.
  • In a small saucepan, heat the milk
  • Add the poppy seeds, stirring until milk is absorbed (a few seconds).
  • Remove the pan from the heat and add sugar, honey, lemon zest, and 1 Tablespoon jam.
  • Cool at room temperature.

Ingredients for Egg Glaze

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons milk

Directions for Egg Glaze

  • In small bowl, whisk yolk and milk.
  • Strain the mixture into another small bowl, pushing it through the strainer with the back of a spoon.
  • Discard the thicker part that does not pass through.

Ingredients for Dough

  • 1 stick butter, cold
  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Hamentaschen and wine corkDirections for Cookies

  • In medium bowl, mix together flour and salt. Set aside.
  • In small bowl, mix together egg yolk, heavy cream, and vanilla. Set aside
  • Grind sugar in food processor until fine,
  • Cube the cold butter.
  • Add to food processor and pulse until sugar disappears.
  • Add flour mixture and pulse until the butter is no larger than small peas.
  • Add egg-cream-vanilla mixture and pulse until just incorporated, about 8 times. Dough should be crumbly pieces.
  • Place dough in plastic bag or on large sheet of plastic wrap and press until it holds together.
  • Knead a few times until it becomes one smooth piece and ensure there is no visible pieces of butter.
  • Press into ball.
  • Divide dough in half and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
  • Remove dough from refrigerator and let sit for 5 minutes or until you can roll it without cracking the dough.
  • Using floured rolling pin on a floured surface, roll dough into 1/2 inch thick rectangle.
  • Cut out 3-inch discs of dough
  • Place cookies on lined, chilled cookie sheets. Keep cookies about 2 inches apart.
  • Brush outer 1/2 inch of dish with thin coating of egg glaze (it’s not necessary to cover all the dough).
  • Place 1-2 teaspoons of poppy seed filling into the center of disc
  • Fold disc into triangle (Tori Avey has easy to follow directions on how to fold properly).
  • Brush outside of dough with thin coating of egg glaze for shine.
  • Once formed, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to help hold shape when baking.
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350F.
  • Bake for 6-8 minutes; rotate cookie sheet; bake for another 6-8 minutes or until lightly browned.
  • Let cookies set on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

Price: $17
Purchased at Kosherwine.com
Overall: 4 Corks