November 24, 2011 1 Comment
I’ve been a relatively temperate wine aficionado for several years, but only developed the taste after starting to keep kosher. I initially liked the sweeter wines – like Baron Herzog’s white zinfandel (whose label boasts “hints of cotton candy”) or the assorted moscato d’astis (closer to a wine cooler than they are to champagne). Eventually I graduated up to a more complex palate (i.e. wine that is good with dinner rather than dessert), and have preferred a nice dry red wine (preferably pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, or tempranillo varietals or blends) over the alternatives.
For a few years, there was a small not-quite-synagogue-based wine club – we jokingly styled ourselves the “Georgetown society for the promotion of inebriation” and would have blind tastings. The person who could identify the most wines was the winner, who received the acclaim of the rest and then had to host the next tasting. Oodles of fun, but eventually things changed – Sarah stopped drinking alcohol, so these events got a lot less pleasant for her, and some of the regulars moved away, so the whole thing basically petered out.
So I’ve settled down into a nice comfy rhythm involving inexpensive table wines. But then a friend of mine who was a wine guy from before he kept kosher told me that he was on a quest for a non-mevushal Bordeaux. I had encountered plenty of mevushal ones, and they were pretty good to my uncultured palate, but his opinion was that the heating process wrecked the delicate balance of the flavors, rendering those wines more disappointing than not.
So this piqued my curiosity, and I set about looking for non-mevushal Bordeaux wines, and I found a few. Most were out of my price range by a factor of 2-3, but one happened to be below $20: the Château La Chèze 2002 was around $19, so I got a few bottles. I now see what this friend was talking about: this Bordeaux is vastly more complex and delicate than the mevushal varieties that I’ve tried, and it was an absolute delight. I don’t have an educated enough palate to even know what all of the words the wine people use mean, but this seemed to change flavor both between sips, and also while it was on my tongue. If a good pinot noir were Newtonian physics, then this is quantum electrodynamics.
I suspect that more of this will be in my future.
*Eruvin 65a – “wine comes in, and a secret departs”