The High Holy Days season is one where the Jewish people take stock, look forward and move forward. We do tzuva, or repent. That word literally means “to return.” We return to ourselves in order to remove the blockages that hold us back from improving ourselves spiritually, becoming the people of which we are capable and aspire to become.
During this COVID-19 pandemic, forward momentum could not feel more welcome. Wine is an essential ingredient to Judaism and, if used judiciously, can help us achieve our goals deliciously.
In our sacred writings, we are taught that wine brings “joy to G-d and man” (Judges 9:13). Also, because wine was so important, it accompanied all sacrifices in the Temple. Moreover, because of its status in our religion as a tool with which we transform the ordinary into the holy, the rabbis wrote a special blessing recited especially for wine, the Hagafen blessing.
Wine brings “joy to man” because it relaxes those whom imbibe and lowers inhibitions and defenses. These reactions allow our souls to break free. Thus, enjoying a “l’chaim,” a toast, inspires us to find and capture our best selves if we drink in moderation. If we over imbibe, instead of finding good, we might find bad. Thus, although always a challenge, moderation is key.
I recently had a chance to attend a farewell party (socially distanced and masked). The party was arranged on short notice and no one thought to get wine for a crowd filled with wine lovers. I was able to obtain a case of Gilgal red and white wine from Israel at the last minute. The wines were fabulous and the party goers were surprised to learn that they were Israeli. And these wines transformed what was a sad occasion into both a reflective and festive one. We reflected on good times and then on possibilities for our friend who was leaving. In large part, wine made that possible.
The wines described above are produced by the famous Golan Heights Winery, the same winery that produces the world famous Yarden Wines. They were made under the supervision of winemaker Victor Schoenfeld.
The red wine, Gilgal, from the Upper Galilee, (not the Golan Heights despite the name of the winery) was a 50/50% blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from the 2016 vintage.
The white wine, also from Gilgal, was made with 100% Chardonnay grapes but sourced in the Golan Heights. It was also made under the supervision Victor Schoenfeld.
2018 Dalton Estate unoaked Chardonnay (Galilee)
This wine, reminiscent of the great French Chablis wines, has been one of my favorites for some time. It is sophisticated, yet easy to drink. And created with a non-interventionist approach, it is charming on a warm summer day.
Golan Heights Winery Yarden Rose
This now classic, kosher wine is again gracing our shelves. When I first saw this wine on our shelves, I kvelled about it in these pages. That review was picked up by the Golan Heights Winery and my review was published on their website, where it stayed for some time. Suffice to say that Yarden’s Rose, any vintage, reminds us of the best Provence and southern France embodies.
For those reading this, may this coming year be much sweeter than last year. Shana tova.
Andrew Zashin is a frequent CJN columnist and wine collector.