The Jewish Chronicle - - Life/food -

THE CHAGIM are over, win­ter is not here yet and Chanu­cah and the new year are still only a faint glim­mer on the hori­zon, so no style of wine au­to­mat­i­cally sug­gests it­self. What bet­ter time to dis­cuss kosher sparkling wines?

To be hon­est, I am not a big fan of cham­pagne and other sparklers at fes­tive meals. If some­one has gone to the trou­ble of pre­par­ing a multi-course feast, one should try to find a wine that will com­ple­ment the food, whereas cham­pagne and its cousins al­ways seem to up­stage it. For me, the pop of the big cork is al­ways an event in it­self, an op­ti­mistic rit­ual in the mid­dle of our grey hum­drum ex­is­tence, some­thing for birthdays and other cel­e­bra­tions.

There is a prob­lem with writ­ing about kosher cham­pagne. The half-dozen houses bot­tling kosher edi­tions of their bub­bly tend to is­sue bot­tles of widely vary­ing qual­ity which are very hard to track over the years.

Add to that the kosher mark-up that means that they cost the same as wildly su­pe­rior nonkosher cham­pagnes, and you un­der­stand why I am re­luc­tant to rec­om­mend them. There are a few kosher cavas and pros­ec­cos from Spain and Italy but none of them par­tic­u­larly wor­thy of men­tion.

In the past, Is­rael of­fered two “cham­pagne-style” sparklers. The Carmel Pres­i­dent Wine, which re­sem­bled lemon-flavoured mouth­wash, and the su­perla­tive Golan Heights Yar­den Blanc de Blancs, which can hold its head high in the com­pany of the French orig­i­nals but is pro­hib­i­tively ex­pen­sive.

Now both th­ese winer­ies have re­leased mid-mar­ket bub­blies, both en­tirely sat­is­fy­ing within the £20 mark. The Carmel Pri­vate Col­lec­tion Brut NV is a cava-style wine, lively and fruity and will ap­peal to those who don’t drink reg­u­larly. The Golan Heights Gamla Brut NV is drier and slightly more com­plex with a clean, cit­rusy flavour and a sharp and dry fin­ish.

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