#18 KOSHER WINES, MEZCAL COCKTAILS, QUADY @ 45, BOXED PINOT, ‘FEST BEERS … AND DIVERSIONS

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins at sundown on Sept. 19. It’s Hebrew Year 5781. And plenty of kosher wine will be uncorked.

There now are countless kosher wines to celebrate the Jewish holidays, from countries including Israel, France, Italy, Chile, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and the United States.

Start with a glass of Champagne Drappier Brut Nature (★★★ $59.99), a crisp, slightly minerally blanc de noirs sparkler. There are tart notes of citrus and some red fruit. The French bubbly is “zero dosage,” meaning that the small amount sweet wine or brandy that’s often part of the traditional Champagne method isn’t added. There’s only the wine’s residual sugar.

From Israel comes the 2016 Tabor Revadim Vineyard Marselan (★★ $39.99). Marselan is a hybrid variety of grape, with cabernet sauvignon and grenache noir. The single-vineyard red uncorks dry, hearty, and flavorful, with suggestions of spice, licorice, and berries.

Also coming from the Judean Hills in Israel is the 2019 Flam Camellia (★★ 44.99), a citrusy, floral white wine named for the matriarch of the Flam family. It’s primarily chardonnay, with some sauvignon blanc, balanced and versatile.

A satisfying, full-bodied, American choice: the 2019 Herzog Variations Be-leaf Cabernet Sauvignon (★ $24.99) from Paso Robles, food-friendly, with hints of blueberry.

CLEAR AND COOL

IZO (★★ $64.99) earns its capital letters. Here’s a stirring Mezcal Joven, recommended both as a sipper and in cocktails. The smoky, silky distilled beverage starts with wild agave, from Durango, Mexico.

It’s the star in a spin on the Margarita, dubbed the Margarizo. Halve a lime and reserve a slice for garnish. Salt the rim of a small, ice-filled glass and add more ice to a shaker. Fill the shaker with the fresh-squeezed lime juice, two ounces of the Mezcal, and one-quarter ounce of triple sec. Shake and strain it into the glass and accent it with that lime slice.

The IZO Good cocktail brings together one-and-one half ounces of the Mezcal, one-half ounce of passion fruit puree, three quarters of an ounce of agave syrup, and one-half ounce of fresh lemon juice to a shaker. Then shake and strain over ice.

You’ll think summer goes beyond Sept. 22.

A SWEET ANNIVERSARY

Andrew and Laurel Quady’s first harvest took place in 1975, Forty-five years later, you’ll enjoy the full repertoire, highlighted by delightful, fortified sweet wines.

Join the party with Essensia (★★★ $22.99 750ml; $14.99, 375ml), a treat that arrived in 1981. It’s gilded in hue and vibrant in flavor, especially with zesty orange, plus apricot and pear. The orange muscat wine is deftly balanced, with ideal acidity and fortified to 15 percent alcohol.

Elysium (★★★ $22.99 750ml; $14.99, 375ml) followed Essensia by two years. The black muscat wine is loaded with strawberry and cherry. Spirits also are added and the result rivals Essensia.

Among other Quady selections: Deviation, an orange muscat wine infused with sweetly scented rose geranium and damiana; Electra Moscato Rose, Red Electra Moscato, and Electra Moscato, which are blends; Starboard, Port-style wine; and Vya Sweet Vermouth.

Quady has a five-year plan underway to yield 300,000 cases. The 50th anniversary should be fun. quadywinery.com

BOXED AND READY

Sokol Blosser Winery has been a notable Oregon producer since 1971. The family winery is known for its aromatic and rich pinot noir.

Now, you also can have a taste of pinot noir from this producer from a recyclable box instead of a bottle . Boxed wines have been growing in the United States.

Sokol Blosser’s fruity, round, accessible, reliable, and moderately priced 2019 Evolution Pinot Noir (★★ $28 for 1.5-liter box) from Willamette Valley will last for 30 days after opening. But you’ll finish it faster.

Figure the same for the 2019 Evolution Lucky No. 9 White Blend (★★ $21 for 1.5-liter box), which delivers citrus and tropical fruit notes in a nine-grape union that includes chardonnay and pinot gris.

VIRTUAL OKTOBERFEST

Oktoberfest, which typically pairs 6-to-7 million visitors with 7.9 million liters of beer, was slated to begin on Sept. 19.

But the ultimate beer festival in central Munich was cancelled earlier this year because of COVID-19. The event also was cancelled in 1854 due to outbreaks of cholera in Europe.

Still, you can enjoy Oktoberfest beers and food associated with the event, which commenced in 1810 to honor the marriage of Prince Ludwig, later King Ludwig I, to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen.

Oktoberfest used to go from Oct. 12, the wedding day, to Oct. 17. But the festivals became longer over the years. And, in part because of warmer weather, it became a September showcase.

Oktoberfest beer, or Marzen, which originated in Bavaria, is heady with toasted malts and mild with hop bitterness. Traditionally brewed in March, it was named Marzen. The brew would age through the summer. Stronger versions have generally given way to a lighter beer. The alcohol level is 5 to 6 percent.

Top Oktoberfest beers are headed by the smooth and evocative Paulaner Marzen, Hacker-Pschorr Original Oktoberfest, Spaten Oktoberfest Ur Marzen, Ayinger Oktober Fest-Marzen, Augustiner Brau Oktoberfestbier, Hofbrau Oktoberfestbier, and Lowenbrau.

If you’d like an American ‘fest beer, try Samuel Adams Octoberfest, Left Hand Brewing Company Oktoberfest, Brooklyn Oktoberfest, and Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest.

‘FEST EATING

Virtual Oktoberfest requires real food.

Bratwurst and pork schnitzel; schweinebraten, or roast pork; spit-roasted chicken; potato dumplings and potato pancakes; German potato salad; and Black Forest cake often highlight the menu.

And soft, Bavarian-style pretzels are essential. Get yours from Eastern Standard Provisions Co. Heat and eat. Or freeze to keep them for another day.

The styles include Topknot Signature XL ($15.99 four pack), Wheelhouse ($17.99 six pack), Turnbuckle Pretzel Sticks ($14.99 twelve pack) . SlidePiece Slider Buns ($12.99 twelve pack), and Pretzel Bites $15.99 two bags).

The “Oktoberfest Box” gift sampler, available as of Sept. 12, is $29.99.

You also may choose from sauces, salts, and sugars. esprovisions.com

DIVERSIONS

You may be ready to battle the anxiety of 2020 in a different way. Here are a few movies to nudge you in another direction.

“Airplane!” (1980) – David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, and Jim Abrahams’ spoof of disaster films, particularly the airborne variety, holds up 40 years later. Don’t resist. Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty play the central characters. But the movie belongs, in no special order, to Leslie Nielsen, Peter Graves, Robert Stack, Lloyd Bridges, Barbara Billingsley, and, yes, Ethel Merman.

“Before Sunrise’ (1995) – Richard Linklater’s charmer about a young man and a young woman who meet on a train and spend the night talking and wandering around Vienna instead of rushing to their next, appointed stops. What would you have done? Effortless acting by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. Reel along with the first film in a trilogy. It was followed by “Before Sunset” (2004) and “Before Midnight” (2013).

“Clueless” (1995) – Director and writer Amy Heckerling’s clever comedy, inspired by Jane Austen’s “Emma.” The setting now is Beverly Hills. It’s a coming-of-age story far from 1815. In some ways. With Alicia Silverstone’s star turn, backed by Stacey Dash, Paul Rudd, Brittany Murphy, Wallace Shawn, and Dan Hedaya.

“Get Shorty” (1995) – Barry Sonnenfeld’s sharp, darkly funny adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel. A Miami loan shark who loves movies goes to Hollywood with just the right results. Crackling dialogue and a dynamite cast that revels in it. Enjoy John Travolta, Gene Hackman, Danny DeVito, Rene Russo, Bette Midler, James Gandolfini, and scene-stealing Dennis Farina.

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” (2014) – Wes Anderson’s instant classic, unfolding in the 1930s at a high-style ski resort in a fictional land and via Stefan Zweig’s inspired imagination. The concierge is brilliantly played by Ralph Fiennes, with stellar support from F. Murray Abraham, Saoirse Ronan, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Edward Norton, and Harvey Keitel. A memorable, wickedly witty screenplay.

“The Princess Bride” (1987) – Rob Reiner’s romance, comedy, adventure, satire, fantasy, all around the theme of true love and reuniting.  Adapted by William Goldman from his irresistible novel. There’s this farm boy and this princess … why spoil the rest? Starring Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Peter Falk, Chris Sarandon, Wallace Shawn, Andre the Giant, Carol Kane, and standouts Billy Crystal and Peter Cook.

“Tropic Thunder” (2008) – Director, actor, and co-writer Ben Stiller’s pointed, gloriously tasteless satire targeting egos, actors, directors, studio chiefs, and more as an over-budget Vietnam war movie goes, well, awry. You may never see either the great “Apocalypse Now” or the far less-than-that “I Am Sam,” again without a sly smile. The cast is led by Stiller; Jack Black, Tom Cruise, Matthew McConaughey, and especially Robert Downey Jr.


ABOUT THE BLOGGER

For 34 years, Peter Gianotti reviewed wines, spirits, restaurants, and books at Newsday. He twice won Press Club of New York awards for food writing. Before he became a food critic, Gianotti was a Washington correspondent, a financial writer, and New York City reporter for the newspaper. His books include “Food Lovers’ Guide to Long Island” and “A Guide to Long Island Wine Country.” Gianotti received his B.A. from Fordham University, where he taught journalism; and his M.S. from Columbia University, where he also was a Bagehot Fellow. Harry, his Creamsicle-hued assistant, prefers the bouquets of riesling and pinot noir.

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