By Gabriel Geller
This column is usually published ahead of yom tov. However, as we all know, wine is integral to our lifestyle throughout the year. Shabbos, vorts, weddings, sheva brachos, or events such as a birthday or an anniversary are all occasions on which some good wine can be part of a good l’chaim.
We live in interesting times, with fast-increasing costs of living across the board and a proliferation of high-end wines. The extensive array of kosher wines keeps on widening, with regions and styles never explored before making their way to the stores’ shelves. Many of these wines carry price tags of over $50, which can be frustrating as most people cannot afford to spend that much on a bottle. The good news is that while premium wines induce buzz and chatter among aficionados, they are still a minority.
Many excellent wines that retail between $15–$30 can be enjoyed by all. It is hard to beat the value provided by the wines in Herzog’s Lineage series. For instance, at $20 or less, the Herzog Lineage Malbec 2020 has all the characteristics of the variety—flavorful, meaty with notes of blueberries, plums, and spices. It is great for a steak dinner or with a juicy Shabbos roast.
If you are looking for a wine from Israel, Carmel has a broad array of affordable, well-made wines. The Selected Mediterranean, a unique blend with notes of raspberries, olives, and fresh herbs, can be found for less than $15. Their Appellation Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot retail for around $20 and are beautifully layered with a bold, rich profile.
When it comes to French wines, they can indeed be intimidating. Because of their names and the aura of the likes of the Château Giscours and Pontet-Canet, many people believe all French wines are expensive and unattainable. However, there are, in fact, many French wines that are affordable and enjoyable, as well. Take, for instance, a classic bottle, Château Les Riganes 2021. It is an authentic Bordeaux wine with all the characteristics one can expect: Elegant, medium-bodied, restrained, and dry, with notes of ripe strawberries, blackberries, earthy undertones, and cigar box. French sophistication and expert craftmanship at less than $15.
Italian wines are trending, and the choice of quality wines from this classic old-world region is steadily growing. The Ovadia line has a lovely, juicy, fruity, yet refined Chianti 2019 from the Colli Senesi subregion that is a true hidden gem. It costs only about $13 or so and comes in highly recommended!
One could not list high QPR (Quality-Price-Ratio) wines and omit some excellent Spanish ones. Ramon Cardova has released a high-end Reserva Old Vine wine that is genuinely delightful but quite limited. And it disappears from stores shelves quickly as it retails for around $25. However, the classic Ramon Cardova Rioja Crianza 2019 is also superb and retails for approximately $15–20. It has everything you want in a great Rioja—juicy ripe fruit, herbs, oak, and vanilla. Whether sipped alongside pulled beef tacos or with a bowl of hot cholent, it will surprise even the snobbiest wine drinkers. L’chaim!