When most Americans think of wines made from the classic black grape generally known as Syrah in the Old World and Shiraz in the New, they think of the robust red Shirazes from Australia. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Australian Shiraz was one of the most popular imported wines in America. While in the last six or seven years its popularity has been waning, according to USDA import statistics, America still imports more than nine million cases of red wine from Australia each year (down from a peak of nearly 13 million cases in 2005).
From the arrival of distinctive Californian Syrahs to the opening of wineries in such unlikely places as Oregon and Virginia, 2011 was a good year for American kosher wine. If the year bore any surprises, as I looked back over my tasting notes, it was the realization that many of the best wines were domestic. Indeed, nine of the wines on my personal top10 list were made in the United States
Every nation has certain foods and drinks that are so integral to its society that they become part of the very fabric of that nation’s history. In America, we have many such foods and drinks — hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, barbeque ribs, martinis, and Zinfandel wines.
The lead-up to Passover and Rosh HaShanah are the two times each year when kosher wine producers try to bring their new wines to the market. This fall, no doubt in part because of the continuing bad economy, and weak dollar, there are fewer new wines on the market than usual. However, many of the wines that are being released look intriguing.
Thirty-five years ago, in the spring of 1976, a seminal event happened in Paris that changed the map of wine just as much as the American Revolution, 200 years before, had changed the map of the British Empire.
Steven Spurrier, a British wine merchant, then living in Paris, decided to use the American Bicentennial to generate some publicity for himself. So he invited some of France’s most distinguished wine experts to a blind tasting of the best French and American wines. The outcome was a foregone conclusion: France, of course, would win.
One of the minor hazards of being a wine writer is the frequency of requests from friends and family for advice on selecting wines for help in selecting wines. A few weeks ago I got a call from an old friend with an interesting wine question: She wanted me to recommend a few good Israeli Moscatos.