Dry And Earthy

A friend recently asked me to suggest a good inexpensive kosher sparkling wine for a party to celebrate the completion of her Ph.D. She was rather surprised when the wine I suggested was not from Israel or California, but from Spain. Spanish wines used to be one of the wine world’s best-kept secrets – but no longer. After two decades of intense modernization and development, the Spanish wine industry today produces some of the world’s best wines. Wine guru Robert Parker recently predicted that in 15 years Spain will be the star of the wine world, and that’s a prediction that’s hard to argue against.

Although it was once only known for the wines of Jerez (Sherry), Spain, in fact, has a very diverse wine industry that cultivates nearly 1,600 different varieties of wine grapes. With such a large number of varietals, it is hard to come up with too many generalities about Spanish wines, but here are a few: Spanish whites tend to be dry and fruity, Spanish reds tend to be meaty, Spanish wines tend to have a lovely earthy element and tend to be very reasonably priced. Luckily, for the kosher consumer, the last few years has seen several good, and even excellent, kosher Spanish wines released on the U.S. market. Today’s kosher consumer can buy everything from world-class Spanish reds, to traditional Sherry, to delightful Champagne-like sparklers.

The wine I suggested to my friend was the Tierra Salvaje Cava Brut Reserva. This Spanish sparkling wine, or Cava, is made in Spain by Moët & Chandon, the French Champagne producer known best for their flagship Dom Perignon Champagne. The Brut Reserva is a lively Champagne-style wine, with a bright straw color, a citrus nose and large long lasting bubbles. It has a crisp pineapple flavor, floral hints and a dry, slightly lemony, finish. One of the best parts of this wine is its low $13 price tag. Perhaps the most interesting kosher wine to come out of Spain thus far is Capçanes’s Peraj Ha’abib. The small winery that makes this wine is located in a hilly region about 100 miles south of Barcelona, a region that is rapidly becoming the home to some of Spain’s best wines.

The name, Peraj Ha’abib, is the Spanish transliteration of a Hebrew phrase meaning flower of spring. The wine is well named, because like the pedals of a flower there are so many wonderful layers of flavor that can be pealed away before getting to the wine’s core. When drinking this wine, look for flavors of cranberries, currants, blackberries, Bing cherries, anise, oak, tobacco, vanilla, mocha, and citrus fruits. Unfortunately, Spanish kosher wines tend to be poorly distributed in the U.S. So even though you might not find Capçanes or Tierria Salvaje in every wine store with a kosher section, odds are you will find a few kosher wines from Spain. Try one. Although not every Spanish wine is great, I can honestly say I’ve never tried a bad one.

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