As I have mentioned in the past, it is no secret that percentage wise, the vast majority of wine purchases in Israel and in Jewish communities abroad take place in the weeks leading up to the Rosh HaShana (Jewish New Year) and Passover holidays. Supermarket chains, wine stores and wineries offer tempting specials, with pretty good table wines selling sometimes 3 and even 4 bottles for NIS 100. Additionally, if you walk through the aisles of your neighborhood grocery store, you may bump into representatives from the various wineries (usually the larger ones) offering a taste and sample of their merchandise.
After conducting a brief survey (I have no claims of being a statistician or professional surveyor), it was evident that the average family purchases most (volume wise) of their holiday wines in the supermarket chains rather than professional or specialty wine stores, and with these prices and specials, I can definitely understand why.
At this price range, don’t expect “big” wines, however, in my opinion, the following are approachable, easy drinking and enjoyable wines offering good value for money.
Suggested Red Wines from various Israeli wineries:
Tabor, Har, Merlot, 2010 – balanced, generous fruity notes, and overall an enjoyable vino.
Golan Heights, Mount Hermon, Red, 2011 – a good and easy drinking blend with notes of plums and berry fruit backed by a hint of warm spices.
Binyamina, Bin, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010 – 100% Cab, suggesting dark berry fruits and peppery notes with good texture on the palate.13% Alcohol make this a rather food friendly wines as well.
Dalton, Marom, Red, 2010 – light, pleasant fruity profile that brings to mind sour cherries and plums with a relatively clean finish.
Barkan, Classic, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010 – Selling 4 for NIS 100 in most stores, dark berry fruits on the nose and palate followed by slight green and peppery notes.
Teperberg, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot, 2010 – fruity with subtle green notes and a clean finish.
Galil Mountain, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010 - a pleasant and balanced blend, good fruity notes and a clean finish.
Segal, Single, Marom Galil, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010 – very enjoyable, with good body and structure. The nose and palate suggest dark berry fruits, plums, pepper and chocolate.
Carmel Winery, Private Collection, Merlot, 2010 – this label has offered some pleasant surprises over the past years. Good fruit and concentration, a bit on the jammy side but still quite enjoyable.
Suggested White/Rose Wines from various Israeli wineries:
Recanati, Yasmin, White, 2011 – a very enjoyable white blend, among the best in its price category - refreshing, aromatic and good balancing acidity.
Golan Heights, Gamla, Sauvignon Blanc, 2011 – clean notes of lemon, freshly cut grass and tart pineapple leading to a pleasant finish.
Barkan, Reserve, Emerald Riesling, 2011 – semi dry and aromatic with notes of citrus and white flowers leading to a clean finish.
Galil Mountain, Rose, 2011 – as always, among the best Israeli Rose options in this price range – notes of strawberries, red apples and flowers with a pleasant after taste.
If you are looking for a sweeter wine, try Dalton’s or Teperberg’s refreshing Moscato vinos. Serve chilled with a colorful fresh fruit platter.
Several general tips for supermarket wine shopping:
• Look at the color of white wines. If it seems yellow or brownish, put down the bottle and pick up another.
• Look at the vintage year. These wines are meant to be consumed in their youth and you will be looking for wines from the 2010 and 2011 vintages. If the wine is from 2008 or 2007, it was probably left somewhere in the store’s storage facility or in the back of the shelf.
• This is an opportunity to mix & match and serve several types of wines throughout the meal (and at an affordable price too).
• Wine is rather temperature sensitive. If the store displays wine by the window with direct sunlight, I would try to avoid those vinos and pick up a bottle from the store’s interior wine “department”.