Wednesday night I attended my first wine tasting as an intern to wine writer, David Rhodes. We just had finished editing his first issue of Israel’s Wine & Dine Digest: Israel’s first wine magazine in English and had immediately come over from Vinocigar (in Tel Aviv’s Azrieli Mall), which had been our impromptu office for the afternoon.
The tasting was for the Midbar Winery, a new winery located in the Negev Desert. Midbar by the way is Hebrew for desert. The tasting was held at the stunning Tel Aviv apartment of owners Itzhak Wolf and Shelley Goldman, overlooking the picturesque park He Bei’yar. The apartment had the feel of a swanky exclusive restaurant when we entered. The rustic wood floors, simple white tables, and warm lighting created a homey yet sophisticated atmosphere. Wine bottles and cookbooks accentuated a modern table that opened up on hinges to seat the twenty guests for the evening. The kitchen was a dream for not only any home cook, but something many Israeli restaurant chefs might be envious of. As this was my first time at a sit down wine tasting, David advised me not worry about my inexperience and just have fun tasting the wines. We each had our own setting with notes (in Hebrew) of what we were tasting and some gourmet local cheeses to complement the wines.
Winemaker Meital Damri guided us through the tasting. She would present and we would try seven wines total, four white and three red. David told me to try to taste for white and tropical fruits in the white wines (i.e. apples, pineapple, pears, peaches) and red, black, and blue fruits in the red wines (raspberries, blueberries, cherries). Once he told me this, I started noticing these different flavors. Although I loved the red wines, tasting the whites was the most fun. I am more familiar with red wine so I hope to learn more about white wine during this journey. I especially liked the 2012 Midbar Chardonnay since it was not too sweet or sour. I also got to taste an orange wine, which was a first for me, and I am told are fairly rare especially in Israel. I learned that an orange wine uses white wine grapes, but is made the way red wine is made with the skins in contact with the juice. This method is what imparts the orange color just like red wine gets its red color from the skins. David told me you can make a white wine from red grapes and it’s called a Blanc de Noir, a white from black.
While I of course enjoyed drinking the delicious wine, what I noticed most about the night was the good company and hospitality. Shelley was a gracious host, constantly making sure we had enough food and wine, and the guests were friendly, interesting, and talkative. Though I was a newbie, none of the guests were judgmental; rather, they were curious and interested in talking to me about my interest in food and wine. As I begin this internship, I am excited to see what other exciting experiences this new world of food and wine will bring me. Not only am I thirsty for new wines to try but I’m thirsty for the knowledge that will help me appreciate what I’m tasting.