Festival of Lights: A few minor miracles plus wine for Hanukkah

What is Hanukkah all about?

Well, I’m not Jewish and I am certainly not an expert but one friend explained it this way:

Imagine your cell phone shows only 10% charge. And you don’t know when you’ll be able to charge it again. Then that 10% on your phone? It works for eight days! Wouldn’t that be a miracle? That’s what it’s about in a nutshell: the oil needed lasted not one night but eight.

According to Wikipedia, “The Maccabees successfully rebelled against Antiochus IV Epiphanes. According to the Talmud, a late text, the Temple was purified and the wicks of the menorah miraculously burned for eight days, even though there was only enough sacred oil for one day’s lighting.”

When Hanukkah is celebrated changes each year based on the Gregorian calendar but it is always sometime from late November to late December.  In 2017, Hanukkah began on Tuesday December 12 and continues until Weds. December 20. On the first night of Hanukkah, we donned our N95 masks and went over to Karen’s to celebrate with traditional songs, lighting of the menorah, latkes, and a steak dinner.  We also watched and listened to a version or two of Adam Sandler’s Chanukah Song” including this one:


We started our celebration with Ferrari, a sparkling wine from the Italian Alps which I had opened two days before. Similar to the miracle of Hanukkah, the wine was still bubbling beautifully as you can see from the glass!

I offered to Karen to bring red wine, and, again, in another Hanukkah miracle, this  Merlot from Psagot Winery located about a 15 minute drive from Jerusalem showed up that day!

According to the Psagot Winery website, “All of our wines are kosher for Passover. In addition, our wines are Mevushal and Non Mevushal under the strictest Rabbinical supervision. As of 2016 all wines are under the Badatz Edah HaChareidis.”

While Karen doesn’t keep kosher, for those that do, this is a special wine for a special occasion.  Founded in 2003, yet located in an area that has long grown grapes, the Psagot winery chose to feature a coin on the bottle because “during the vineyard’s construction, an ancient cave from the Hasmonean Dynasty period was discovered, and in it, a coin dating back to the Great Revolt of 73–66 BC” was found. Adorned with a vine, the front of the coin reads: “For Freedom of Zion.” The back of the coin shows an amphora which was used to store wine.

The coin serves as “a reminder of our deep connection to the earth and to our roots. As we walk through the vines, we hear the echoes of our ancestors, experts in their time, who made the finest wines for the temples of Jerusalem and emperors of Rome as early as two millennia ago.”

With grapes coming from several vineyards 900 meters above sea level in the Judean mountains and aged for 13 months in French wood barrels,  Psagot’s 2014 Merlot is not one of Sue’s favorites: she is not a fan of oak but it worked for me.

I liked the caramel tones along with the minty herbal and sage notes with generous cherry and there is something distinct about it that I liked — a fascinating intensity–and that possibly turned Sue off; it definitely made me curious about investigating more Israeli wine! Karen and I attended the Kedem tasting in LA a few years ago  but those events can be overwhelming; I know Karen had never attended one and it didn’t take long before her palate was overwhelmed — but not her curiosity!

As we head into the darkest nights of the year, may your candles keep burning!

And may the Thomas Fire go out!

This wine was a sample for my review consideration. Thank you!


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