Celebrating my wife’s birthday at a high end Asian restaurant in Tel Aviv last night, instigated this blog post. It seems that the markup on wine in Israeli restaurants is as steep as can be. Wines that we buy at the wineries for roughly 100 NIS a bottle, will often be priced at 260-280 nis at the restaurants. Although Tel Aviv aspires to be like Manhattan, we are not quite there yet, which brings us to the first and most important tip.

Outside wine in Tel Aviv restaurants is permitted! As long as you bring a vintage and label which the restaurant does not offer, the wine can be opened and poured for a cork fee [roughly 40 -60 Nis] If you cannot find the wine list online, it is perfectly acceptable to call the restaurant and ask. For our celebration, we brought 2 bottles [2015 Pinot Grigio from Lueria Winery and a 2010 Layam by Agur Winery] we offered a taste of both to our waiter. In general, being nice about bringing outside wine to a restaurant always helps. In the past, pouring some of our wine to the staff of the restaurant to taste has gotten us extra appetizers and desserts that were on the house.
Jerusalem is not Tel Aviv. Wine is the only beverage in the Bible that has its own blessing. Wine was and is used as part of Pagan rituals. The outcome is that religious Jews require Kosher wine. If you are going to a Kosher restaurant in Jerusalem , you need to bring Kosher wine , touring the Judean Hills boutique wineries with us , is an easy way to get acquainted with superb Kosher wines.

 

Roasted Pineapple @ Taizu TLV

Roasted Pineapple @ Taizu TLV

 

Asking for a taste before ordering a glass is allowed If a restaurant is selling a wine by the glass, it is allowed and acceptable to ask for a taste. At the price the restaurant charges for the wine, they can afford to allow a client to preview the wine before ordering it.

Israel is hot, cool your wine! Room temperature is a term that refers to 13th century Europe. These days North America and North Tel Aviv are hot! Wine simply tastes better when it is cool. If you have ordered a wine which is warm, ask for an ice bucket. Yes, even if this is a red wine. You will thank us later!

When Gidi Sayada, the young and promising Wine Maker of Lueria winery told me that he currently produces 50,000 bottles a year I was a bit taken back. It seems that Lueria has only been around for a short time. This is obviously a misperception that I got over rather quickly. Yossef Sayada, Gidi’s father, had planted beautiful vineyards 18 years ago and has been sourcing excellent wine grapes to other wineries for their premium wines. The vineyards are hill sided in an elevation of 840 to 890 meters above sea level next to Moshav Safsufa which in ancient Aramaic means “a place where the fruit ripen late.” A rare occasion in Israel’s summer conditions!

The vineyards enjoy rich soil that includes Limestone, Terra Rosa and Basalt in every plot as well as the Galilee weather conditions which at this point are well known. To this day, Yossi Sayada remains the Vintner of Lueria winery.
A few years ago Chef Alon Gonen wrote the following about Lueria’s Rouge wine ‘This wine is rich in wonderful flavors of ripe fruit balanced pleasant acidity, the wine has absorbed a barrel for a year and a half and this time gave Sangiovese steadiness and sturdy body very buttery wine and a very pleasant astringency”

In our wine tasting which was held in late May 2013 at the new visitor center that Lueria Winery opened only 3 months ago, we tried the 2012 Lueria Gewürztraminer, a Semi Dry wine with nice citrus aromas, tropical smell of pineapple and very pleasant acidity.I was also very impressed with the 2011 Lueria Rosso which uses 70% Italian varieties [In the form of Barbera and Sangiovese grapes] along with 20% Shiraz and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon which according to Gidi tame the wine and give it a more softer taste. Speaking of Italian varieties, the Sayada family has planted Pinot Grigio in their vineyards (not a commonly used variety in Israel I wineries) that will be ready to be harvested by next year.

I was thoroughly impressed with all the wines; I tried but especially with the two above. All we can say is congratulations to Gidi Sayada as we wait patiently for his future wines.