Pairing Wine with Beer

*This was originally a guest post on www.israeli-wine.org blog*

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Dalton wines, waiting for the perfect time to be uncorked…

Every time my wife and I make our bi-annual trip back home to Israel, we especially look forward to visiting our relatives in the north for the usual great conversations, delicious dinners and amazing wine in the cool Golan breeze.

Our last such dinner included several Hatzilim (eggplant) dishes, various spicy spreads, a Greek salad and fried red mullet fillets accompanied by Dalton 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Rose and 2007 Sauvignon Blanc… and of course enlightening conversation about the very wine we were drinking.

“Wine making takes a lot of patience, there is a huge amount of waiting,” started Binyamin “Beni” Sorkin, the famous viticulturalist (partly of Yarden, Galil Mountain brands fame) and Israeli wine industry consultant, our host and my uncle in-law. “It takes at least a case of beer to make a bottle of good wine,” he continued swirling the newly minted Dalton Rose… A wine coincidentally made by Naama Mualem, Beni’s oldest daughter.

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Beni Sorkin in his wine cellar with the Dalton 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Rose and 2007 Sauvignon Blanc

I’m not sure people outside the industry have ever measured good wine in the amount of beer it takes to create it… Sure, some folks are aware of the role of water in the manufacturing of wine (if taking glass and other industrial manufacturing processes into account), but the beer insight is new and more delicious.

Figuring this would be a perfect theme to explore for this gracious guest blog post from Avi, my wife and I jumped in our rented car and headed to Dalton Winery to discuss it further with those entrenched in the process. Without question, the phrase seems to resonate with industry professionals but needs to be put in perspective. I asked Naama and Beni what exactly they are waiting for… in a world of automated harvest machinery and bottling process, hasn’t the process been sped up and not slowed down?

“As the winemaker, I wait for everybody and for everything, including myself. From the perfect time to harvest, to the actual time that harvest gets in the gates to the winery from the vineyard, mashing and filtering, the bottling process, and of course the barrel aging” Naama notes. And because the harvest times are different for each varietal, each one of them goes through the process alone and you usually can’t combine bottling of a Sauvignon Blanc while mashing of Merlot is going on. “So the beer comes into play between stages of winemaking and every time the process has started.” She summed up, confirming her father’s assertion.

Just like wine is often paired with a good cheese, a cold beer is always matched well with a game of Shesh besh (or backgammon). Naama made a point to mention that there is a lot of Shesh besh playing in between work. “In fact this year we launched a Shesh besh tournament. We are the first ever wine business in Israel to open such a league,” she boasts. While the league is currently open to Dalton employees only, Naama dreams of a country wide competition between wineries.

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Naama Mualem, Chief Wine Maker at Dalton and backgammon enthusiast

Gaining this insight, we proceeded to the tasting, which as usual I can only describe as hedonistic given our familial leverage, tasting all thirteen 2008 bottles and with regional artesian cheeses, breads and spreads. This brings me back to the Dalton 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Rose we had on our first night in the Golan… it was very refreshing, served somewhat cool but not cold. It embraced the spices in the spreads and home made olive oil, and yet the delicacy of the red mullet; it was the right wine at the right place and definitely at the right time. I recommend it immensely.

Waiting can also be savoring, taking the time to enjoy something; it can also be looked at as anticipation… and here is where US consumers can relate. Because of Shmita rules (biblical agriculture laws mandating a break from harvest on the 7th year), Dalton will not be exporting the 2008 wines, so you may be sipping beer between now and when the 2009 vintages make it stateside. Good things come to those who wait, and the waiting time can be easily passed by drinking Goldstar or Guinness while playing a fierce game of Shesh besh.

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Pam and Jim’s UGC and SM Secret

4Photo courtesy of NBC Universal and www.halpertbeesly.com

So, the kids are grown up all set to leave the nest together… and I’m not talking about Pam and Jim (yet), but rather social media (aka SM) and its sibling user generated content (or UGC).

We all remember the TIME Magazine cover at onset of 2007 (gosh has it been THAT long?!), and the more recent (June 2009) Twitter cover, proclaiming the arrival of UGC and SM into the big leagues… clearly, that train hasn’t slowed down since leaving the station.

Last night, my wife and I (as the rest of The Office watching world) tuned in to perhaps the most monumental sitcom event since the end of the Seinfeld era (g’head argue otherwise)… finally, after years of torment, countless times of looking away due to Michael’s uneasy jokes, all the laughter, some tears etc etc… the moment came. There they were, our Pam and Jim… FINALLY getting hitched.

What ensued was a spoof of the famous YouTube clip “JK Wedding Entrance Dance,” a home video that garnered over 27 million hits as of the morning after the episode aired.

I have not seen the video above until after the show aired (I’ve since given up my residence under a rock), which is a sweet embrace of a special moment in the real couple’s lives (whom should also be commended for using their new found web-fame for charity purposes). It was mimicked nearly to the T by the Office crew (see the full scene here) as the ending of the highly anticipated episode.

What I took away from this (because quite honestly it was rather anticlimactic for me and not any funnier than other episodes) was the fact that here it was, the top grossing sitcom around now ‘borrowing’ on the UGC movement, for an episode of this magnitude… seems risky (lazy even), but then again 27 million YouTube hits can’t be wrong, right?

Undoubtedly, UGC has arrived, but it has never looked so overproduced and sappy…

We all know that traditional media is struggling, and TV is no different. Reality shows are in-style for a reason; their lack of writing and acting staff along with other major overheads that’s pushing traditional media underwater… so where to turn other than into predetermined, built-in and established audiences? Besides even in TV terms 27 million people is a big share.

So it’s understandable, but disappointing nonetheless, at least from the standpoint that fictional characters should have fictional lives. I would’ve liked to see, what Doc Brown of Back to the Future called, a parallel reality… a parody of The Office world itself, than our real life events.

Also of note, when I started searching for the original video, I stumbled upon the below clip, which calls out several other ‘borrowed’ parody pieces within the wedding episode (puking scene, and the T shirt, both questionable according to the comments). Some food for thought though, pun intended.

Where will this ‘borrowing’ trend net out? We’ll have to wait and see… and through the years of training we all received from Pam and Jim’s back and forth escapades on The Office, we can hold out for quite a while.

So, to summarize and quote the touching ending to Jim’s rehearsal dinner toast… here’s to waiting!

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