Chanukah is time to join the club


If Chanukah gift-giving is part of your holiday celebration and there’s a wine lover on your list, look unto these gift ideas.

Consider giving a wine club membership. For those who enjoy wine regularly, membership is an excellent way to keep an adequate supply on hand.

In the United States, wine clubs began to take off in the last decade. The catalyst was the 2005 Supreme Court ruling that any state that allows its wineries to sell and ship their wines directly to consumers cannot also ban out-of-state wineries from doing so.

Some great domestic kosher wineries jumped in, too. Hagafen Cellara in Napa, Calif., has three wine clubs and Covenant Winery in Berkeley, Calif., has two.

Jonthan Hajdu of the Covenant Winery team launched his Adventurer’s Guild wine club for his own Hajdu Wines labeled releases.  Hadju has been making and selling his own small-production, highly limited kosher wines on the side for the last decade, and only added the club in 2016.

His operation is small, but impressive, releasing single barrel wines (each is a new kosher varietal from different regions across California — hence the adventure in the club’s name). Right now his club delivers two shipments each year at $216 for a six-bottle shipment (including shipping).

The Shirah Wine Co., run by California brothers Gabriel and Shimon Weiss, launched two wine clubs, their Tasting Room Membership club and Shirah Wine Club, to showcase their small-quantity but high-end production of kosher wines. Both are pricy, but their wines merit the expense.

Locally, there’s Moti’s Wine Club run out of Moti’s Market in Rockville. The club features a quarterly selection of enjoyable kosher wine — which I select, and in which I have no commercial stake — as well as discounts and wine pick-up parties.

Don’t neglect wine toys as potential gifts. There are a dizzying number of toys, gadgets and accessories to help folks enjoy their wine. One of the better toys is an innovative, though quite pricey, wine preservation and service device called Coravin (from $299).

A metal contraption, vaguely microscope-like in look and feel, with a rather long, slightly scary looking surgical needle, the Coravin enables you to tap into an otherwise sealed wine bottle without popping the cork or introducing additional oxygen. You insert the needle straight through the foil and cork and extract as much wine as desired, while inert argon gas fills the remaining bottle space. When finished, you extract the needle.

The naturally springy cork reseals itself, leaving only the tiniest pinprick in the outer foil capsule. For those who seek the personal equivalent of restaurant by-the-glass service of expensive wines, or who wish to dip into bottles without having to uncork them or without having to finish them in one sitting, this works wonderfully.

As I write this, I’m sipping a Coravin-tapped bottle of Shirah, Alder Springs Furmint, (Mendocino County, Calif.), 2015 ($35): This lovely, golden, rich, full-bodied, complex and unusual white wine is a great California take on the Hungarian white varietal — with honeysuckle, spice, pear, apple, a little honey, a dollop of tropical fruits and subtle stone fruits, all buttressed by brilliant, bracing acidity and a little toasty oak. Fabulous. L’chaim!

Have wine or spirits questions for Joshua E. London? Email him at [email protected].

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