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A bottle of Bubbly in the Desert

-I have just returned from a brief assignment, (away from the frantic culmination of our harvest up north,) in the heart of Israel's arid desert, Mitzpe Ramon. There, ensconced in one of Israel's most luxury hotels, I reflected on the art of pairing food and wine and why it goes beyond simply matching the menu-says Debbie Sion, Head of the Golan Heights Winery's training department.

The lunch tables had been laden with red wines and the waiters were proud to boast that our red wines were their bestsellers. When I asked why, they explained that their menu is replete with meat dishes. One of the classical assumptions made, when pairing wines, is that red wine automatically goes hand in hand with meat and white wine, likewise, with fish. While this assumption is a good rule of thumb, pairing food and wine can transcend this basic rule. I believe that wine pairing goes beyond the menu, indeed, it needs to encompass both the location and occasion.

The lunch tables had been laden with red wines and the waiters were proud to boast that our red wines were their bestsellers. When I asked why, they explained that their menu is replete with meat dishes. One of the classical assumptions made, when pairing wines, is that red wine automatically goes hand in hand with meat and white wine, likewise, with fish. While this assumption is a good rule of thumb, pairing food and wine can transcend this basic rule. I believe that wine pairing goes beyond the menu, indeed, it needs to encompass both the location and occasion.

There I sat, in the heat of the desert and in the quiet serenity of the hotel and my mind wondered to a quality, cool sparkling wine. Heavy red wines fit perfectly with a stormy winter's night or candlelit dinner, not against the backdrop of the end of summer, lounging by the pool. There I was with the sun beating down on me and I wanted to find a wine to match the holiday atmosphere and seasonal weather. Wine pairing is not just about following the rules, wine pairing can change the mood of a meal in an instant.

Sparkling wine, when made well, has a delicate flavor, is easy on the palate and always adds a festive feel to the accompanying meal. It has a lower alcohol content than regular wine (less than 12%) and will leave you refreshed throughout the day.

Produced in the traditional method, sparkling wines generally feature the date of vintage in a prime position on the bottle, emphasizing unique and superior harvests. Quality wine manufacturers take the decision to make sparkling wine very seriously and we, at the Golan Heights Winery, only produce the Yarden Blanc du Blancs when we have an extraordinary harvest.

The Yarden Blanc de Blancs is a source of local pride and international quality which provides an unforgettable champagne experience without an extravagant price tag. It is a wine which oozes the ultimate freedom, even in the middle of a hectic week!

If you think about matching wine to life, the whole approach to pairing changes and you begin to think about new culinary adventures. After all, we're just talking about expressing the beautiful experiences in life.

Debbie Sion, Head of the Golan Heights Winery's training department.

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