Tag Archives: Wine

In My (E-Mail) Inbox 4


In My (E-Mail) Inbox 4 (Randyjw; October 27, 2016)


Wine and China


Two good deals have popped up in my email inbox, listed from the Travelzoo Top 20 deals for the week beginning October 26, 2016: Wine and China.


National Geographic presents its world wines for its subscription wine service, sending out a crated box, direct to consumer, once every three months — cancellable or skipable at any time, per instructions.


This great deal from NatGeo includes a crate of twelve wines based on your choice of all red, all white, or a combination of both, plus three bonus bottles in this shipment. The promotional rate for the first crate at $89.00 includes free shipping, valued around $19.99, and must be booked/reserved online using your Travelzoo promotional code (which you can receive free once signed-up at their site: travelzoo.com) by January 24, 2017. Thereafter, you’ll be sent additional crates every three months, unless you alert them, otherwise.


Selections for the first shipment include for the:


Saracosa 2014 (2); Château Roc de Pellebouc 2015; Stones and Bones 2013 (2); Raymond ‘The Inaugural’ 2015; The Black Stump 2016 (2); Pescadero Rock 2013; La Cantera Reserva 2012 (2) – 20th anniversary; a wine by ex-bull-fighter, Xavier Domecq; Fortazzo 2014; Schroeder Estate 2015 (3 bonus bottles) – a Patagonian Malbec from Argentina.



Tikohi 2015; Paolo Valle 2015 (2); A Tavola 2015 – Chardonnay from film director Francis Ford Coppola; Sendero des Santos 2015 (2); Lobo e Falcao Branco 2013 (2); Alto Sentiero dei Pini 2014; Alma Andina 2015 (2); The Rustler 2015; Abbesse de Loire 2015 (3 bonus bottles).


6 gift wine bags are included, along with tasting notes, serving and pairing advice, plus the convenience of to-your-door delivery make this a great gift for yourself or someone special. At less than six dollars per bottle in this introductory offer, a little goodwill and cheer for the holidays will go a long way.


Drygulski, Jennie. “$89 – National Geographic: 15 Wines of the World, Reg. 290”. Travelzoo.com; October 26, 2016:




China 15 Days 2017: $1399 – $1599*

Book with Travelzoo promotional code by November 2, 2016.

(*certain dates add $100 or $200; certain departure cities add $100 or $200. Does not include visa to China of approximately $190.00; Certain dates apply. Does not include price of three additional and optional tours, which seem commended. Must book online in same first visit, or pricing changes may apply. See tour operator website for full details and updates).


Sinorama Holidays, via Travelzoo, is offering a great price on this Asian vacation. Visit at least five UNESCO sites, including the Forbidden City of the Emperor’s Palace, the Terra Cotta Army and the Great Wall. See the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace, and Tianenmen Square. Experience the iconic Yangtze River and a Captain’s Welcoming dinner during your included four-night riverboat cruise viewing the Three Gorges along the Yangtze River. Cruise the byways and take in an on-board show – a saturation of the senses!


You’ll be navigating with just about every mode of transport on this trip — which, just for that alone, these experiences and prices are worth it! From the fast-moving panorama from the high-speed bullet train, as well as savoring the slow-motion man-power of the rickshaw, you’ll shop the famed Nanjing Road and take in the sights from your guided and escorted motorcoach tours.


Two in-country flights, as well as small boat transfers, will get you up-close to nature to experience the gorges, and in reaching your other additional destinations. Additional excursions, which are optional, but look highly recommended, include the following three, and relatively cheap (one for $50; two others for $30 apiece) add-ons. With the exception of your arrival and departure from China, eight other days include 3 meals, but five days only offer two meals.


Instead, for the most part, you’ll find that the missed meal is occasionally made-up during the optional excursions. These include: a “Tang Dynasty Dancing Show” in Xi’an, along with a Xi’an Dumpling Banquet. A dumpling banquet? Are you sure that isn’t actually part and parcel of the offerings you’d find in a Temple of Heaven? An entire banquet of dumplings? Oh, please send me some! This is the $50.00 side-trip. And dumplings!!!


How about a Shanghai acrobat show, and dinner (just $30.00), following your included tours at the Shanghai Museum or walking the streets in the tony boutiques of Nanjing Road? Yes, please! If you’ve never seen the acrobatic gymnastics teams from China, then you’ll be enthralled and amazed at their maneuvers and tumbling.


There’s also a five-hour Beijing at Night tour with included dinner for $30.00. Why not? Bright lights and city vibes, for sure.


Visit the iconic panda bear, symbol of good luck and good fortune, at the zoo. Chongqing, Shanghai, Beijing, Xi’an, Wuhan, and Jingzhou, are just some of the vicinities you’ll be nearby to when exploring the myriad locations which China has to offer.


This sounds like a rare opportunity to enjoy the area of China at a low price and while we’re able. I hope you’ll get to do so.


Please make sure to finalize your plans and decisions before visiting the website, in order to get the special pricing and to confirm all information, updates and changes, as I do not warrant and do not represent the entities originally presenting the information.


Biondolillo, Rachel. “1399 – $1599 – China 2-Week Adventure w/Air from 44 Cities”. Travelzoo.com; October 26, 2016:


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Defending Odedi


Defending Odedi (Randyjw; with corrections 04/28/2016)


As it happens in the internet world, one person’s expertise in one area might lead you to the discovery of interesting facets of another subject. So it is with writers for web sites and information researchers, as well as it is for purveyors of fine reading materials in leisurely pursuit.


Thus it was that hard-working Odedi, by happenstance, ran across my WordPress blogsite, NewsNotes1. He is a wine reviewer with an ever-expanding corpus of followers engaged in kind reparte’ about wine at his blog: https://winesipping.wordpress.com/, with the exception of one commenter, who chose to unsubscribe from his website.


Apparently, he does his homework beyond the expectations of any casual commenter about the subject. By proactively seeking out every little reference regarding wine that he can unearth, he uncovers new avenues and gleans additional information supportive of his knowledge base. That’s how he ran across my website, due to my mention of a charoset preparation for Passover I made utilizing Manischewitz Concord Grape wine.


And, I’m glad he did, because it gave me the opportunity to peruse his website in kind and to read several articles he had recently written about several white Californian wines he had sampled, and his reactions to the same. I found his reviews engaging, highly knowledgeable, and well-written, to the extent that I commented whether he had written professionally for wine magazines, and if he were not — at least yet, at this point in time — that he, indeed, should be doing so for the forseeable future.


Better still was the engaging commentary supplied by wine lovers, distributors, store owners and others, who lent his wine site an authoritative and approachable forum in which to communicate one’s passions and experiences, or lack thereof, in the subject.


Now, I’m not an oenophile, and I have no raging passion for wine: I actually can’t stand dry, white wines and decidedly reason to differ why anyone would prefer such a wine, over, say, a nice, Concord grape with plenty of sweetness and full-bodied, fruity flavor. However, I do recognize the passion for grape-growers, and all that entails.


I share, though not latently, an interest in that passion. I secretly admire the heritage of grape cultivation and the arboreal-horticultural similarities to the studies of botany, geology, soil and earth sciences, climatology, grafting, and other aspects that go into wine production that the end result must ostensibly cover. Equally interesting are the wine producers and their vineyards — their so called “stock”-in-trade.


Though I haven’t researched it, it stands out firmly that some, if not the earliest, mentions of grapes comes from the Holy Land, in Israel, found in the pages resident of the Old Testament, related as the foundation of the Jewish religion described within its pages therein. The fruit was so large, it required another to bear it between them, and the iconic image became emblazoned on all communique’s emanating from the Israeli Ministry of Tourism for such a long time, that, eventually, they have been changing the logo continuously over the past few decades.


Nazirs were ones who abstained from the grape products, and our King Solomon emoted poetical on the pleasures of its essences. The Psalms of King David and friends speak of the desire to be able to rest, each man, beneath his fig and his vine, without the need to war for our existence on earth. These first known odes to the grape originate among the Jewish tribes of Israel. The stuffed grape leave has long been a staple of Middle Eastern and Greek cuisine.


Wine-making goes back thousands of years in Israel. Huge vats and presses, as well as the amphorae, the vessels of clay made for the storage of other items, as well as clay seals and stamps, have been excavated from Israeli soil, attesting to the veracity of its thousands of years of production original to Israel.


Why anybody, especially in today’s day and age, would attack a wine reviewer for including numerous Israeli wines among his reports, is beyond me. Such a commenter showed up at Odedi’s “winesipping” website and proceeded to comment, rather vociferously, about Odedi’s lack of a personal biography attesting to his related credentials at the site. Another additional comment, seeming to require and, almost demand, it of him again was made. The commenter, traderbillonwine, seemed rather intimidating, to me. That is why I am writing this post about it. He also made his displeasure of his reportage on the many Israeli products at his site seem like an offense for taking a more prominent place among his listings than he felt was deserved.


Pardon me, Sir. Perhaps the Minnesota weather has had you snowed in for a time and you haven’t realized that Israel’s award-winning wines have taken top billing in international judging competitions worldwide, and that boutique wineries in Israel’s emerging new wine markets are gaining top prizes and are finding their way to tables in fine-dining establishments and into the dark holds of winecellars everywhere.


In fact, Israel saved France’s wine industry, as France saved Israel’s, long ago — or so I’ve been told. I don’t know. I only worked at a wine and liquor store for a few weeks as a subcontracted individual helping people with their carts, and occasionally leading people to their selections, or to added help from the store personnel more qualified to answer their inquiries. It did give me an opportunity to read the wine industry magazines in the lunchroom while on my breaks. I do notice the similarly-styled descriptions found in these trade sources matching the nuanced descriptions found in Odedi’s views. I don’t know why this one gentleman would take such offense, as such.


Perhaps he’ll blow it off as a blowhard commenter and let it pass, the steam of its negativity spiraling itself to nowhere. It’d be a good idea. As for me, I’m gonna do what I do, whether I do it “well” or otherwise; I am going to comment on its inappropriateness, as a seemingly thinly-veiled “stab” (to use a poor choice of words, but which carries its weight of significance well) on an individual who deals with Israeli products made from (*gasp!*) Israel.


The fact that he does or doesn’t post a personal biography with his personal details in it for the eyes of all, sane and insane, to see in a public space in no way refutes his abilities to continue to post his reviews online for the mass public to enjoy. That he can wrest the industry, much like Israel has done, away from its cartel-like vice around the industry might grate at the “fine sensibilities” of those who have tried to hold its closely-guarded secrets against the vest.


I do feel that opening it up, being more transparent, has actually revived an old-heritage institution. It might be time, Sir, for you to see the light… or the rose’… or the red… or the Syrah…

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Randy’s Recipes: No-Nut Charoset/Berry Good Passover Compote/Pesach Shake/Citrus Passover Salad/Charoset So-Smoothie


Presto, Change-o !!!


My own personal preference in making charoset includes adding a nut to the dish, such as walnuts; however, as some people have nut allergies and I didn’t have nuts to add to the recipe, I made it with ingredients on-hand. This recipe serves one for the First Night and the Second Night. It is the result of my Passover preparations with a limited pantry, and not necessarily the best charoset recipe, ever. Maybe I’ll work on that, future and G-d providing…



No-Nut Charoset (Randyjw; April 24, 2016)


Approx. 5 medium-to-large apples (actually, the more, the merrier), any type of your choice (I used Red Delicious)

Several ounces of liquor/wine of your choice (I used a sweet wine: Manischewitz Concord Grape Kosher For Passover wine — it comes in other flavors, such as raspberry, or cherry, as well)

Ground cinammon

Sugar, of any type of your choice

If using: Nuts, any of your choice (I like walnuts, but almonds and pecans, or other nuts would be delicious, as well)



Pare the apples. If using a knife and leaving some inner apple attached to the skin, it will leave them more moist. If using a vegetable peeler, the skins will become quite thin and more crisp. I used the thicker method, which leaves them a bit rubbery and more to the chew, but you can experiment and see which, if any, you prefer (you don’t have to use the skins, at all).


Chop the skins (small, fine, or a bit larger — your preference) and place on a baking tray. If using nuts, you can add them here, to make candied nuts; or, use them in the main mixture of apple, below; or, add them to each batch!


Sprinkle cinammon and lots of sugar on top.


Toast in the oven (or toaster oven) until crisp, but not burnt. Keep an eye on them; they cook fairly quickly as the sugar heats up and kindof carmelizes.


On a cutting board, chop the apple innards, minus the core, which should be discarded, and the seeds, which should be planted ❤


In small batches as you proceed, pour a bit of Kosher for Passover wine (other liqueurs work fine: Cognac, Brandy, Chambord (yummy raspberry and honey liqueur), Plum, Cherry, Muscat, whatever your preference might be. Please note that these non-Kosher liquor choices nullify both the Passover/Kashrut designations. Any item, or recipe, should be verified Kashrut-acceptable by strict Rabbinic sources, of which I am not).


You can use nuts here, or add them into the above mixture, as well (or do both)!


Last minute at serving, sprinkle the apple skin mixture over the light apple innards, leaving two distinct, unblended, separate flavors, allowing the individual to mix to the extent that their preferences desire.


The first photo is actually the combination, innards hidden from view by its covering. With leftovers and time, the flavors will meld, anyway.


After two days, almost all the charoset was gone, eaten by yours truly.

5.1 Yums Up



Berry Good Passover Compote (Randyjw; April 24, 2016)




No-Nut Charoset (see recipe above)

Mixed fruit (I used a frozen bag of mixed berries and bananas, but you can use fresh fruit, canned fruit, or frozen fruit of your kind and preferences. If using frozen fruit, cut open bag and rinse frozen fruit. Pour out fruit into a bowl to thaw. Drain and reserve liquid from frozen fruit for Pesach Shake; see recipe, below)



Combine ingredients.



3.7 Yums Up


Pesach Shake (Randyjw; April 24, 2016)




No-Nut Charoset (see recipe, above)

Reserved Liquid from frozen fruit of Berry Good Passover Compote (see recipe, above)

Milk (almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, rice milk, or substitutes also exchangeable and encouraged)

Dollop of fruit from Berry Good Passover Compote, if desired (see recipe, above)

Fruit jam, preserves, marmalade or dessert topping, to flavor and thicken



Combine all ingredients.



3.7 Yums Up


Citrus Passover Salad (Randyjw; April 24, 2016)




No-Nut Charoset (see recipe, above)

Berry Good Passover Compote (see recipe, above)

Lime Yogurt (lemon, or other flavors also work well)

Additional fruits, as desired



Combine ingredients.



3.8 Yums Up



Charoset So-Smoothie (Randyjw; April 24, 2016)




No-Nut Charoset (see recipe, above)

Berry Good Passover Compote (see recipe, above)

Citrus Passover Salad (see recipe, above)



Process ingredients together in a blender or food processor until pureed and smooth.


Add a dollop of whole fruit from Berry Good Passover Compote (see recipe, above).



3.8 Yums Up


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