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New York (Reuters Life!) - New Year's, no matter when it comes, always deserves Champagne, said Israeli wine critic Daniel Rogov.
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins at sundown on Sept 29 and Rogov, who writes about wine for Israel's Haaretz newspaper, plans to open a bottle of Ayala Champagne to toast even before the meal begins.
Rogov's annual "Guide to Israeli Wines" is considered the bible on the subject. Much of his research is done while he travels first class and wines and dines in the world's best hotels and restaurants.
"All the major Champagne houses produce excellent Champagne. Whether you prefer this one or that one is a matter of personal taste," he said in a telephone interview from his home in Tel Aviv.
"To my personal taste, Ayala is the one I always enjoy, especially as an aperitif before a meal."
Ayala is not kosher, but both Pommery and Laurent Perrier, two other major houses, make Champagnes that are kosher. Kosher, which translates as ritually pure, means that the wine has met strict rabbinical standards in its production.
For the holiday feast, the first wine Rogov plans to serve is a white, Golan Heights Viognier "the 2007 that's just been released. And the reason for that, Lord forgive me, there is no better match for gefilte fish than a Viognier. It will also go very well with the carpaccio with grouper."
For the main course, a huge roast beef that he says will be black on the outside but blood rare inside, he has chosen two different reds -- Recanati Special Reserve 2005 and the Margalit Enigma of 2003.
"These are two heavy wines with just enough hint of sweetness in them to compliment the beef," he said.
Earlier this year in his tasting notes, he wrote of the full-bodied, dark garnet Recanati blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot had a nose filled with blackcurrant, blackberry and a hint of anise. He described Enigma as "rich, ripe and polished ... showing complex currant, plum and wild berry aromas and flavors".
To accompany a simple dessert, a pound cake or English cake, topped with homemade strawberry ice cream and whipped cream, he selected Carmel's late harvest Gewurztraminer, which he described as "off-dry, lively and well balanced with peach and apricot and citrus peel notes."
But the meal will not be complete until the cheese course. For that Rogov returned to France and will offer his guests Chateau de Laubade bas Armagnac, the 1965 and a Cuban cigar - a Montecristo Especial No. 2.