By Anna Harwood
As a new immigrant to Israel, one often diverges from the cleverly laid-out career path one planned upon graduation from college. Learning Hebrew is often the first reality check, followed by confronting the disparity between career opportunities in Israel and abroad. Living in Israel involves learning a degree of flexibility, opening your eyes to new opportunities, and drawing on hidden talents to forge exciting new possibilities. And that is how this aspiring psychologist came to write about wine.
My first exposure to the magnitude of the Israeli wine industry was at the Israeli Wine Festival, which takes place annually at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Thousands of revelers gathered in the museum grounds to sample upwards of 60 Israeli wineries’ best wines. The choice was staggering and, while after a certain point one Cabernet tasted very much like another, I was hooked. The Israeli wine industry beckoned.
As much as promoting Israeli wine seemed a lot of fun, it was never a serious career ambition. That was until I began working in PR and Israel Hasbara. Writing about Israel and its fabulous attributes often gets stalled by the unstable political climate. While world opinion has fluctuated and international support waned, the Israeli wine industry is going from strength to strength under the leadership of its top wineries, which are now pulling in the awards year after year.
And so, despite beginning the arduous journey to becoming a clinical psychologist, this olah is continuing to champion Israeli wine and most definitely continuing to mix work and pleasure.
In preparation for Chanukah, bakeries have begun competing as to who can produce the juiciest, most creative doughnuts and Jerusalem’s streets are now decked with luminous menorahs. As I am in the midst of the first semester of a challenging degree, I have not had much time to think about celebrations but—never one to miss a good opportunity to pop open a bottle—next week I shall be hosting a Chanukah Hot Wine party for friends.
I reminisce back to my high school days in London, when the whole family would trek on a Saturday night to watch the school firework display. We would arrive and be greeted by the sounds of fireworks whizzing above us and the comforting smell of steaming hot, mulled wine filling the air.
Mulled wine dates back to Greek and Roman times when herbed, spiced, and sweet wines were a favorite treat. Throughout European history, in countries where winter brings a cold chill, there has been a tradition of making hot spiced and often strong wines. Some recipes that have been unearthed date from as early as the 14th century. All recipes have a base of a light dry red wine to which sugar (or in some cases honey) is added. This mixture is complemented by spices like cinnamon and cloves, as well as citrus fruits, which vary from country to country.
As an observant Jew, I was never able to drink this traditional delicacy but, as the memories of bygone days flood back each year, I have discovered that it really is very simple to make at home. In England, claret (Bordeaux wine) was traditionally used, but the kosher variety closest in taste is the Mount Hermon Red which is readily available from kosher wine suppliers in the U.S. v
¾ cup of white sugar
peel of 1 lemon
large pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
5 whole cloves
1 stick of cinnamon
4 cardamom pods
A little piece of peeled fresh ginger can be added to the pan if desired
2 bottles of Mount Hermon Red wine
Place the sugar in a saucepan and heat on a very low heat.
Peel the orange and lemon and add peels to the pan. Juice the orange and add juice to the pan, together with the nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger (if desired).
Stir in enough of the wine to cover the sugar, and then bring to a boil. Boil for a couple of minutes, until you have syrup, and then turn down the heat before adding the rest of the wine.
Gently heat for around 5 minutes. When the wine is warm and a delicious aroma fills the kitchen, strain, ladle into glasses, and serve.