Contrary to popular belief, Israeli wine is not the same as kosher wine (although it can be). Israeli wines are made mostly from French variety grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and Chardonnay along with other varietals such as Syrah, Riesling, and Gewurztraminer. Israel has five wine producing regions: Galilee, Samson, Negev, Judean Hills, and Shomron. Each of these regions produce distinctive wines because of Israel's varied terroirs, which include deserts, coastal plains, and mountainous areas. Over the past 10 to 20 years, Israeli wines have gained in popularity among wine critics and enthusiasts, due to improvement in quality and production. Today, Israeli wines may be slightly difficult to find in your local liquor or grocery store, but many wine shops carry a small selection. You can also find a larger selection online for purchase.
Wines to try: Meishar Merlot 2005 and Somek Chardonnay 2005
Wines made from grapes in China date back to over 4,500 years ago, but they are just now getting noticed. Most of the wine produced in China is also consumed in China, but they are slowly becoming available in the United States and Canada. China has many different climates, from very dry and humid to very wet and cold, so each wine is incredibly unique. China's wines feature Cabernet Sauvignon, Muscat, Riesling, Merlot, and some lesser known grapes, like Saperavi and Carignan. Finding Chinese wines in the United States may be a bit of a scavenger hunt for now, but they are going the way of Chilean and Australian wines, meaning over the next few years quality Chinese red, white, and sparkling wines will be readily available to buy.
Wines to try: Dynasty Dry White Wine Seven Year Reserve and Dragon Seal Syrah
Japan has the potential for a strong wine market as the Japanese wineries continue to improve on quality and production. The Japanese have actually created their own wine grape that adapts better to the variable climate of Japan. The Muscat Bailey-A grape varietal makes wines that taste similar to grape juice and is often used to make sweeter wines. This grape is typically mixed with other grapes to produce more classic tasting wines that mirror Burgundy and Bordeaux. Japanese wine is typically made to complement Japanese cuisine and most of the better wineries succeed in this. Japanese wines however are fairly acidic and can have a very fruity flavor, but that is what makes them so novel to drink.
Wines to try: Chateau Mercian Merlot Nagano 1999 and Tamba Chardonnay
Though Mexico is most popularly known for tequila production, the country has many regions that produce quality red and white wines. Because most of Mexican climates are hot and humid, the wines are typically full-bodied and can even be spicy. Grapes, such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Tempranillo, and Syrah, thrive in Mexican weather. Over the past few years, wine consumption of native wines in Mexico has spread widely, especially in tourist areas, which has given motivation to Mexican wineries to produce great tasting quality wines. Mexico also produces some interesting sparkling wines, like Freixenet, which tend to be drier.
Wines to try: Bodegas Ferrino de Cuatro Cienegas Niebles Blanco and Casa Madero Cabernet Sauvignon 1999.
India is best known for producing Shiraz, Zinfandel, and Sauvignon Blanc varietals along with several grapes that are indigenous to India. Most of India is not well suited to grow grapes, but there are many regions that have a fairly temperate climate that is excellent for growing wine grapes. Many Indian wines, both red and white, pair well with the spiciness of Indian cuisine, especially curries. The most popular Indian wine producing region is Nashik, which is beginning to gain recognition among the wine world. Be on the lookout for wines from India over the next few years as they begin to gain popularity throughout the world.
Wines to try: Sula Rasa Shiraz 2007 and Sula Sauvignon Blanc
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