Two Fisted Wine Pairing with Yarden Wines #WinePW

Yarden Wines Discovery with Wine Pairing Weekend
Thanks to Yarden Wines, our Wine Pairing Weekend blogging group is discovering wines from Israel in an extra-credit session for May (we usually meet on the 2nd Saturday). Each of our bloggers received two bottles of wine from one of Yarden Wines labels, and we all took the opportunity to pair them with food. Scroll to the bottom of this post for a dozen other impressions of the wines and recipe ideas!

Israel wine map courtesy of

Wines of Israel
Records and remnants of ancient winemaking equipment show that wine was being made in the region that is Israel today 8,000-10,000 years ago. The wines were exported and well known in Rome. However, the grapevines were destroyed and wine was no longer made while the region was under Islamic rule starting around 700 AD. In the 1880’s Jews living in the region re-started grape growing and wine making with the help of Baron von Rothschild. They primarily produced kosher wines for customers in Jewish communities. The modern era of winemaking began in the 1960’s as interest increased and wineries found they could make excellent wines for a broader market.

Because Israel’s latitude is at the far southern limit for grape growing, the vineyards are all located at high altitude, where cooler temperatures and larger day-night temperature differences provide excellent conditions.

Yarden Wines
Yarden Wines is the US import business subsidiary of the Golan Heights and Galil Mountain wineries. As part of the modern Israeli wine industry, Golan Heights Winery was established in 1983, and today thery are among the leaders in the Israeli wine industry.

Some information on the Golan Heights vineyards from the Yarden Wines:

“The Galilee or Galil is the most northern and generally considered the best appellation in Israel. The highest quality area within the appellation is the Golan Heights or simply the Golan the coldest region in Israel. The vineyards on this volcanic plateau rise from 400 meters (1300 feet) above sea level to 1200 meters (3900 feet) and receive snowfall in the winter. Golan Heights Winery is located in the town of Katzrin in the central Golan.”

Of interest for some, all these wines are labeled Kosher!

For more information:

Disclosure: the wines in this post were provided as media samples. All opinions expressed are mine.

Yarden Wines Golan Heights Winery Merlot

Yarden Golan Heights Winery Merlot Galilee (sample, $31 SRP or online here) 14.5% abv
From the winery: “The grapes for this wine are grown in certified sustainable vineyards in the Golan Heights. The wine is aged in French oak barrels, 40% new, for 18 months.”

Eye: Clear, medium ruby color.
Nose: Clean, pronounced intensity aromas of deep blue/black fruits: fresh ripe blueberries, blackberries, plums. Toasty vanilla and caramel are on par with the fruit. There is a touch of green pepper far in the background, intriguing and nice to see.
Mouth: Dry, pronounced intensity, medium acidity, medium plus fine grained ripe tannins, full body with plush texture, high alcohol, and a long finish.
Conclusion: Very well done in an international style. Closer in style to California than to Bordeaux although they didn’t shy away from that touch of green pepper that Merlot should exhibit but seems to be erased in the new world.

Yarden Wines Golan Heights Winery Sauvignon Blanc

Yarden Golan Heights Winery Sauvignon Blanc Galilee (sample, $20 SRP or online here) 13.5% abv
From the winery: “The 2019 Yarden Sauvignon Blanc is made solely from Sauvignon Blanc fruit grown in vineyards on the cool northern Golan Heights. A small portion of the wine was fermented in French oak barrels adding a bit of body and complexity.”

Eye: Clear, pale lemon
Nose: Clean, medium intensity aromas of bright fresh lemon and grapefruit, bright garden herbs tarragon, jalapeno pepper, stony, crushed limestone.
Mouth: Dry, medium intensity flavors, medium plus acidity, medium plus body, medium alcohol, plush texture to balance the acidity, and a medium plus finish.
Conclusion: A very enjoyable Sauvignon Blanc, familiar yet unique. Shows its Sauvignon Blanc character with the citrus fruits and green/herbal notes. Not so over the top grassy as something from New Zealand, from a bit cooler climate than California, perhaps warmer than the Loire valley. Very nicely done.

A Meal for Merlot AND Sauvignon Blanc
I wanted to serve both wines with a single meal, but they have such different personalities. Sauvignon Blanc loves herbal, green items with plenty of mouthwatering acidity. Merlot is a plush, generous red that is very flexible with a wide variety of meats. I ended up with my “two fisted” pairing idea. The Sauvignon Blanc and the tabbouleh are a wonderful match; each better for the other. The Merlot loved the grilled, mustard chicken and onions. Each wine was ok with the cross-pairing, but not exceptional. So, serve two glasses at each plate and you’re all set!

Great Wine Pairing Ideas with Yarden Wines

Take a look below, our wine pairing weekend buddies have some great ideas to try with Yarden Wines. Why not join our conversation on Saturday, May 23 10:00-11:00am CDT? Just look us up at #WinePW on Twitter and jump in the chat!

Grilled Spatchcock Chicken with Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

The instructions below are based on a recipe from Simply Ancient Grains by Maria Speck. We love this cookbook year-round for flavorful ways to break out of the “potatoes and vegetable” rut. Note that the leftover salad is good for 2-3 days after the meal.

Spatchcock Chicken
You’ll find lots of spatchcock chicken recipes on the internet. In short, you cut out the backbone with a sturdy set of kitchen shears, then you flatten out the whole bird. This speeds the cooking on the grill. We simply salted the bird and slipped a bit of dijon mustard between the flesh and the skin. Sear both sides of the chicken over direct heat on the grill, about 5 minutes per side, then reduce the heat or move to indirect cooking and pull the chicken off when the center of the breast and the deep thigh read 160F.

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

  • 3/4 cup (dry) tri-color quinoa, cooked to package directions and cooled (3 cups cooked)
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups firmly packed chopped arugula
  • 2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 serrano pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)


  • Combine the onion, vinegar and salt in a small bowl and set aside
  • Combine the quinoa, arugula, tomatoes, serrano pepper in a large bowl
  • Whisk the mustard and black pepper in with the onion mixture, then slowly whisk in the oil.
  • Combine the dressing with the quinoa mixture and mix lightly. Refrigerate at least 1/2 hour before the meal.

10 Responses to “Two Fisted Wine Pairing with Yarden Wines #WinePW”
  1. I love that plate and the sound of the cookbook! Branching out with the side dishes is a good idea, especially with a familiar / easy main dish. This Sauv Blanc sounds similar to the one I tried, I like this style.

  2. Deanna says:

    I really like the use of quinoa instead of bulgur for the tabouleh. Makes for a great gluten free and high protein salad. Also find the use of dijon mustard in the dressing a bit untraditional. However, the pairings of this meal with the wine sound like something I should try right now!

    • I’m a big quinoa fan especially in these ancient grains salads. I know dijon mustard would be a scarce commodity in the Mid-east, but it was good in the dressing!

  3. I also opened the Yarden Golan Heights Winery Sauvignon Blanc and found it to my liking. I think you really nailed its style – not as grassy as NZ, somewhere between Loire Valley and California. Definitely a wine I’d buy!

  4. Love the one dish serving two purposes. Great to read of some other wines of the country. Great overview and thanks for organizing it.

  5. Nicole Ruiz Hudson says:

    Thanks for arranging Jeff. I had a lot of fun with the topic. Your pairings look delicious as always.

  6. Payal Vora says:

    This was a fun one, thanks Jeff! Your food pairings look terrific as always!

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