Top Wine Destinations in Jerusalem
By Eliana Rudee
Still haven’t gotten your fix of wine post-Jerusalem wine festival? Neither have we. Not to worry! Jerusalem’s wine scene is growing and offering more selection than ever before. Here are our top choices of wine bars to suit any budget and style:
Wadi Katlav at Red and White | © Eliana Rudee
The Kosher Newbie: Red and White
8 Shlomo Hamelech
Jerusalem’s new Red and White wine bar, directly across the street from Mamilla Hotel, may be geared towards the hotel crowd, but Jerusalemites must not miss out on this gem of a wine bar. Red and White is the perfect wine bar for an intimate and quiet setting “One visitor told me that she had one of the deepest conversations she has ever had here,” said Red and White owner, Mark. Mark, an oleh from the United States, opened his new wine bar and store to bring the best of boutique Israeli wines to your palate. Along with his featured kosher wines, Mark can suggest cheeses from the Golan-based Naomi Farm and a selection of food pairings, such as pecan encrusted salmon, ginger soy marinated tuna, and a melt-in-your-mouth cheesecake to finish. For a finer wine, try the 2012 Wadi Katlav wine– its sweet tobacco flavor and soft vanilla spice aftertaste is likely to pleasure any palate.
Talbiye’s bar and risotto| © Eliana Rudee
The Foodie: Talbiye
It is truly a challenge to decide which is better: Talbiye’s extensive wine list or its Jerusalem inspired cuisine. One of five Jerusalem restaurants owned by the Machneyuda Group, Talbiye features small dishes paired with an enormous selection of high-end wine from all over the world- of course, Israeli wines are the specialty. Talbiyeh works with wineries around the country, such as Clos de Gat and Pelter Winery. Unlike other wine bars, the food (non-kosher) is anything but an afterthought, Chef Nir Levi stresses. Machneyuda Group’s chefs, all from Jerusalem, have been trained all over the world to bring new techniques to Jerusalem-style cuisine. The local ingredients help to create a mix of international cultures, Sephardi and Ashkenazi, so representative of Jerusalem itself. Influenced by the French Brasserie, Talbiye is a quiet spot with a contemporary-chic atmosphere emphasized by the background jazz music and laid back, friendly wait staff. Every dish and wine is “made from the heart” so you cannot go wrong. Ask for a dish like the lentil risotto, and pair it with Clos de Gat’s Chanson Blanc 2015, a Chianti from Tuscany, Chablis wine from Burgundy, a Portuguese white, or any of Talbiye’s fresh and fruity Israeli wines.
Wine Bar on Azza| © Jerusalem Foodie/Trip Advisor
The Deal: Wine Bar on Azza (from the machaneyuda group)
Wine Bar, or יין בר, is the Machneyuda Group’s only non-kitchen enterprise, featuring a selection of well-priced wine and cheese pairings. The idea for Bar Yayen originates from the classic Italian wine bar, complete with aperitivos, cheese plates, and Israeli wines. Even though the bar is quite new, a young Israeli crowd fills the outside seating nearly every evening. The buzzing Azza Street acts as a hip backdrop to the dynamic bar. The Italian influence works well with Israeli culture, as guests are encouraged to stay and schmooze over a glass or two. With wines for less than 40 NIS and cheese plates for less than 20 NIS, Wine Bar a great go-to for any budget. “Great wines are new in Israel,” says partial-owner Nir Levi. “Before, Israelis didn’t know about wine and they were used to Kiddush wine like Manishevetz. Now, people are learning to drink wine, love wine, and are not afraid to open their wallets if they know what they will get.”
As Israel’s vineyards and wineries flourish, Jerusalem continues to attract a young, cultured, and international crowd. Such are perfect conditions for a thriving wine scene, sure to expand in the coming years. Wine lovers, start at these bars and you are sure to be inspired until next year’s Jerusalem Wine Festival comes around.
Eliana Rudee is a fellow with the Haym Salomon Center and the author of the “Aliyah Annotated” and “Israel Girl” column for JNS.org. She is a graduate of Scripps College, where she studied international relations and Jewish studies. Her bylines have been featured in USA Today, Forbes, and The Hill. Follow her column on JNS.org.