Friday, May 7, 2021

Drinking Serious Wine from Israel's Domaine du Castel and Eating Causal Israeli Food #WinePW

Domaine du Castel Grand Vin 2016 and Shakshouka

The #WinePW bloggers are invited by Wendy Klik from A Day in the Life on the Farm to write about pairing Middle Eastern foods and wines in May. I'm particularly thrilled that this invitation makes me break the seal of the Domaine du Castel Grand Vin 2016 Jerusalem - Haute Judee, a high-end wine that I thought I should reserve for special occasions. While the wine is serious, I want to prepare some causal food that I identify with Israel. Let's have a disclaimer upfront. What I do here is not so much about precise pairing the wine to the food per se, but if you are like me, eating the food, drinking the wine, not necessarily side-by-side, and repeat the sequence, I bet you'd have a lot of fun too.


Castel Grand Vin is Domaine du Castel’s first red wine. It is produced from the winery's 40 hectares estate situated at Yad Hashmona, west of Jerusalem. It's located at the renowned mountainous Judean Hills appellation with an altitude of 700 meters.
Castel Grand Vin 2016 (SRP$79)
The grapes, planted in high density and for small yields, are hand-picked at harvest and, after fermentation, are aged in new French oak for 20 months. The wines are estate-bottled to ensure quality and compliance with kosher requirements. 2016 was a perfect vintage, "where everything came nicely together… weather, phenolic maturation and bud size", which is a Wine Advocate quote from Domaine du Castel's owner Eli-Gilbert Ben-Zaken. 
Castel Grand Vin 2016: Cabernet Sauvignon 74%, Merlot 15% and Petit Verdot 11%
The clean oak smell of the Castel Grand Vin 2016 encapsulates the nostrils of the nose, shortly opening up to the fragrance of cedar. The palate features a concentrated and complex bouquet of blackberries, spices, and Bing cherries. The velvety smoothness still allows the tannin to peek through, leaving an extraordinarily balanced and sophisticated red wine drinking experience to reckon with. The taste of the wine was lifted if it is aired for half an hour. What a memorable wine it is that needs a WSET systematic analysis! 
Castel Grand Vin 2016 extracted through a Coravin
Appearance: deep ruby color
Nose: clean oaky, cedar 
Palate: dry, subtle oaked, blackberries, Bing cherries, spices, earthy, medium-bodied, medium-high tannin, long finish with hints of graphite and Bing cherry
Conclusions: smooth, elegant 


When I want to go easy on the food prep but don't want to detour from the Israeli theme, I think about Shakshouka, Dolma, and Tahini sauce. 
Shakshouka is a dish that poaches the eggs in the tomato sauce, with added ingredients such as chopped onion, red bell pepper, garlic, parsley, and spices such as cumin, chili powder, chili flakes, and paprika.

Shakshouka Recipe


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 chopped red onion
  • 1 chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes 
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flake
  • 3 eggs 

  1. Heat the olive oil in a wide saucepan over medium heat. Stir and cook in the garlic, onion, red bell pepper, spices until the onion and pepper have softened and turned translucent.
  2. Add the crushed canned tomatoes in the pan and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  3. Crack 3 eggs onto the simmering tomato stew and cook for another 10 minutes.
  4. Garnish with parsley and serve it with pita bread.

Castel Grand Vin and Dolmas

Trader Joe's Dolmas Vine Leaves Stuffed with Rice is my favorite dolmas as it's lemony but not overly harsh. The rice inside the dolmas is soft and juicy. Dolmas are the perfect finger food that retains their taste no matter how long they are left at the party table. 

Finally, I'm adding tahini (sesame seed paste) to my honey quick-oat smoothie for a cold dessert drink. The tahini sauce and blended oatmeal form a hearty drink that seems to help recover from hangover.

Tahini added to quick-oat smoothie

These Israeli foods may not pair side-by-side that cohesively with the wine. But if you follow the flow to have Shakshouka for breakfast, Dolmas for light lunch, tahini smooth for dessert, and intertwine Castel Grand Vin sipping in-between, I bet you'll have a super fun day of food and wine experience...anywhere you are.

For more Middle Eastern food and wine pairings, check out my #WinePW friends' blogs:


  1. I love shakshuka and the wine sounds truly amazing.

    1. Thank you Wendy for hosting the May event. It's definitely a fun theme. I was very obsessed with shakshuka in the past, eating it once a week. It is also such a healthy dish too!

  2. I purchased this bottle as well as I also did an Israeli wine. I am hooked on the food so I want to try out your meal now.

    1. Did you get the same vintage? I'd love to hear what you think about this wine. To be honest, my bottle is a gift from a dear friend. Very luck me!

  3. I absolutely love your description of the wine. "The velvety smoothness still allows the tannin to peek through..." such great language!

    1. Thank you so much. I do come up with good sentences every now and then, especially writing about wines and food.

  4. Pinny, What a fun wine and food day you put together. I've had that Grand Vin and it is a keeper. I had forgotten about Shakshuka and yours sounds delicious. I bet the tomato worked well with that wine. Cheers to you, Susannah

    1. Yes, nothing beats the Italian-certified San Marzano tomatoes. Doubling the price of regular canned tomatoes but there's no turning back. I'm glad you tried Castel Grand Vin before.

  5. Delicious food, delicious wine...I really want to try the Shakshuka, I watched contestants on Britain's Best Home Cook make it and was fascinated. How has this not already been in my life?

    1. Shakshuka is also such a healthy and easy dish that you can cook and eat everyday

  6. Wow! What a pairing. Thanks for sharing with the group this month.

  7. I love Shakshouka -- so hard to go wrong there! And the wine sounds beautiful and complex.

    1. Can eat Shakshouka anytime during the day.