Well, fellow Israelites, our Festival of Freedom is upon us, and what better way to celebrate our Exodus from Egypt than with a plentiful bounty of fermented grapes, some from the Land of Milk and Honey itself? Now, Pesach is a time when wine truly takes center stage within the Sisterhood of Spirits. With the ancient Hebrews hurrying out of Egypt, there was little time for the breads they baked as provisions to rise, and thus we commemorate these events not only by not eating any leavened bread, but by not eating any leavened grain, or chametz, whatsoever.
Foods and drinks containing wheat, barley, rye, oats or spelt that were allowed a chance to leaven or ferment are strictly off-limits for Passover. That makes wine, oh glorious wine, not only acceptable on Passover, but a centerpiece of the Seder night(s), when we drink a minimum of four cups.
This ancient custom to drink four cups of wine while we recite the Haggadah leads many people to select lighter-bodied options. The list below of choices for your Seder table takes that into consideration.
What do I do? I make the opening Kiddush on a very special bottle. As with the first Kiddush blessing, there is the additional blessing of Shehechiyanu, in which we thank God for such special occasions, “for giving us life, sustaining us and enabling us to reach this season.”
As you look around your table and see the loving faces that gather together so infrequently, it becomes apparent that this is the time to open that bottle you’ve been storing so patiently. So, expert opinions aside, I choose whatever tickles my fancy for this extra-special occasion. You should, too.
In this Passover edition of The Kosher Decanter, we will skip the background, tasting notes and pairing suggestions and go straight to a selection of my 2019/5779 picks for your seder table. We will try to stick to wines readily available around town or online. This list is not intended to be all-inclusive. Consider it a good guide to inexpensive-to-moderately priced nice wines you would proudly serve your oenophile father-in-law. (Or, in the case of my father-in-law, to his know-it-all son-in-law.)
2016 Elvi Herenza Rioja Semi-Crianza ($12)
2014 Galil Mountain Winery Ela ($15)
2015 Terra di Seta Chianti Classico ($17)
2014 Elvi Herenza Rioja Crianza ($23)
2014 UVA Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ($23)
2014 Herzog Variations Four ($23)
2013 Terra di Seta Chianti Riserva ($28)
2017 Psagot Sinai ($18)
2016 Dalton Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($20)
2016 Herzog Lineage Cabernet Sauvignon ($16)
2016 Vitkin Petite Sirah ($33)
2015 Domaine Pradelle Crozes-Hermitage ($25)
2011 Domaine du Val Brun Saumer Champigny Bay Rouge ($23)
2018 Barkan Sauvignon Blanc ($9)
2017 O’Dwyers Sauvignon Blanc ($18)
2017 Pacifica Riesling ($18)
2017 Ramon Cardova Albarino Rias Baixas ($20)
2016 Hagafen Dry Riesling ($22)
2017 Tabor Adama Sauvignon Blanc ($18)
2014 Carmel Kayoumi Riesling ($22)
2018 Hagafen Sauvignon Blanc ($20)
2016 Herzog Russian River Chardonnay ($30)
I have yet to taste many of the 2018 batch of Rosés (for the most part, you should only be buying 2018 Rosé and not the old vintages distributors and stores are pushing out the door), but based on past results, and my belief that Rosé shouldn’t cost a fortune, I’d suggest:
2018 Les Lauriers des Baron Edmond de Rothschild Rosé ($17)
2018 Ramon Cardova Rioja Rosado ($10)
NV Elvi Cava Brut ($16)
2016 Val d’Oca Extra Dry Prosecco ($16)
2010 Yarden Blanc de Blanc ($25)
NV Drappier Brut Nature ($50)
Porto Cordovero Fine Ruby Port ($28)
Herzog Late Harvest Orange Muscat ($19)
As with all Jewish holidays, make certain to balance the wonderful abundance of food and drink with a proper amount of spirituality, singing, prayer and family.
A chag kasher v’sameach to all and may we celebrate next year in Jerusalem!
Dr. Kenneth Friedman is a Baltimore-born kosher wine aficionado/connoisseur. He is known for his unsolicited wine advice and runs many local kosher wine tastings.