Passover already? Uh-huh, yep! You may think you’re not ready, but just think about it this way: what could possibly be better than a holiday dedicated to wine. Even though not yet as reliable as death and taxes, every April you can count on being inundated with countless Passover-themed articles recommending a number of kosher wines just in time for the holiday. With nearly the same level of certainty, the vast majority of these will mention Manischewitz and marvel at how far kosher wine has come. “Tasty kosher wine” is not an oxymoron.
Sure, kosher wine has long been associated with Manischewitz, the extraordinarily sweet and syrupy Passover staple. No one should be forced to drink four thimbles of it, much less the four cups required for each Seder.
Let me try to make things a little easier this year with four tips on how to choose the perfect kosher wine for Passover and a few recommendations for your Seder.
Wines from the Homeland
If tradition is of paramount importance at your Seder dinner, no problem–here are some phenomenal kosher wines made in Israel that can also be purchased in America.
The Deccolio Prosecco (winery) was a kosher sparkling wine from Italy that is perfect for both the kosher and non-kosher bubbly fan. It was light golden yellow with a lot of good bubbles. Both on the noise and in the mouth, this sparkler had a lot of Granny Smith apples, oranges, and hints of white flowers and honey. It’s simple, food-friendly, and refreshing, and won’t break the bank.
Another unique option is made at the Rimon Winery, which makes the region’s truly unique Pomegranate Dessert Wine. It’s not a gimmick, much as it may look and sound like one. The wine has a dark, black cherry color and overt notes of pomegranate. Rimon has been a crowd-pleaser many a Passover Seder and non-Passover dinner party alike.
The Ben Ami Chardonnay (snooth) is also from Israel and made with 100% Chardonnay grapes. It has a medium lemon-yellow color. This wine is all about tropical fruits—pineapple, guava, and hints of nectarine and lime on the nose with pineapple, honeydew and hints of lime, guava, and mango in the mouth. The wine has a medium body and bright acidity that will make for a nice pairing with roasted chicken and mashed potatoes.
Another great white is The Flam Blanc (winery, snooth) also made in Israel white wine blend has hints of limes, pineapples, and Granny Smith apples. This wine has a lighter body then the Ben Ami Chardonnay and high acidity. It’s a fantastic food wine, just begging to be paired with a turkey dinner, but would also be nice with matzo balls or kugel.
One great Israeli red wine producer is Dalton, located in the lush Upper Galilee. An ultra-modern winery (in what looks like an office complex akin to rows of garagiste wineries in the central coast of California, where multiple wineries share single, vast warehouses), Dalton makes a great-value Bordeaux-style called Canaan Red.
If your looking for a more lavish red wine that will wow any of your guests try out the Gva’ot Masada which is the epitome of a special occasion wine, and I’m in love it. This wine as all about blackberries, blackcurrants, and dark plums mixed with a smokey earthiness, and the slightest touches of dark chocolate, thyme, and blueberries. It’s full-bodied with grippy tannins. with a medium-to-full body and nice tannins. This is a seductive wine that lingers in the mouth, calling for great food, conversation, and another sip.
And a bonus: Distillery 209
A kosher for Passover gin that is smooth and silky. “Perfect for unwinding after a long evening of singing and eating with relatives…”
Question of the Day: If you celebrate Passover, have you picked out your wines? What are you planning on serving? And, where do you tend to buy your kosher wines?