Wine is essential to Passover, when Jewish people around the world gather with family and friends to recount the story of the Exodus from Egypt and share a festive meal. It is customary for all (adults) to drink four cups of wine at the Seder. That’s a lot of wine for one meal!
This year Passover begins on the night of April 19, which is somewhat later than usual. But it’s great news for wine lovers, according to Royal Wine’s PR Director, Gabriel Geller. In the runup to Passover 2019, Geller recommends new bottlings to explore for the “Feast of Freedom” – the commemoration of the redemption of the Jewish people, some 3,500 years ago, from centuries of slavery in Egypt. His suggestions pair exceptionally well at the Seder table or any other special occasion, and run the gamut of varieties and price points.
According to Geller, some outstanding new 2018 rosé wines were released in time for Passover 2019, and the new vintage is promising. “I enjoy starting the Seder with a glass of cold, fresh rosé, so the timing is perfect.”
Smooth and easy to drink, rosés are best consumed young and fresh. He cites the Herzog Lineage Rosé from Clarksburg, CA (SRP $19.99) as a delicious, fruity, and herbal complement to light starters. Other good bets include Gush Etzion and Flam(SRP $24.99 and 34.99 respectively). These wineries, both located in Israel’s Judean Hills, were among the first out of the gate with their new rosés this year.
“As soon as the main course is served,” Geller said, “I will typically move on to a more multi-layered wine such as the Carmel Limited Edition 2014 (SRP $79.99), a Bordeaux-style blend from Israel.” Also of note is Domaines Rollan de By, owned by Jean Guyon. The extravagant designer just released the first-ever new kosher run from his estates: Chateau de By Medoc 2016 (SRP $27.99). “Well-balanced and medium-bodied, this Bordeaux from an exceptional vintage is silky in the mouth and pairs well with many types of dishes, claims Geller. “It would be a good choice for the Passover Seder.”
Lineage Choreograph a field blend of more than a dozen different grapes comes from an experimental plot on the Herzog estate vineyard — the wine is soft and inviting while at the same time complex and flavorful, and very reasonably priced (SRP$20.00)
Herzog Wine Cellars also recently released Herzog Special Reserve Quartet 2015, a blend of varieties grown in prime regions of California. The wine, as its name indicates, comprises 4 grape varieties: Malbec, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. Full-bodied, rich, complex, and spicy, it impresses with its remarkable balance, while showcasing the unique characteristics of each variety (SPR: $39.99).
Geller also noted that Italian wines have been gaining in popularity among kosher consumers. Wine Spectator recently awarded the Terra di Seta Chianti Classico Riserva (SRP $34.99) an impressive 93 points. Now that the 2013 has made its way to the shelves, Geller predicted that this superior vintage will outperform its predecessor.
A long meal such as the Passover Seder also requires some fine dessert wine to end the night on a sweet note. Chateau Guiraud, which was absent from the kosher scene since 2001, recently made a comeback with two new wines available for the first time in a kosher version.
G de Guiraud 2017 (SRP $39.99) is a satisfying, dry blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, while the chateau’s second Sauternes, Petit Guiraud 2017, is a luscious, wonderful dessert wine (SRP $74.99). Herzog Late harvest Orange Muscat2018 – don’t be fooled by this wine’s orange tinge and floral near orange aromas. Its 100% Orange Muscat Grape has great lively acidity and sweetness, all rolled into this floral, long-lasting luscious wine (MSRP $22.99).
New Kosher for Passover Spirits:
· Hacienda de Chihuahua Sotol Anejo
Sotol is from the northern state of Chihuahua in Mexico. Sotol is not made out of Blue Agave like tequila, but Dasylirion wheeleri, otherwise known as Desert Spoon, or Sotol in Spanish (My wife translated that for me).
This Anejo Sotol is rich and smoky with slight hints of Grapefruit.
· Hacienda de Chihuahua Sotol Reposado
Like a typical Reposado from Mexico this is aged only for 6 months. A special uniqueness to Sotol is the oak used for ageing the product is Virgin oak unlike tequila which does used bourbon barrels. The fresh oak gives added tannins and spice to this tasty item.
· Zachlawi Dry Arak
Arak, which means perspiration in Arabic, is the spirit drink of choice in the countries of the middle east. Abe Shrem, founder of Zachlawi, brought his family’s old Syrian recipe back to life here in the USA. Bold Anise aromas shine through with delicious licorice finish.
· Elite Arak
Elite Arak is one of the leading Israeli producers of this centuries-old spirit. Every Friday afternoon, a day off for many Israelis, men and women sit outside together with friends while sipping a cold shot of Elite Arak.
· Alouf Arak
The most popular Arak in Israel, Alouf Arak is silky smooth with notes of sweet anis and fig.
· Godet Fine de Cognac
A wonderful blend of eau-de-vie from the Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne growing regions. These two growing regions have very chalky soil which helps to make a very aromatic eau-de-vie, which is distilled to make this special cognac.
What Makes Kosher Wine Kosher:
There’s a common ‘urban legend’ that wine is rendered kosher after being blessed by a Rabbi – that is incorrect. Actually, for a wine to be made kosher there are strictly supervised purity guidelines that need to be followed from the moment the grapes enter the winery to when the wine is bottled.
To be considered kosher, Sabbath-observant Jews must supervise and sometimes handle the entire winemaking process, from the time the grapes are crushed until the wine is bottled. Any ingredients used, including yeasts and fining agents must be kosher.
Some Kosher wines are processed as Mevushal, which means ‘cooked’ in Hebrew. Some wineries produce their Mevushal wines by heating the must (grape juice) prior to fermentation, while others apply that procedure on the final product, prior to bottling.
When kosher wine is produced, marketed and sold commercially, it will bear kosher certification granted by a specially-trained rabbi who is responsible for supervision from start to finish.
About Royal Wine/Kedem
Founded in 1848, NJ-based Royal Wine Corp. has been owned and operated in the United States by the Herzog family, whose winemaking roots go back eight generations to its origin in Czechoslovakia.
Today,Royal Wine’s portfolio of domestic and international wines range from traditional wine producing regions of France, Italy and Spain, as well as Israel, New Zealand and Argentina.
Additionally, Royal Wine Corp.’s spirit and liqueur portfolio offer some of the most sought-after scotches, bourbons, tequilas and vodkas as well as hard to find specialty items such as flavored brandies and liqueurs.
The company owns and operates the Kedem Winery in upstate New York, as well as Herzog Wine Cellars in Oxnard, California, a state-of-the-art-facility featuring guided wine tours, a fully staffed modern tasting room, gift shop and catering facilities. Additionally, the winery houses the award-winning restaurant Tierra Sur, serving the finest, Mediterranean-inspired, contemporary Californian Cuisine.
Photos: Courtesy of the wine companies