All the best holidays revolve around food. Case in point: Passover. Not only is Passover a celebration of religious freedom, but it also involves a huge meal. And a lot of wine – you’re supposed to drink four glasses of it over the course of the seder, after all.
That means there are plenty of opportunities for wine pairings. For instance, aside from the specialties on the seder plate, my family is going to be enjoying matzo ball soup (I make them myself!), mom’s beef brisket and matzo kugel.
Whether or not you’re keeping kosher for Passover, why not make things interesting and get some kosher wines for your seder? To be kosher, a wine must have been handled throughout the entire winemaking process from crush to bottling by Jews who are observant of the Sabbath. Also, any equipment used to make the wine must be used solely for kosher winemaking. Grapes can be picked by anyone, though, and after the wine has been bottled and sealed, anyone can handle it. Once you open the bottle, though, again it has to be touched and served only by a Sabbath-observant Jew in order to remain kosher.
Passover requires going even a step further than that and keeping wine free from contact with what’s known as chametz – things like wheat, rye or any leavened products made from them – that Jews are not supposed to eat during Passover.
So though we’ve now narrowed the field to specially kosherized wines, it doesn’t mean all that’s left is Manischewitz. Quite the contrary. Over the past decade or so, wineries all over the world have embraced the idea of making kosher wines, and today there are more (and better) kosher wines available than ever. Here are a few you can try this Passover (note: all are kosher, but some are not specially so for Passover).
Laurent-Perrier Brut: Laurent-Perrier is one of the most well-known and respected names in Champagne, but did you know they actually make some kosher versions of their sparkling wines as well? Start your seder off with a toast with one of them like this lovely brut, which is fresh and well balanced.
Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2014: Start out your main meal light with this crisp New Zealand Sauv Blanc. It’s got those signature Marlborough aromas of fresh-cut grass and tart tropical flavors.
Yardem Odem Chardonnay 2013: Yarden is among Israel’s most respected wineries, and this Chardonnay is proof why. Produced from organically grown grapes, it is complex and creamy with hints of pear and citrus. Try it with your matzo ball soup.
Carmel Kayoumi Shiraz 2010: Grown in the Upper Galilee, the grapes for this wine display lovely dark berry flavors of cassis and blackberry as well as interesting secondary flavors like coffee and a smoky dash of black pepper. Have it with your heavier dishes.
Castillo de Sajazarra Herenza Crianza 2008: This gorgeous Rioja winery might be in a 700-year-old fortress, but their line of kosher wines is a much newer venture and rather unique for Spain. This red is made of 100% tempranillo and displays lots of luscious berry notes and soft tannins from oak aging. Perfect for that brisket.
For more ideas and selections, check out this great site called KosherWine.com, and be sure to pick up some extra to leave for Elijah!