Passover Wine: What A Great Obligation!

The Passover celebration is an opportunity to enjoy fine wine. There is an obligation to drink four cups of wine during the Passover Seder – another reason “why this night is different from all other nights!”

A few of our favorites this year include:

Picking the right wine for your Passover Seder meal

Some people like to drink the traditional, ceremonial sweet kosher wine made from Concord grapes during the Seder. If that’s your preference, honor it. But if you are open to venturing beyond the traditional, Mollie Stone’s has a great selection of both Traditional and Modern Passover wines to pick from.

With the first two cups of wine at Seder, you eat matza and several symbolic foods placed on the Passover Seder Plate, including bitter herbs, haroset (a sweet paste of fruit and nuts), and vegetables dipped in salt water. An off-dry (slightly sweet) still and/or sparkling white winewould be ideal:

Chenin Blanc can be off-dry with fruit tastes of apples, pear, melons and apricots, and aromas of marzipan and straw flowers. Prosecco made with the Glera grape is a lightly sparkling low alcohol wine from Italy. It’s a sparkler which is always a bit celebratory, has the scent of flowers, delicate hints of honey, green apples and crabapples with some vegetal overtones. If it’s labeled Extra-Dry, it’s actually slightly sweet!

In between the second and third ceremonial cups of wine, a main meal is served. It traditionally starts with chicken soup and gefilte fish with horseradish. These pair best with a dry white still or sparkling wine:

Chenin Blanc also comes dry as a medium-high acid wine and has aromas of tart apple, pear, apricot and often with a creamy nutty nose and a honeyed finish. Sauvignon Blanc is a higher acid wine that has aromas of grapefruit, melon, pear and lemon, and sometimes with flavors of bell pepper and a steely finish.

The main course usually is roasted chicken, brisket of beef or roasted lamb along with potatoes, salads, and steamed or grilled vegetables. These pair best with several red wines:

Classic wine pairings with roasted chicken include Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. A Chardonnay would not only taste great but would go well with the celebration table, since white wine doesn’t stain as much as red if the kids spill a little. Chards have flavors of apples, pear, lemon/lime citrus, some tropical fruits, and often have oak aging influences of vanilla. Great Pinot Noirs have aromas of red fruits: cherry, raspberry with tea, earthy herbs, and oak aging adds smoke and sweet spice. It’s a very versatile wine.

If you serve Brisket of Beef or Roasted Lamb, classic wine pairings include Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which mostly have blackberry flavors; cassis, blueberry, some green herb, and coffee, chocolate and vanilla from oak aging.  Syrah (Shiraz), Petite Sirah and Zin often add to that, flavors of ripe blackberry, black pepper and herbal spices.

Want to learn more about kosher and Israeli wines? Keep reading.

What is kosher wine?

Wines are made kosher so that blessings can be made with/over them. The word “kosher” means “proper” or “correct.” Kosher wine laws are the oldest winemaking laws in the world. Kosher wines do not require Jewish-owned vineyards as all grapes are inherently kosher. Orthodox Kosher winemaking laws begin from when the grapes are crushed. All yeasts, filtering agents, or clarifying agents used must be certified as kosher. No milk or gelatin can be used for clarification. No artificial coloring or preservatives can be used. Kosher for Passover wine also must be made with a mold that has not been grown on bread. All barrels and equipment must exclusively be used for kosher wines and cleaned three times by steam cleaning. If a wine is certified as “kosher for Passover,” equipment must undergo special sanitizing procedures and can only by used for that purpose. To be sure a wine is Kosher for Passover, check for the label saying it is or for the “P” symbol. (Some wines are labeled Mehadrin which literally means beautified or embellished and indicates the most stringent level of kosher supervision.)

Also there are two classes of kosher wine: normal kosher and one of which goes through one extra process step call Mevushal (Hebrew for cooked and pronounced “meh-VOO-shul”). For a wine to be kosher, it must be created under a rabbi’s immediate supervision, with only Sabbath-observant Jewish males involved in the growing of the grapes, the winemaking process, and the serving of wine. For wine to be kosher when served by a non-Jew, it must first be made Mevushal, done by flash-pasteurization. Recent studies have show that modern mevushal processing does not even come close to the time and temperature threshold at which a wine drinker can perceive any difference in color, nose or taste of the wine.

A few facts about Israeli wine

Wine has been produced in the Land of Israel since biblical times. Its modern wine industry was founded by Baron de Rothschild, owner of the famous Bordeaux estate Chateau Lafite-Rothschild. Today, Israel has about 300 wineries and less than 15% of Israeli wine is produced from scaramental purposes, thus wine quality can be very high. In 2007, Robert Parker awarded 14 Israeli wines his highest wine rating of “outstanding.”

Israel has five recognized grape growing regions: Galilee & Golan Heights, two regions best for viticulture due to high elevation, cool breezes, large day and night temperature swings and well-drained soils; the Judean Hills, surrounding Jerusalem, between the Judean Hills and the Coastal Plain; the Negev, a semi-arid desert region; and the Sharon Plain near the Mediterranean coast and south of Haifa, which is the largest growing region.

Get all of your Passover food staples at Mollie Stone’s Markets or order delivery to your door through Instacart.

Be sure to share your favorite Passover recipes and drinks with us in the comments below! Don’t forget to share your photos with us by posting onto our Facebook page or using the hashtag #CelebratingWithMollies on Instagram or Twitter.

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Happy Passover!