- Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 April 2012 15:57
- Written by Phyllis Dreazen
- Category: The World of Wine by Dwight the Wine Doctor
This year Passover begins on Friday, April 6. Each participant at the Seder, the 15-part ritual retelling of the Exodus story, is mandated to drink four cups of wine, each a minimum of 3.0 fluid ounces. Because the first Seder is Friday night, the minimums increase to 3.3 and 4.42 fluid ounces. Even though children often have grape juice, the totals add up.
I retain happy, somewhat tipsy, memories of large Seders led by my cousin, the New York wine connoisseur: each cup was a timeout to discuss red, rose or white; vineyard and year. The nuns across the street, amazed at the number of bottles discarded in the trash bins, surely wondered what more was consumed the remaining days of the holiday. The investment was impressive.
Manischewitz (the only brand stocked at Whole Foods, Naperville) and Mogen David, the wines of my childhood, still exist. But as kosher wines have kept up with the world’s expanding wine consumption of the past decades, today there are kosher vineyards and wineries in all countries where wine is produced. They range from the simplest to those with 92 and 93 ratings from Robert Parker and Daniel Rogov. Even Israel–a country the size of New Jersey–offers more than 2000 different wines from 150 wineries.
The most popular wine, according the Juan Diaz, assistant store director at Jewel, remains Bartenura Moscato (the blue bottle on sale $10.99). Bargains include Kedem grape juice (64 ounce bottles, 2/$5), Rashi varieties (2/$7.00), Manischewitz ($4.99), Kedem ($4.99) and Kesser ($6.99). A large selection in the $10 to $20 range includes Barkan and Dalton. The high end is represented by Carmel ($59.99 to $79.99).
Although Kosherwine.com has a selection of bargain and reasonable/moderate wines––Reyes del Imperio Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon (Argentina $4.99), Gideon (Efrat, $7.99), Baron Herzon sweet Jeunesse Cabernet ($8.99) and choices under $10 from Emuna (Malbec and Tempranillo) and Mony (Elat, Emerald Riesling—it shows a preservative fizziness on opening; Masada, Rosh Hanikra)––at a recent tasting the emphasis was on the higher end, the best and the brightest.
The European food and wine expert E. Dragut, encountering kosher wines for the first time, accompanied me. The first wine tasted, Coupage (Bravdo $36.99; Rogov 93 rating) surprised him. A blend of Cabernet Franc (40%), Shiraz (33%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (27%), “It is almost a Bordeau,” he said. He was also impressed by Odem Mountain's Tigress and Lioness (bargains at $23.99). Tigress has plums and berries in the front, then dries towards the back of the palette; Lioness is the reverse.
A Merlot (Pardess, Hevron Heights, 2007, $29.99) was labeled a “kind” wine giving “a full experience” with tannins equal in the front, middle and back of the mouth. “Try this wine again after it has been open for a while,” advised Ruti Schvarcz, representative of New York based Happy Heart Wines. Sure enough, it tasted even better, its finish stronger. “This is a wine I would drink every day,” opined Dragut.
The most expensive wines––Carmel’s Limited Edition ($99.99) and Castel’s Grand Vin ($68.99)––were not the most satisfying for drinking now. Carmel’s Mediterranean ($56.99, 2007) was more inviting. It blends grapes that are less familiar (Carignan 37%, Shiraz 26%, Petit Verdot 20%, Petit Sirah 15%, Viognier 2%) for a pleasantly unusual taste. And Yatir’s full Viognier ($31.99; Rogov 92) is light gold, medium body, and has a great mouth fill.
My personal favorite is still Or Haganuz’s Har Sinai Red ($60.00) Ice Wine. This sweet wine’s grapes are frozen, heated, and aged outside for one year. Dragut also loved it. He says it reminds him of the liquid left in the bottom of fruit salad. Yum!
Whatever you choose: Have a wonderful Passover. l’chaim!