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The Best Wines for Your Passover Seder

April 3, 2022 | by Tamar Genger MA, RD

Three wine sommeliers share their recommendations for the 4 cups of wine to serve on seder night.

After all the preparation for the Passover Seder is over, you might think the easiest part of the meal would be opening a bottle of wine. But for some of us, after the Four Questions comes the dreaded fifth… “Cabernet or Chardonnay?”

It's said of wine that it "gladdens the heart." In actuality, that's only sometimes true. Some people have a very difficult relationship with wine (and other drinks) and in those circumstances, it almost seems like the wine is the master and the drinker the servant. In that regard, wine becomes a fascinating metaphor for our relationship with whatever it is that controls us - our anger, our ego, our wallets, and so on. It's no coincidence that the Jewish tradition has codified the practice of holding a cup of wine when sanctifying most important occasions. The idea is that we should take hold of this metaphor of physicality and declare that it be used in the very best way - one that most imbues us with life, vitality, and true freedom. Each cup at the seder represents a deeper level of freedom and the more we are able to appreciate and incorporate its meaning the more gladdened our hearts will truly be.

To help us find the wine that will truly gladden each of our hearts, we invited three special guests to gather around our table to share their recommendations for the four wines to serve on Seder night.

Annie B. Shapero is the founder of Divino Bliss By The Glass a wine consulting company focusing primarily on the promotion and communication of wine, through live events and digital services, including video. Annie moved to New York after nearly a decade in Italy, where she worked as a food and travel writer and consultant. While there, she completed the rigorous training program at the Italian Sommelier Association. While in Rome Rome she launched and curated a wine column in the Rome publication of WHERE magazine, and continues to write about food, wine, and vineyards for a number of publications including Zagat, Insight Guides, Draft magazine, The American, and Haute Life Press, and Amex Essentials. “Considering the Passover seder goes on for quite a while and the traditional meal includes a variety of flavors and textures, it is a great opportunity to try different types of wine.”

Andrew Breskin is the founder and Sommelier of LiquidKosher, a boutique wine shop and club. Andrew started in the wine industry in 2002 and has been a Certified Sommelier since 2004. Since becoming kosher during this journey, Andrew has made it his work to find or create kosher wines that are on par with what the world is enjoying. His experience combines to pair the highest level of customer satisfaction with the finest wines the world has to offer, which happen to be kosher. His passion and appreciation have taken him around the world in the pursuit of sourcing the finest and most unique kosher wines. “My passion is taking the guesswork out of choosing the finest Kosher Wine. I love introducing my clients to some of the most amazing wines from around the world, without ever compromising on quality.”

Samara Kaufman-Waldman Born in California, Samara holds a degree in viticulture and oenology. Wine has been part of Samara’s life for more than 22 years, since she first worked as a bartender at a kibbutz hotel in Israel and spent time in the vineyards of the Judean Hills and the Galilee. She’s a Certified Sommelier and her passion is organic, biodynamic and natural wines. Since launching Cinagro Wine in 2016, she’s excited by every opportunity to create joyful, approachable and memorable tasting experiences and share her love of wine with others.

The selections by our panel of wine connoisseurs span the globe but feature Israeli wines heavily and reflect the incredible quality and diversity of kosher wines that are widely available. We hope you decide to enjoy some of these wines at your Seder and we would love to hear about what you are planning to serve for Passover.

First Cup

Annie: Freixenet Excelencia Brut Cava - Spain ($19)

I would start with a sparkling wine like a classic Spanish Cava or even Champagne. Freixenet is an iconic Cava producer for good reason. Their Kosher for Passover version of the classic method sparkler is a traditional blend of Parellada, Macabeo and Xarel·lo grapes aged on the lees for 10-14 months. It has light and lovely notes of toasted bread, brioche, and citrus.

Andrew: 2015 Echo Roses Camille - Bordeaux ($80)

From one of my favorite years of this vineyard, this wine is certainly among the best values in Bordeaux. Also, one of the best wines to age for the price. Always full of velvety elegance, this wine is characteristically aromatic with a distinct mineral flair. Pure opulence with silky, polished tannins give this wine a luxurious mouthfeel. An essential wine for Bordeaux die-hards and newcomers alike. You won't find someone who doesn't like this wine.

Samara: Dalton Pet Nat NV, Merom Hagalil - Israel ($40)

Pét-nat is an abbreviation for “pétillant naturel”, a French winemaking term that means “naturally sparkling.” A Pet Nat is made by bottling during the initial fermentation process, so no extra sugar or yeast is added, instead, the wine gets its bubbles from the naturally occurring sugars in the grapes. This blend of Semillon and Muscat is effervescent and bubbly on your palate with aromas of green apple, grapefruit and jasmine. Pet Nat is a lively wine that is perfect for bringing families and friends together. This wine will pair brilliantly with a rich fish dish as well as much of what is on your seder table.

Second Cup

Annie: 2020 Matar Sauvignon Blanc Semillon - Israel ($27)

A dry white blend. Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc is a classic white Bordeaux Blend. This one comes from Galilee, Israel and all of the citrus and snap of Sauvignon Blanc, plus ripe melon and some floral notes, plus a beautiful, mouthwatering lemony and mineral finish.

Andrew: 2019 Lahat Wines White Blend - Israel ($45)

Lahat LAVAN (Lahat White) is made from manually harvested Roussanne (75%), Viognier (18%), Sauvignon blanc (7%) grapes, picked towards the end of August. The grapes were cooled overnight and gently pressed in the morning. Only 'Free Run' juice was used in this winemaking process. After cold sedimentation, the juice was racked into five - 400 litre - oak barrels, one of which was new, specifically toasted for white wines and prolonged aging. This is consistently a lovely white wine, full of bright fruit flavors and a round, unctuous texture. Perfectly delightful now, and structured to age and develop in the cellar.

Samara: ​​2021 Covenant Wines Blue C Viognier - Northern Galilee, Israel ($27)

Viognier, which originated in the Rhone Valley of France, presents such a gorgeous expression in the Northern Galilee. Covenant's Blue C is barrel fermented in neutral oak barrels for textural richness without imparting any strong oak flavors. This wine leads with beautiful aromas of honeysuckle flowers and flavors of dried peach skin and tart apples. This wine will pair brilliantly with your charoset, many vegetable side dishes and any rich chicken or fish dish.

Third Cup

Annie: 2020 Gito Viognier - Mitzpe Ramon, Israel ($45)

A richly aromatic and sumptuous white wine, like Viognier. It can stand up to strong flavors and its silky sensation on the palate will balance out bitter herbs or the gamey aftertaste of lamb or slow-roasted brisket. I recommend this one from Israeli Winery, Mitzpeh Ramon. Gito Viognier is made from two separate harvests, the first from younger grapes to maintain acidity, and the second from a later harvest for fuller flavor, aroma, and a rounder texture from the ripe grapes.

Andrew: 2019 Ya’cov Oryah “The Human Touch” Red Blend - ISRAEL ($45)

An exciting, fresh blend from this exciting and cutting-edge winery. The 2019 Human Touch is a Grenache Syrah Mourvedre -based wine from Yoram Birch's vineyard in Moshe field, with Merlot growing under the hands of Ido Bar in the Upper Golan. Early harvest wine with fresh red fruit, supportive acidity, and medium body. Enjoy on its own or with casual fare, and raise your glass to the people behind the wine. This is a lovely Israeli red blend that is unlike any of the typical juicy Cabernets that most of us are used to. Not to be missed.

Samara: Gilgal Pinot Noir, Galilee, Israel ($20)

This terroir-driven Pinot Noir is incredibly polished and unique. To me, you can taste the land and soil of the Galilee in this wine. Unlike a Burgundy or Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, this wine has a bit more tannin and brambly wildness to it, which is what makes it so uniquely Israel! On the nose you can smell tart cherry, cassis and ripe raspberry. The palate expresses the iconic cherry notes you expect with Pinot Noir, but will surprise you with smoke, spice and hibiscus. Perfect with Brisket!

Fourth Cup

Annie: 2018 Gilgal Syrah - Golan Heights, Israel ($18) or 2020 Terra Vega Syrah - Chile ($12)

End the meal with a plush and complex red wine. There's likely to be meat on the table, Syrah-based blends are a perfect match for lamb, with their natural exotic spice notes that are often amplified by oak barrel aging.

Andrew: 2019 Chateau Castelbruck - Bordeaux ($70)

The 2019 vintage in Bordeaux comes on the heels of high quality vintages going back to 2015. The region is on a hot streak and we are taking full advantage. These wines have the ability to age for a decade and half without issue. But with the more advanced winemaking techniques as well as increased vineyard quality, many of the new series of high end Bordeaux such as this are able to be comfortably enjoyed on the sooner side as well. This Cabernet dominated blend is a snapshot of the pure fruit and elegant texture that makes the Margaux region so attractive.

Samara: 2017 Galil Mountain Ela Red Blend- Galilee Israel ($22)

A gorgeous, inspired blend of Barbera, Syrah, Grenache and Petit Verdot, Ela delivers on both strength and elegance. The delicate aromas of black cherry, oregano and roasted plum prepare your palate for the rich background notes of clove, coffee and browned butter. Ela has a gorgeous, long-lasting yet delicate finish. This wine would pair brilliantly with brisket, mushroom dishes and any tomato based side dishes. Just beautiful!!

Remember at your seder this year, think like a Rabbi, cook like a chef, and drink like a sommelier.

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