A Religious Experience: The Rise of Quality Kosher-For-Passover Wine

Kosher JuiceIf you had approached me 15 years ago about a recommendation for a fine kosher wine, I would have told you it’s an oxymoron. Much like the organic wines of the time, kosher and Kosher-for-Passover wines had a poor reputation for quality, approachability and age-ability. One main issue that kept kosher wines out of the spotlight was the stylistic model of the day….most of them were creamy, frameless, sacramental wines which were heavily sweetened with corn syrup, and made from grape varieties more appropriate for eating than for viticulture (Manischewitz, anyone?). Even the kosher dry dinner wines of the time lacked sophistication and nuance, possibly the result of the mevushal process of cooking the wine during production to honor Jewish kosher laws.

A Vinous Awakening

On board with the recent global modernization of winemaking are many kosher producers, whose wines today more resemble the premium non-kosher wines of their regions than ever before, with Israel leading the pack. The cultivation of appropriate vinifera grape varieties, the desire to capture a sense of terroir, and the inclusion of tannic/acid structure in the wines has catapulted the category into the mainstream. The result: a whole new market has been established for kosher-for-Passover wines in the US, and each new Passover season features the unveiling of the latest and greatest. Our strategic partner Suburban Wines & Spirits has been ahead of this trend, seeking out Israel’s best Kosher-for-Passover wines since the days when it was a laborious task. You can find the following exceptional selections on their website, and if you act fast, can find them at your doorstep before Passover.

Mt Tabor Chardonnay ’12 ($14)

Made from fruit grown on 3 estate vineyards in Galilee with compositions similar to the great vineyards of Burgundy, this Chardonnay impresses with its clean, crisp delivery. No oak, no butter; just steely, structured Chard that pops on the palate.

Ugav Cabernet Sauvignon ’11 ($15)

Dark and dense, plummy and chewy, here’s a Cabernet that delivers all the body and sophistication of a Californian or Argentine version, but with its own sense of place. Clove and cola notes add complexity. This will play nicely with the meat components of your Passover meal.

Segal’s Fusion ’12 ($17)

This Mevushal blend of Merlot, Cabernet and Cab Franc from Galilee, Israel has popped up on the industry radar and received some excellent reviews. Made in the California Meritage style, it has a bright, spicy, red-fruited backdrop contrasting its tobacco, licorice and savory secondaries. Call it this year’s Kosher-for-Passover gem!


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