By Gabriel Geller – Royal Wine/Kedem
Passover is the Holiday of the Matzo. People often ask which wine pairs best with matzo There are two answers to this question: Either no wine pairs with matzo, or all wines do.
Passover is also Chag Ha’aviv, the Holiday of the Spring, and Chag Hage’ula, the Holiday of Freedom. Trees are blossoming these days, the weather is warming up, and a bounty of freshly bottled rosé and white wines are popping up on the stores shelves. Rosé and whites are the perfect wines to relax with on a warm Passover afternoon, or with the many fish, chicken and salads to be served over the course of the holiday.
Rosé wines are also a great alternative to the heavier red wines for the Four Cups. They are typically light in body, relatively low in alcohol, with refreshing acidity. A rosé will go down more easily while drinking the proper shiur (amount) required, whichever opinion you hold by.
The spring symbolizes renewal. Matar winery from Israel’s Golan Heights has released a new rosé. The Matar Rosé 2018 is a very pale pink in color, with aromas and flavors of citrus blossom, grapefruit and cherries. A real pleasure to drink. The Herzog Lineage Rosé 2018 is a great option as well, even more so if you need a Mevushal rosé. This vintage is made from no less than 12 grapes varieties grown in the Herzog Family’s Prince Vineyard in Clarksburg, CA. Among those varieties, Tempranillo, Viognier, Petite Sirah, to name a few. Each and every one contributing its unique savors and characteristics.
Some have the custom to drink only wines at the Seder. A very pleasant and delightful white Seder wine is the Or Haganuz Amuka Blanc Blend 2018. It is a blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, grown in Or Haganuz’s estate vineyards in the Upper Galilee, which are some of the most beautiful in Israel. It is light- to medium-bodied, with amazing notes of Meyer lemon, pear and kiwi, with abundant acidity.
French wines, especially the red ones hailing from Bordeaux, are usually considered heavy and bold – but not all are. Château La Clare 2014, for instance, has a silky texture and is medium in body. It is neither too tannic nor concentrated, allowing for easy sipping, and it pairs nicely with chicken. Being already five years old, it is not too young anymore to enjoy now.
The Herzog Special Reserve Quartet 2015 is a wine to drink preferably with the many other Yom Tov and Chol Hamoed meals. A blend of Malbec, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot grown in some of California’s prime growing regions, it is full-flavored, with complex notes of blackberries, strawberry jams, purple plums, with hints of spices and dark chocolate. A real treat with a slow-cooked, well-marbleized 2nd cut brisket.
Going back to the Seder, why not have a dessert wine for the 4th cup? Tzafona Cellars from Canada has recently come up with an unusual wine. The Tzafona Ice Wine Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 is made, as its name suggests, from grapes that were late harvested frozen on the vines. The temperatures drop well below 30 degrees Fahrenheit pretty early in the fall, causing the remaining grapes in the vineyards to freeze naturally. These grapes, having reached a very level of ripeness with a sky-high amount of sugar, release a very small amount of highly concentrated juice when crushed. Their juice is very sweet while retaining their natural acidity, which balances out that sweetness. This wine can either replace dessert, or will compliment a fruit salad, served with almond and coconut macaroons.
Having read all of the aforementioned recommendations, please remember that the most important is that you drink the wines that you enjoy. Passover is Chag Hage’ula, the holiday on which we celebrate our freedom from Egypt, and of course our freedom to choose the wines we like. A Happy Passover to all, l’chaim!
Photography by Tzvi Cohen