From Slavery to Freedom, From Sorrow to Joy
We are living in an unprecedented situation. I keep hearing and reading that we are in a world of uncertainty. But that could not be less true. We are all witnessing that despite all the technology and scientific advances achieved and built by Mankind, one thing is quite certain: Mankind does not control the world. No less certain: Hashem is in charge. We schedule conventions, seminars, weddings, Pesach programs, birthday parties... In the end, however, rabot machshavot b’lev ish v’atzat Hashem hi takum – there are many plans in a man's heart, but Hashem’s advice will prevail (Mishlei 19:21). Once we recognize that Hashem is in charge, it is humbling, but even more so it is comforting and reassuring for the soul and the heart.
I am not here to deliver an extensive dvar torah. I believe, however, that it is essential to keep in mind that we are not alone and that Hashem does everything for a clear and positive purpose, even when we do not understand it. Not yet, at least. We are all following the news as the days go by with constant updates on the Coronavirus.
But Passover is coming up. That is a certainty, as well. In Nisan, we celebrate our freedom from our enslavement in Egypt, and we receive the freedom of choice, with which we decide to serve Hashem and embrace his Torah. We rejoice in our freedom on Passover with the Arba Kosos, the 4 cups of wine. Drinking these 4 cups is a mitzvah, and it is always recommended to embellish a mitzvah, to do hidur mitzvah. I have great news for you! This mitzvah is easy to embellish. For us, the Jews of the diaspora, there are two Sedarim, and therefore 8 cups of wine. If you live in Eretz Yisrael then you will only have one Seder and 4 cups. But even then, there are many other meals, both on Yom Tov and Chol Hamoed which represent as many occasions to celebrate and drink fine wine for that purpose.
I like using rosé wines for the 4 cups. Rosé wines are usually lighter, fruitier, relatively moderate in alcohol, and easier to drink. Among some of my favorite rosé wines so far this season are the Herzog Lineage Rosé 2019, a field blend from the Herzog family vineyard in Clarksburg, CA. It is light, refreshing and flavorful, with notes of citrus and tropical fruits, truly delicious. For the first Seder, I have the personal custom to only use Israeli wines.
The Rosé 2019 from Domaine du Castel is yet again a winner. Crisp, aromatic, with floral and stone fruit notes. This one will definitely be part of my Seder.
For those who have the custom of drinking white wine for the 4 cups, the Vitkin Gewürztraminer 2018 is one wine I just cannot recommend enough. It has such a bright and inviting profile, beautifully balanced, dry yet approachable even if you don’t usually drink dry wines.
If you like Chenin Blanc, thanks to the ever consistent and reliable offering from Baron Herzog, then consider also the Netofa Latour White 2018. While it is dry and aged in French oak barrels, it offers incredible complexity without being too sophisticated for the non-initiated drinker.
Now onto the reds. Château Signac 2018 is a great new addition. A blend of Grenache and Syrah from the Rhône Valley, the Signac has not seen any oak aging so as to preserve the aromas of the fruit and keep it from being astringent. It is light enough to be considered for the 4 cups and delivers excellent quality at an affordable price tag.
The Or Haganuz Amuka Light 2019 is another must-have this coming Passover. Thanks to a new technology developed by the winery, this fine, dry Cabernet Sauvignon sports only 9% alcohol. It ticks all the boxes: dark fruit aromas, silky, medium-bodied mouthfeel with soft tannins.
Passover is also one of the holidays on which I enjoy opening a well-aged bottle of red wine. I do realize, however, that not everyone is hoarding wine as I do, or has the room and storage conditions for that. While it will age gracefully for many years to come, the Château Grand-Puy Ducasse Pauillac 2015 is already drinking nicely, with some aged/tertiary earthy and savory notes.
Let’s prepare for a Passover filled with the knowledge and confidence that G-d is in charge and even if we might not be able to show our gratitude for our freedom by davening with a minyan, we will nonetheless do our best to enjoy and embellish every aspect of Passover and the Sedarim. Chag Kasher v’Sameach, L’chaim!