Kosher Wines for Passover
Just in time for Passover, these wines deserve your attention.
With the approach of the Jewish holiday Passover, the demand for kosher wine rises, as four glasses of wine per person are ritually consumed during the holiday dinner, or seder. Many shoppers seem reluctant to purchase kosher wines, as if they can’t compare to their nonkosher counterparts. But although kosher wines once had poor reputations, technological advances have increased their variety and quality, prompting consumers to rethink their opinions.
Generally speaking, kosher wine must be produced according to the Jewish dietary laws and under strict rabbinical supervision. Commercially available wines must have the hechsher (seal of approval) of a rabbi, supervising agency or organization. A kosher wine labeled mevushal has undergone an additional heating process—a much gentler process for today’s wines, thanks to flash-pasteurization—which makes it possible for non-Jews or nonobservant Jews to handle the finished product while still preserving the wine’s kosher certification.
This month’s top Israeli wines are worth considering not just for the holidays, but for year-round enjoyment, whether you keep kosher or not. The country’s wine producers have made significant strides over recent years, and are now producing high quality wines thanks to a deepened understanding of Israel’s terroirs and which grape varieties perform best in the Mediterranean climate.
Elsewhere in this month’s Buying Guide, you’ll find reviews of recent releases from Germany, Tuscany, the Loire Valley, Spain, Portugal, Argentina, New Zealand and Australia, as well as a handful of other Eastern European wines worth discovering and hundreds of domestic wine reviews. And as always, be sure to check out our comprehensive online database at buyingguide.winemag.com—complete with a kosher wine search function—for even more wonderful reviews from around the world.
92 Golan Heights Winery 2012 Yarden Chardonnay (Galilee). A clean nose of slate and cherimoya opens into flavors of passion fruit, caramelized pineapple, nutmeg and jasmine. This wine is sunshine-bright yet smooth as velvet, with a finish that offers lingering notes of citrus and spice. Kosher. Yarden Wines, Inc. Editors’ Choice. —Mike DeSimone
abv: 14% Price: $20
90 Galil Mountain 2012 Yiron Vineyard Viognier (Upper Galilee). Tannins and acidity exhibit a high level of teamwork in this smooth, mouth-pleasing wine. Aromas of lemon, white pepper and vanilla give way to flavors of lemon-lime, bergamot and vanilla custard. The finish is simultaneously lingering and bright. Kosher. Yarden Wines, Inc. —M.D.
abv: 14.5% Price: $18
90 Recanati 2012 Special Reserve White Roussanne-Marsanne (Galilee). Gentle aromas of citrus, thistle and marshmallow root yield to flavors of lemon curd and zest, marshmallow root, pineapple and a touch of laurel. A comfortable layer of tannins offers good mouthfeel, and the finish is zesty and refreshing, with a sophisticated savory note. Kosher. Palm Bay International. —M.D.
91 Golan Heights Winery 2010 Gilgal Syrah (Galilee). This is a thoroughly enjoyable wine, from the first whiff of cranberry and pine needle through the smooth finish that offers the faintest hint of butterscotch. A network of barely-there tannins supports agreeable flavors of cranberry, slightly tart cherry, butterscotch and sage. Kosher. Yarden Wines, Inc. Best Buy. —M.D.
abv: 14.5% Price: $15
90 Recanati 2011 Reserve Petite Sirah-Zinfandel (Galilee). Tongue-coating tannins and bright acidity that washes across the side palate harmonize in this wine. Flavors of bright cherry, thyme, oregano and lavender unfold in the mouth, while the lingering, velvety finish offers a bright, refreshing splash of citrus zest. Kosher. Palm Bay International. —M.D.
abv: 14% Price: $26
90 Recanati 2010 Reserve Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc (Galilee). Rich aromas of black cherry, espresso bean and bell pepper set the stage for flavors of black cherry, raspberry, mocha, pomegranate and jalapeño. Bright on entry, the acidity slowly backs off, revealing velvety tannins that continue through to the harmonious finish. Kosher. Palm Bay International. —M.D.
abv: 14% Price: $27