Seder Sips

I have attended approximately one and a half Seders in my life. The half one was my childhood Methodist church’s Sunday school class about Seders. I went to a very open church and was happy we were taught to respect the religious traditions of others. I don’t think we got to take part in the Seder tradition of drinking four glasses of wine, though. I’d imagine that is because a) technically Methodists aren’t supposed to drink and b) we were children. I don’t think they even gave us a cup of the church’s communion Welch’s. I just accidentally wrote Sommunion and now I really want to invent another religion for those of us who work in wine. Or maybe I should just found a religion based on drinking four bottles of wine at our gatherings. Oh wait—some people already founded that religion. It’s called Brunch, and the wine is called Prosecco. So, a little kosher education. All kosher wine is made of grapes that, from the time of arriving at the winery, must be handled by Shabbat-observant Jews. I’ve found some sources saying “from grape-crushing to bottling”, and some saying that ALL wine handling, from the grapes arriving at the winery to the wine being served, must be done by Jews. This brings me to my next fun fact: some kosher wine is mevushal and some is not. Non-mevushal kosher wine, if handled by non-Jews, is no longer considered kosher. So if you are a restaurant serving wine to people who are keeping kosher and you have waiters who are not Jewish, make sure the wine is mevushal. The process of making a wine mevushal used to involve boiling wine, although now flash pasteurization is the technique of choice, as it does not have boiling’s deleterious effects on flavor. Oh, and “Kosher for Passover?” During Passover, Jews are not supposed to eat or drink anything leavened or fermented from wheat, barley, oats, spelt or rye. Seeing as wine is made of grapes, I think all wine that is kosher should be okay for Passover? But don’t quote me on that. Plus I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some inventive winemaker out there co-fermenting barley with Merlot, so they could have a cheeky label on their Bar-lot Harlot wine. Or Pin-Oat Noir. Oh no, have I figured out what wine I will someday be making? Sadly, I guess it will not be kosher for Passover. Below are the best kosher wines I tried whilst researching. Oh, and if you want to go big, I hear that the Bordeaux second-growth Château Léoville-Poyferré has made kosher wines. I did not manage to try one, but if you find it, let me know how you like it. And now, for your Seder selections: ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 2017 Tzora Vineyards Judean Hills Blanc At 75% Chardonnay and 25% Sauvignon Blanc, it will not upset anyone, which is not to say some will not love it. I totally enjoyed. I rate it as thoroughly pound-able which is solid if you need to drink four glasses? Give it to the person who thinks they only drink Pinot Grigio. 2017 Bartenura Pinot Grigio But, for those who truly only drink Pinot Grigio, go with this. It looks like Pinot Grigio—pale lemon but ever so slightly copper. It tastes like PG: a little fruity—yellow apples and lemons, a hint of beer, a whiff of seashell. Also pound-able. 2016 Mt. Tabor Galilee Gewurztraminer Oh hey, an unapologetically semi-sweet wine, and hey! It’s tasty. It has refreshing acid but also a hint—just a hint—of sugared fruit. This is a Gewurtz for non-Gewurtz lovers. Rashi Vineyards ‘Joyvin’ Red/Rouge I saw this and thought it was deep pink rosé, but Rashi calls it red. Whatever tone of rouge you want to think of it as, it’s fun. Off-dry. Ever so slightly bubbly. Am I sure what’s in it? Nah. Do I care? Double nah. This is party wine, excellent. A step or so above your box rosé. 2014 Hagafen Merlot I call it double cherry cozied up with chocolate, vanilla bean and clove. And I appreciated the velvet texture. 2014 Gilgal Galilee Cabernet Sauvignon It is a pot of blackberry jam in a petite oak-serving dish. With cocoa powder sprinkled on top to give it a bitter kick. 2016 Covenant Syrah Decant this, and give it a minute to say hi to air. It is purple-y and boysenberry-y and a smidge floral and rich! 2016 Tulip Winery “Just Merlot” Upper Galilee Merlot I think this would be terrific ballasted by haroset. It might go well with those jelly fruit slice candies, too. I realize of all the wines I tried, two Merlots made my top eight. Maybe Galilee is Merlot’s sweet spot! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Want to read more from Ellen? Check out her recent articles: Old World vs. New World Round Five: Zinfandel! But Is It Vegan? Classic Pairings for the Veggie Soul: Pairing Five Classic Pairings for the Veggie Soul: Pairing Four Old World vs. New World Round Four: Chenin Blanc! You can also listen to Ellen's podcast with Shaughn Buchholz, The Wine Situation here .

Covenant Wines

Syrah 2016

Took this down last night with the bf and we both give it a thumbs up. It is purple-y fruity flowered and I believe was friends with an oak barrel at some point in its life. Seder-friendly, I’d think. All these kosher wines are making me crave haroset. — 5 years ago

Shawn, Trixie and 12 others liked this

Golan Heights Winery

Gilgal Galilee Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

No makeup pretty wine. The beverage is purple as it’s label and also tastes purple-y if I may say so. There was surely some oak at play, something cocoa-y and a touch blackberry jammy. It’s a wine I’d take to a Cure concert. I don’t mean to drink. Just personality wise I feel like it would listen to the Cure. If only wine could dance. — 5 years ago

Norman, Matt and 21 others liked this
Ellen Clifford

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@P A thank you and infinite cheers!!!
Ellen Clifford

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@Trixie still feel like we need to hang out...


@Ellen Clifford That would be a blast! Cool musical taste people unite!😉

Tulip Winery

Just Upper Galilee Merlot 2016

Post-show bev. Goes down easy. It’s that hint o’ green that keeps it flowing. Not too tannic, not too much of anything—which is to say there is enough. Totally pleasant. It’s like watching Sesame Street as an adult. Won’t challenge your brain but will be pleasant and give you, if not the warm fuzzies then at least a bit of alcohol-induced warmth. If I needed four glasses at a Seder I could. Oh wait you wanted real notes? If you didn’t stop reading now.
WSET-ish style:
Eye: medium ruby, thick tears Nose: cherries, huckleberries, a hint of asphalt and a lick of arugula. Palate: dry, medium acid, medium minus tannins, high abv, medium body and flavor intensity, cherry cordial, blueberry pancakes (no maple but vanilla tinged, green pepper, Is that a Granny Smith in my merlot? May be. Medium finish.
— 5 years ago

David, Severn and 10 others liked this


Joyvin Red Blend

A wine I respect because it is what it is. Which is a to say a wine with some joy. Sweet-ish. Light. Super fun zone. That’s all. It why they named it what they did sorry but this is a funtimes vin. Joy. — 5 years ago

Trixie, Serge and 9 others liked this

Tzora Vineyards

Judean Hills Blanc 2017

Friendly and non-offensive to anyone with a smidge of mineral depth. Gulpable. Get it and everyone will be cool. Lemon rind and apples and a hint of bread crust wrapped up—no no running free from a toxin free wax paper wrapper this is a wine for all peoples. Not crazy complex but not dumbed down. — 5 years ago

Severn, Paul and 17 others liked this


Delle Venezie Pinot Grigio 2017

Pinot grigio for your Seder. Or if you are just wanting a light affordable white? Don’t know that I’d call this a first pick if I’m...thinking about wine? But also it’s balanced. And friendly — 5 years ago

Neil, "Odedi" and 9 others liked this


Nice review!
Ellen Clifford

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Thanks @Trixie ! Kept it short this time:)