My first personal experience with wine was at a Passover Seder when I was twelve years old. I can remember the excitement and anticipation I felt as the Manischewitz was being poured into my glass, just waiting to be consumed. During the Passover Seder it is customary to dip your finger into your glass of wine and “spill” a drop of the wine as a symbolic representation of the ten plagues. The sweet grapey taste of the Manishewitz licked from my fingers lingered on my palate and in my mind and that was what I thought all wines tasted like. Fast forward some years, and while I will always have a sentimental love for Manischewitz, my palate has evolved and I appreciate having more options for wine to go with my Passover Seder.
What makes a wine kosher for Passover? Kosher wine must be made by a Shabbat observing male under a Rabbi’s supervision. All wines require yeast to start the fermentation process and turn grape juice into wine, but kosher for Passover wines must use yeast that is not started on bread. To be certain the wine is kosher for Passover; look for the “P” next to the kosher symbol.
Passover is a holiday that obligates one to drink four full glasses of wine throughout the Seder. Luckily for us, Beltramo’s has some fabulous kosher for Passover wines to keep those glasses full. This year I’m looking forward to enjoying a bottle of Blanc du Castel Chardonnay ($44.99), paired with a roasted chicken at our Seder meal. Blanc du Castel is 100% Chardonnay from a hilltop vineyard outside Jerusalem It was barrel fermented and aged sur lie with notes of peaches, citrus, vanilla, minerals, and honey. This wine is reminiscent of a white burgundy.
Other kosher for Passover Chardonnays that we are offering are Hagafen Napa Valley Chardonnay 2009 ($19.99). With its light sunflower hue and Honey Crisp apple, baking spice, and caramel bouquet, Bartlett pear and kiwi season and flow across the palate into a finish of crème brûlée and creamy smooth acid.
And Baron Herzog California Chardonnay 2008 ($12.99). This Chardonnay was barrel and stainless steel fermented and then aged in French and American Oak for 15 months. This cool, terroir-oriented wine shows elegant notes of lime, chamomile and tropical fruit overlaid with a bouquet of toasty oak.
Hagafen Napa Valley Merlot 2007 ($23.99) has a nose of ripe plum, bright white cherry, Lincoln rose, sweet cardamom and vanilla.
Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 ($29.99). A rich and complex Cabernet from Israel has notes of ripe dark red and black fruits, spice, and chocolate.
Galil Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon Yiron Galilee 2006 ($24.99). A blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, and 5% Syrah with abundant aromas of wild berry, cherry and plum jam on a background of seasoned characters of vanilla, clove and toasted oak; full bodied and well balanced; long, classic finish.
Hagafen White Riesling 2010 ($18.99) A delicious off dry Riesling with notes of apples, peach cobbler, meyer lemon, and honey.
Golan Moscato Galilee 2011 ($13.99). This low alcohol lightly sparkling dessert wine is a perfect selection to end your Seder meal with its refreshing notes of citrus blossoms, grapefruit, guavas, and melons.
If you had enough wine to drink during your Passover Seder and want to enjoy a cocktail, Beltramo’s also carries Distillery 209 Gin ($34.99) that is kosher for Passover. Five times distilled, this kosher, sugar cane gin, was created with exceptional attention to detail in handcrafted small batches. This local gin is probably the only gin made over the water at Pier 50 in San Francisco, and it is well worth trying.
With so many fantastic kosher for Passover wines available, my Seder table might have more than the required four glasses on it this year, but as the comedian Jackie Mason said, “A Seder without sweet Manischewitz, would be like horseradish without tears, like a cantor without a voice, like a shul without a complaint, like a yenta without a big mouth, like Passover without Jews.”
Beki Miller, Beltramo’s Wine Consultant