Every spring, Jews around the world celebrate Passover. The highlight of the holiday is the Seder—a festive meal when the story of the Jewish exodus from Egypt is recalled and celebrated across the generations. Wine, considered the drink of royalty, plays a central role in the Seder ritual. Jews are commanded to drink four cups throughout the evening as a symbol of freedom from bondage.
That’s a lot of wine!
Fortunately, the pandemic couldn’t stop the evolution and expansion of the kosher wine market, and there will be no shortage of wine options when the 8-day Passover holiday begins on April 15. Quite the contrary.
“Consumers looking for wines from renowned regions throughout the old and new world can satisfy their thirst with more options than ever before,” said wine expert Gabriel Geller, Director of Public Relations for Royal Wine Corp., the largest manufacturer, importer, and exporter of kosher wine.
It seems the problem is not the availability of great wine but the overwhelming number of great wines to choose from. "Royal Wine offers a delicious selection of kosher for Passover wines from around the world,” said Geller. “Some of the top producers are creating award-winning varietals at every price point.” With Passover just around the corner, he wants to take the guesswork out of buying wine.
Red or white? For those who love a luxurious, bold, layered red, Geller recommends Jewel, Psagot’s new flagship wine (SRP $150). “It’s an impressive bottle of wine with notes of rich black fruit, cedar, and vanilla.”
White wine enthusiasts will enjoy Rimapere (SRP $23), “a delicious, fragrant, floral, citrusy Sauvignon Blanc”. And it’s hard to go wrong with Baron Herzog Rosé (SRP $12). “Fruit-forward, light, flavorful and crisp,” he says, “this crowd-pleaser is a fantastic value.”
Of special interest to the wine world is the return of a kosher batch from the very prestigious Château Pontet-Canet, 5th Cru Pauillac (SRP $225). Geller warns that it may be very difficult to find this fine Bordeaux. “The 2019 vintage is extremely limited and fully pre-booked pre-release in March,” he explains.
However, it will be easy to sample a good selection from Baron Herzog, the historic entry-level quality kosher wines from Herzog Wine Cellars. “They recently underwent a complete revamping,” Geller notes. “Reasonably priced at $9 to $13, Baron Herzog showcases the best in California wines.”
New from South Africa - Royal Wine has added ESSA Winery to its portfolio, just in time for Passover. This new boutique winery produces arguably the best quality kosher wine to ever come out of South Africa. ESSA offers four different wines - a white Bordeaux-style blend, a red Bordeaux-style blend, a Malbec, and a Cabernet Franc grown in some of South Africa’s most prized vineyards. The wines range from SRP $20-$50. ESSA is the dream come true of Joshua Rynderman, a young Boston-raised winemaker. He spends half of the year making kosher wine in California and the other half making kosher wine in South Africa. Chana, his South African wife, is the CEO.
Carmel Winery’s new Carmel Special Reserve 40th Anniversary Edition 2016 (SRP $80) is also high on Geller’s list. “This wine is a tribute to the legendary 1976 Carmel Special Reserve, Israel’s first modern high-quality red wine.” Carmel, the pioneer of the modern Israeli wine industry, was founded by Château Lafite’s Baron Edmond de Rothschild in 1882.
Rounding out Geller’s recommendations are Rothschild’s Rimapere Sauvignon Blanc 2021 from New Zealand (SRP $25) and semi-dry rosés and a Pinot Noirs from Tura, the estate winery in the heart of biblical Israel (SRP $25-$90).
As for coming trends, Geller is pleased to note that Burgundy is making a comeback, and fans of Italian wine can look for new releases in the coming months, including a Vermentino, a Barbera d’Asti, and a Super Tuscan.