Whether the weather in New England agrees or not, it IS springtime, and the season has come where we dust off our white wine palette and dive into some delicious options. We will also highlight a couple of reds that are perfect for your Passover and Easter tables. [Updated April 2019]
Before we dive into wine recommendations, let’s do a quick overview of the kosher wine tradition:
What makes a wine kosher?
A big misconception about kosher wine is that it’s made differently from non-kosher wine or it’s been “blessed” by a Rabbi. In fact, kosher and non-kosher wines are made the same way, it’s just the handling that is a little different.
In order for wine to be kosher it must adhere to the following:
- A Sabbath-observing Jew to handle the process.
- Each and every ingredient added, whether in filtration or clarification along the vinification process, must be kosher.
- All tools and equipment must be dedicated to kosher winemaking alone.
Aside from the constraints mentioned above, there needn’t be any difference between the techniques used to make a fine kosher wine or a fine non-kosher wine.
What does mevushal mean?
Mevushal is perhaps the most misunderstood term in the kosher wine tradition.
In Hebrew, mevushal means literally boiled. However, mevushal wines are not heated to a boiling temperature. Thanks to modern-day technology, mevushal wines are flash-pasteurized to a temperature that meets the requirements of an overseeing rabbi. The technique does not noticeably harm the wine. In fact, flash-pasteurization is used at a number of very well-known non-kosher wineries, where it is thought to improve certain aromatics.
For Jews, however, the technique simply alters the spiritual quality of a kosher wine removing the chametz or “corrupting influence,” making it less susceptible to ritual proscription and thus pure. That means anyone—whether kosher or not—can open a bottle of mevushal wine and have it retain its kosher status. Non-mevushal, wines are more sensitive to religious constraints and must be opened and poured only by Sabbath-observant Jews.
Horizon’s Wine Team recommends the following selection for Passover:
Bartenura Winery - Italy
Ovadia ben Abraham of Bertinoro, near Forlì, was a rabbi and a commentator on the Mishnah, and was commonly known as "The Bartenura." Born in the second half of the 15th century in Italy, he was a pupil of Joseph ben Solomon Colon (known as the Maharik), and became rabbi in Bertinoro, a town in the province of Forlì whence he derived his by-name, and in Castello.
This winery was named in his honor, in tribute to his Italian heritage, combining his greatness with the storied heritage of Italian winemaking. The wines have been sourced from all over the greatest regions of Italy, in pursuit of bringing the best Italy has to offer.
Bartenura Moscato, Italy
Crist and refreshing, semi-sweet, with lingering pear, tangerine, nectar and melon flavors on the finish
Herzog Wine Cellars - California
Nestled within the strawberry fields and farm rows of Oxnard, California lies Herzog Wine Cellars. Here, under the watchful eye of head winemaker Joe Hurliman, the winery combines the artisan craft of premium California winemaking with the deliberation and unyielding standard of kosher supervision and Herzog family’s heritage of perfection.
Select grapes produced specifically for Herzog wines are chosen from vineyards in California's most regarded appellations. Grown under careful watch, only the best fruits are harvested and brought to the winery. From here, Joe Hurliman searches out inspiring blends of aroma, flavors and colors, refined by the winery into masterful creations enjoyed across the globe.
Baron Herzog Merlot, California
Ripe strawberry, tea, jam, and light coffee aromas. Well- integrated oak and plum flavors make this soft and velvety Merlot a charming wine with a long, flavorful finish
Here’s a little-known fact about Easter Sunday: in order to make Christianity more attractive to non-Christians, the ancient Roman Catholic Church mixed the celebration of Jesus' resurrection with celebrations that involved spring fertility rituals. These spring fertility rituals are the source of the egg and bunny traditions. Whatever your belief, we think you’ll enjoy these wines on Easter Sunday or any day!
2016 King Estate Pinot Gris Willamette Valley:
The winery has just been awarded status in the Willamette Valley AVA. The King family has been farming organically for over 10 years and earned the Demeter Certification in 2016 and 2017. Always a consistent wine with beautiful notes of citrus, apple, and refreshing finish.
2015 Domaine Zind Humbrecht Pinot Gris Alsace:
Keeping with his families’ rich history in the region of Alsace Olivier Humbrecht is one of two Masters of Wine that is a full time winemaker. The region has the least amount of annual rainfall of any wine growing region in France which allows for optimal growing conditions. Not ready to drink now this wine has the aging potential of 5 to 10 years. Notes of flowers, Honey, and apple.
2015 Primarius Pinot Noir, Oregon:
A perfect red wine for every Easter dinner table! Aromas of raspberries and rosehips predominate. On the palate the wine leads in with fresh raspberry fruit that evolves to cranberry and herbal notes and resolves with vanilla and pie cherry flavors. Notes of plum and cranberry linger on the finish.
From our family at Horizon to yours, we wish you a Happy Pesach and Happy Easter!