By Gabriel Geller
Pesach is Chag HaMatzos. People often ask which wine pairs best with matzos. There are two answers to this question: Either no wine pairs with matzah, or all wines do. And that’s without getting into the discussion about gebrocht and non-gebrocht. Pesach is also Chag HaAviv, the holiday that celebrates the beginning of the spring. Trees are blossoming these days, the weather is warming up, and a bounty of freshly bottled rosé and white wines are popping up on the store shelves.
Rosé and whites are the perfect wines to relax with on a warm chol ha’moed afternoon, or with the many fish and chicken dishes and salads to be served over the course of yom tov. Rosé wines are also a great alternative to the heavier red wines for the arba kosos. They are typically light in body, relatively low in alcohol, with refreshing acidity. A rosé will go down more easily while drinking the proper shiur required, whichever opinion you hold by. The spring symbolizes renewal.
Matar winery from Israel’s Golan Heights have released a new rosé. The Matar Rosé 2018 is pale pink in color, with aromas and flavors of citrus blossom, grapefruit, and cherries. It is a real pleasure to drink. The Herzog Lineage Rosé 2018 is a great option, as well, even more so if you need a mevushal rosé. It is made from no less than 12 grape varieties grown in the Herzog family’s Prince Vineyard in Clarksburg, California, Tempranillo, Viognier, Petite Sirah, to name a few, each one contributing its unique savors and characteristics.
A pleasant and delightful white is the Or Haganuz Amuka Blanc Blend 2018. It is a blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, grown in Or Haganuz’s estate vineyards in the Upper Galilee, which are some of the most beautiful in Eretz Yisrael. It is light to medium-bodied, with amazing notes of Meyer lemon, pear, and kiwi, with abundant acidity.
French wines, especially the red ones hailing from Bordeaux, are usually considered as heavy and bold. Not all of them are like that. Château La Clare 2014 for instance has a silky texture and is medium in body. It is neither too tannic nor concentrated, allowing for easy sipping, and it pairs nicely with chicken. Being already five years old, it is not too young to enjoy now. Some have the minhag to drink davka white wines at the Seder.
The Herzog Special Reserve Quartet 2015 is a wine to drink preferably with the many other yom tov and chol ha’moed meals. A blend of Malbec, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot grown in some of California’s prime growing regions, it is full-flavored, with complex notes of blackberries, strawberry jams, purple plums, with hints of spices and dark chocolate. A real treat with a slow-cooked, well-marbleized second cut brisket.
Going back to the Seder, why not have a dessert wine for the 4th cup? Tzafona Cellars from Canada have recently come up with an unusual wine. The Tzafona Ice Wine Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 is made, as its name suggests, from grapes that were late harvested frozen on the vines. The temperatures drop well below 30°F pretty early during the fall, causing the remaining grapes in the vineyards to freeze naturally. These grapes, having reached a very high level of ripeness with a sky high amount of sugar will, when crushed, release a very small amount of highly concentrated juice, very sweet while however retaining the natural acidity which is necessary to balance out that sweetness. This wine can either replace dessert, or will complement a fruit salad, served with almond and coconut macaroons.
Having read all of the aforementioned recommendations, please remember that most important is that you drink the wines that you enjoy. Pesach is Chag HaGeulah, the holiday on which we must celebrate our freedom from Mitzrayim, our freedom to do our avodas Hashem, and, l’havdil, our freedom to choose the wines we like. Pesach kasher v’sameyach, l’chaim!