Passover wines to go with a variety of dishes

April 15, 2019

Today, you will find some Easter and Passover wine tips. How many are aware that Christ and the Apostles were in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover? The primary reason Easter moves around so much is that the date is derived from the Jewish lunar calendar and not the more common 12-month, 365-day Julian calendar. This year, Passover begins at sundown, Friday, April 19. If you wish to learn more, search “Haggadah” and read til you’re informed. Anyhow, a Passover dish that will please all and can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch or dinner is named Shakshuka Paschiya. This is a very simple dish and most will have all ingredients in their larder. Go here for a great tutorial, takes about five minutes:

Nosher has other terrific tutorials. For those who are strict veggie folks, substitute eggs with fava beans, herbs and potatoes. Strict safe-food folks can use dandelion greens. One caveat, those who employ herbicides may wish to eschew this practice or at the very least wash thoroughly in cold water. Those who avoid legumes (kitniyot) substitute some asparagus or spinach. If you only enjoy hard-cooked eggs, go with the beans and herbs.

Last week, I mentioned Bodega Amalaya as one of the Hess Collection’s newer wineries. I ran out of room prior to recommending their Blanco, another from the Salta region of Argentina.

The 2016 won Platinum and best of show at the 2017 Decanter World Wine Awards, no mean feat. The wine, drum roll please, can be found under $11. It is 85 percent Torrontes, 15 percent Riesling.

In addition to supporting Shakshuka, it is excellent with most chicken dishes, e.g. Matzo ball soup, and perfect for turkey, 90 McD points. Look for jasmine and pineapple nose with varietal fruit and peach flavors. A completely dry wine with a lovely mouthfeel and a clean, long finish.

Another Passover wine, a Madeira, that also won best of show and a 98-point score is a Bual 1987. This is a sweet, white, fortified Bual from Cossart Gordon. Look for pronounced walnut and raisin on the nose accented by sweet spice and herbal nuance. The complex palate shows fruit and bright acidity to compensate the sweetness of the wine. English marmalade on the finish. The acidity keeps this very clean. Great accompaniment for Haroset. Please don’t let this price get to you: $196. It is worth every penny for this special occasion. The most recent available vintage is the 2005 around $70; not ready and 90 McD. Keep in mind I’m recommending a 1987. Also, these are 22 percent alcohol, so a normal pour is 1-1.5 oz., and a single 750 ml bottle will easily serve 16 people.

Alexander Sandro Dry Red Blend 2016 from Upper Galilee, Israel, is a decent, inexpensive red blend, 88 McD points under $24. Dark claret-colored, dark fruit nose with some oaken spice.

On the palate dark fruit. Still a tad young. This is OU Kosher. Alexander Winery also produces Alexander the Great Grand Reserve. The 2012 is a star around $150. It spent 48 months in 70 percent French and 30 percent American barrels, and was changed twice to new barrels every two years. As you can imagine, it needs time.

The Reserve Cab 2014 is a good value around $33. Dark reddish-purple with ripe berry, and barrel notes of tobacco and coffee. Berries remain on mid-palate with chocolate nuance. Nicely balanced round tannins and acidity, and a very long finish, 89 McD. All three of these will go well with brisket or short ribs

Closing with a bit of info for table talk. How many know the reason chrien (horseradish) became a substitute for bitter herbs? During the diaspora, as the Ashkenazi Jews were forced to migrate east and north, they ran into the cold climates of Russia, Poland and Germany.

Finding lettuce, chicory, endive, sea holly and herbs during March-April in those regions was next to impossible. Although many used dried herbs, dried lettuce didn’t work. Horseradish was plentiful, inexpensive and acceptable. If you really want a treat, try grinding your own horseradish. Store it in white vinegar and be sure you are in a well-ventilated room. Next week – Easter recommendations.

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