The question I get asked most between Purim and Pesach is what I plan on drinking during the Seder. Over the years I have gone through different ways of thinking on how to approach the most important feast in our culture from a wine perspective. After all, no other meal within Judaism puts such an emphasis on wine. Yet we wine does not appear in the 4 questions. This is odd – as the question could be asked – on all other chagim and shabbatot we are commanded to drink one cup – and on this night we drink 4. But of course this is not a real question – who only drinks one cup of wine during a festive meal (other than my wife)? But seriously, getting through the required amount of wine can be a challenge for some. Even for those who drink a great deal of wine, drinking it within the prescribed amount of time presents a challenge especially as you usually go into the first cup on an empty stomach And so everyone has a different strategy on what to drink and when .
For me I like to start off with Rose – enjoyable even on an empty stomach. This year I’ll be starting off with the just released 2018 Ya’acov Oryah Pretty as the Moon Rose – a cool playful name which is also a play on the Hebrew title – יפה כלבנה – the word Levana means moon – but it also is the female form of the color white. In other words this wine is as nice as the white wines that Ya’acov makes. And that’s no lie. This wine has enough complexity to keep me happy for that long break between the 1st and second cups – with great dark fruit, funk and nice acid to hold it together. Added bonus this year is that the seder falls out on Friday night which means the required amount of wine that the cup must hold is 131ml – shabbat requirements for kiddush being more stringent – (the other 3 cups this year can hold the usual 100ml) – and one should drink the whole amount if possible and if not, at least the majority of the glass. With this wine, that will be a pleasure.
The second cup immediately precedes the meal. As such I try to pair it with the opening dishes. This year our our meal will start with chicken soup followed by chicken cacciatore. I have found that PInot Noir goes excellently with both so our second cup will be the 2016 Covenant Landsman Napa Valley Pinot Noir. I really like this bottle – pretty varietaly true both in the nose – with great dark red berry and cherry – and in the mouth which is earthy and rich with great warm spice and red fruit. This should provide a wonderful start to the meal.
Our next course will be brisket cooked in a cranberry sauce which I will pair with the 2017 Hajdu Ancient Vines Zinfandel. No it’s not one of the 4 cups but Shulchan Arech is what we are all waiting for by that point of the seder and simply it wouldn’t be complete without wine to take us through the rest of the meal. I actually haven’t tried this one yet, but I’m hoping that it has typical notes of cranberry and a little smoke which should be complimentary.
After the meal is over, I enjoy a dessert wine – but as we are really drinking a ton here I try to make that desert wine one of the 4 cups. The cup which immediately follows the meal will be the NV Netofa Fine Ruby port-style wine. At a whopping 20%, I’ll certainly be in the mood to sing through hallel. As mentioned above the required amount for the 4 cups is just under 100ml – so it’s not a CRAZY amount.
To finish off the night and end on a light note I like to return to Rose and this year the 4th cup will be the 2018 Vitkin Israeli Journey Rose. Nice, light and refreshing and only 12% alcohol – this Rose will hit the spot and be super refreshing after the heavy meal – nice juicy red grapefruit, which a hint of sweetness that will make it a fun way to end the evening.
Anyhow – that’s my plan for this year – I’d love to hear yours….