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Spectacular and unusual wines for the seder

I like to amuse, or delight. I claim no great personal expertise. I just like to order some that are exotic or amusing, and some that are very very good.

In the amusing category, for example, last year I bought a wine form Cyprus that actually labeled itself "Yayin Kafrisin" I mean, you read about the stuff, but you never got to drink it before. How cold I resist? I thought it was a little rough.

So, I am interested in ideas, and I expect that others are, too.

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  1. Wine for the seder is always difficult for many reasons. First off, at my seder there's always a mix of real wine drinkers and cream malaga/moscato d'asti lovers, so I always make sure to get a blend of decent stuff and garbage so everyone will be happy. But because of the amount one has to drink and the speed one with which one has to gulp down each kos, I tend to shy away from the dry, complex reds I usually prefer in favor of slightly lower alcohol, slightly sweeter wines. I find that lighter-bodied reds like pinot noirs or late harvest vintages like Herzog's Jeunesse line tend to do just enough to satisfy my snobby palate enough while allowing me to drink four full cups quickly without passing out.

    For this year I plan to get a bottle or two of Capcanes' new Le Flor wine, which I tasted and enjoyed (though I didn't fall completely in love) at the KFWE last week. It's a bit lighter than their others and drinks a bit like a pinot noir.

    If you're really more concerned with interesting than you are with good, then try pomegranate wine, which I find to be syruppy and not especially enjoyable but is certainly somewhat unusual. There's a Chinese brand that is kosher and carried in all the liquor stores I frequent in the 5 Towns area.

    9 Replies
    1. re: LI Guy

      would pomegranate wine be kosher for the seder? not that i was planning on going with that, but just curious

      1. re: koshergastronome

        Not to nitpick, but...
        Would pomegranate wine be kosher for passover, most likely.
        Would pomegranate wine fulfill the requirement for the four cups, ask your rabbi.

        You asked question #1, but I assume you meant to ask question #2 which has nothing to do with kashrut.

        1. re: avitrek

          The answer, however, is "definitely not". It's not wine. The bracha is shehakol. Nor is it by any stretch of the imagination "chamar medinah". So no, it's not kosher for kiddush, havdalah, benching, or the four cups. It may be kosher for drinking during the meal; then again, having tasted it once out of curiosity, I have no desire to do so again.

          1. re: zsero

            In regards to "chamar medina", opinions are not quite as black & white as zsero states. At least as far as havdala is concerned (and arguably, lunchtime kiddush) pomegranate wine may well be chamar medina according to several poskim.

            1. re: andyls

              In which medina?!

              1. re: zsero

                In Israel.

                1. re: andyls

                  Really? Pomegranate wine is popular enough in Israel to be "chamar medina" by even the loosest standard?! I highly doubt it.

                  1. re: zsero

                    I don't consider Rav Feinstein "the loosest standard", so I'm a little uncomfortable using him as a source for this answer.

                    However, according to Rav Moshe Feinstein z"l in Igrot Moshe Orech Chaim Chelek Bet Siman 75) Chamar Medina is defined as a beverage a person drinks (even when he's not thirsty) because of its importance or preference.

                    Neither I nor zsero might choose to drink pomegranate wine "because of its importance or preference" but others may ... it's a reasonably popular beverage here in Israel, and can be bought in most stores that sell wine and liquor. As I said, it's not quite as black & white as was claimed.

                    As a sidenote: When I learned the halachot of havdala, I was told that a reasonable working criteria for "chamar medina" was "Would you serve it to a royal guest?"

                    Since I grew up in England, and I have no doubt whatsoever that the Queen would welcome a cup of tea were she to pop in to say hello, ever since then it's been my custom to say havdala on tea.

                    1. re: andyls

                      That criterion you cite is necessary but not sufficient. That one drinks it for social rather than thirst-quenching properties makes it *potentially* "the local 'wine'" rather than merely "the local 'water'". But it must also be popular enough to *be* the local 'wine'; I cannot believe that pomegranate wine's popularity in Israel, or in any country, has reached that level. If the President of Israel were to drop in at a random person's house, the ten most likely beverages they'd offer him would not include pomegranate wine. Nor would the top twenty or thirty.

                      Tea, on the other hand, is certainly "chamar medina" in the UK, and a reasonable case can be made for it being so in Israel as well.

    2. All I know is that when we stopped buying Manischewitz "Sacramental Syrup" and started buying grape juice and low alcohol Joyvin, I finally found out what they do in the second half of the seder...

      1. There are some great kosher wines out there, including some newly released ones. Some great and hard to find wines are those form Four Gates or Brobdignagian. Also recommended are anything from Yatir and the newly released Cabenret Sauvignon from the Yonatan Vineyard by the Golan Heights Winery in their Yarden series.

        Every year before Pessach I write a few newsletters with scads of recommendations for Seder wines and my first one should be distributed in a week or so. You can sign-up at www.yossiescorkboard.com or see last years recommendations at http://goo.gl/uLV5e.

        Yossie Horwitz
        www.yossiescorkboard.com

        1. I had a nice malbec recently. The Don Guillermo malbec. Nice cherry flavors. Goes well with food. I had it with beef, but I think it would go particularly well with lamb. I also have been thinking of getting some more of the elvi Adar Brut Cava. I kind of like the idea of a sparkling wine for the last cup. This is a nice, crisp, and dry, with nice small bubbles. Curious to hear what you've been thinking of.

          4 Replies
          1. re: aivri

            I LOVE malbec but wonder whether you have actually found one that is Kosher for Passover. If so I would love to have the name. And, if anyone would like some really fun Passover/Pesach haikus, let me know! :-)

            1. re: rjlebed

              rjlebed, I don't remember ever checking specifically, but 99+% of kosher wines are kosher for passover, any reason you would suspect that Malbec's aren't?

              1. re: avitrek

                No reason. I did not know whether it was kosher or not. That was really the question. Sorry if that was not clear. Most of the folks at my table do not worry about the specifics but there are a few who do. Thanks.

                1. re: rjlebed

                  KosherWine.com has 3 Malbecs that are all kosher for passover.

          2. Reposting this where it will be seen:

            A great Israeli restaurant in Philly has suggested the following Israeli kosher wines for the seder. They are suppose to be available in state stores in PA....and I'm sure other states. I plan to buy several bottles tomorrow and use for our seder.

            Golan Heights Yarden Brut
            Binyamna Unoaked Chardonnay
            Carmel Ridge Carignan Shiraz

            By DaisyM on Mar 29, 2011 10:54AM

            I'm going to a pre-Pesach wine tasting Thursday.

            2 Replies
            1. re: AdinaA

              Part I of my annual Pesach Kosher Wine Guide is out and can be viewed here: http://goo.gl/Qh3tx. Part I has wines under $16 and between $16-30. Next week's Part II will have $30-50 and Moshiach Wines (creme de la creme). You can sign up for the free newsletter here (http://goo.gl/28nmP) and will receive the guide via email on Thursday.

              Yossie Horwitz
              www.yossiescorkboard.com

              1. re: AdinaA

                I don't generally think about a Brut for seder. But if you want to celebrate our freedom with one of the cups, I guess it could work.

              2. Speaking of wine, not that this is spectacular or unusual, but lately I've been drinking quite a bit of Monte Olivo Umbria Bianco 2005. It's a 50/50 mixture of chardonnay and trebbiano, and it's delicious; and best of all, one local shop is selling it for $4.99, because it's not going to last much longer. According to the shop owner it's got a good few months left before it starts to turn, so in the meantime I'm enjoying it.

                1 Reply
                1. re: zsero

                  My family the Baron Herzog Jeunesse is the wine for most celebrations. It's a middle of the road type of wine that most people enjoy. However this year there is a new wine from Israel that I'm going to buy, Zmora Cabernet Sauvignon. It's a semi-sweet wine that is made from young grapes, so it is on the sweet side. People love it when I do tastings of it, unless they are dry wine drinkers.

                2. No matter what I try I keep coming back to cream malaga. Everyone in my family loves it, however for the seder I add Concord Kal and grape juice to the mix. Those two makes it easy to drink the required amount. Since one is chugging down a couple of cups rather quickly a more sophisticated wine would be a waste.

                  1. The Atlantic just published the low-down on why Jews drink what they drink on Pesach.

                    The 11th Plague? Why People Drink Sweet Wine on Passover

                    http://www.theatlantic.com/life/archi...