Perfect Wine for Purim Merrymaking | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

Perfect Wine for Purim Merrymaking

Perfect Wine for Purim Merrymaking

A Purim celebration depicted in a 19th century painting from Safed/ Courtesy Wikimedia Commons{{PD-US}}

Seven Israeli choices for your celebration

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Purim is just around the corner, so its time again to consider appropriate wines to suit the religiously mandated feast of the day.

Perhaps the best known observance of the Purim feast is to, in the words of Rabbi Yosef Karo (1488-1575) in the Shulchan Aruch (he was quoting directly from the Talmud in Tractate Megillah 7b): “drink on Purim until one does not know the difference between ‘cursed is Haman’ and ‘blessed is Mordechai.’” For most of us, that’d take a fair amount of drink—unless one presumes this pointed distinction to be merely a Talmudic euphemism for getting mildly tipsy rather than totally squiffed.

So, what to drink? To help narrow down the field a bit, I turned to the Megillah itself for inspiration.

In the Purim story, after Haman is hanged, Mordechai and Esther get permission via royal decree to preemptively kill their enemies. Amidst the carnage are listed ten names identified as “the ten sons of Haman” (9”10).

On that phrase, Rashi, the preeminent biblical commentator, makes an interesting comment: “These are the ten who wrote a [false] accusation against Judea and Jerusalem, as it is written in the Book of Ezra (4:6): ‘And in the reign of Ahasuerus, at the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the dwellers of Judea and Jerusalem.’” The takeaway is that Haman’s sons sought to thwart Jewish aspirations in the Land of Israel. So it seems to me Israeli wine would make an especially fitting accompaniment to your Purim festivities.

Here are some red and white options to consider:

Golan Heights Winery, Hermon Moscato, Galilee, 2016 ($15): Pleasantly aromatic (white peach, green apple, honeysuckle), with enjoyably bright, clean, and sweet flavors of stone and tropical fruits, crushed almonds, and a touch of spice. Sweet, but balanced and fresh.

Galil Mountain, Sauvignon Blanc, Upper Galilee, 2016 ($17): Rounded, fruity, and fresh, with agreeable notes of apple, citrus, and a slightly herbaceous quality—could do with a bit more acidity, but is easy and pleasurable drinking all the same.

Carmel, Kayoumi Vineyard, Riesling, Galilee, 2014 ($25): Lovely, medium-bodied, aromatic riesling with aromas of stone fruits, green melon, and a little classic petrol, leading to flavors of white peach, tangerine, and apple, with nice minerality, zippy acidiy, and bracing acidity. Absorbing and refreshing.

Psagot, Sinai, Jerusalem Mountains, 2016 ($19): This value-driven blend of 55% cabernet sauvignon, and 45% shiraz is uncomplicated, but very likeable; fresh, fruity, and food-friendly.

Golan Heights Winery, Yarden, 2T, Touriga Nacional-Tinta Cão Red, Galilee, 2014 ($32): This dense, concentrated, beefy Israeli take on Portuguese table wine is distinctive and yummy, with notes of black cherry, wild berry, plum, pomegranate, chocolate, anise, and spice enmeshed in a pillow of French oak and grippy tannins. Lots going on here, but it holds together and performs brilliantly.

Psagot, Peak, Jerusalem Mountains, 2014 ($50): A serious blend of 42% Syrah, 42% Petite Sirah, and 16% Mourvedre, this beauty needs time and air to rally open, but once it does, it soars—with a nose full of black fruits and chocolate, and vibrant flavors of blackberry, anise, espresso, vanilla, smoked meat, black pepper, and something vaguely nutty; with velvety tannins, and a touch of minerality

Golan Heights Winery, Yarden, Heights Wine (Gewürztraminer), Galilee, 2016 ($25): This charming, full dessert wine is rich and honeyed, with notes of stone fruits, litchi, baked apple, sweet ginger, and a sprinkling of cinnamon—all balanced by crisp acidity the finish is bright, clean, and lengthy.


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