What to Serve Elijah
L’Chaim’s last minute Passover wine recommendations
L’Chaim’s last minute Passover wine recommendations
Passover is just around the corner, and I have been getting a steady stream of requests for wine advice for the seders’ four cups and the various festival meals. The best advice I can offer is always: don’t get too worked up trying to determine the best or perfect wine selection for the occasion, or for a specific menu.
The interplay of wine and food is, as I’ve noted many times before, strictly subjective. There is no perfect pairing to be found. The goal of matching wine with food is balance; neither the food nor the wine should overpower each other. Besides, it’s hard to imagine anybody being too actively displeased by whatever wines you offer.
Worst case scenario: If you find your best effort at pairing food and wine is somehow catastrophic, simply stopper the bottle and move on to another. Tragedy is thereby cut short. Alternatively, provide several options at once—one of them is likely to be a good fit. The only unrecoverable gaffe in my book is to run out of wine. As the great W. C. Fields once said, “I never drink water; that is the stuff that rusts pipes.” Good food prefers a good beverage, like wine, and bad food demands it.
Of course, Passover is expensive already; one need not break the bank to serve good wine. If the budget is especially tight—and who’s budget isn’t? —aim for slightly less expensive wines so that you can comfortably provide plenty of bottles without risking running dry.
Here, then, are some new and interesting wines to consider this holiday season:
Herzog, Lineage, Rosé, Clarksburg, 2018 ($20; mevushal): This lovely field blend rosé is bright, refreshing, and floral, offering fresh though somewhat restrained notes of pomegranate, strawberry, watermelon, and slightly under-ripe honeydew melon.
Flam, Rosé, 2018 ($32): This lovely Israeli blend of 71% Syrah, 23% Cabernet Franc, and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, is fresh, aromatic, fruity yet restrained and elegant, with vibrant, zippy acidity that helps keep it all crisp and refreshing.
Gush Etzion Winery, Spring River, Rosé, Judean Hills (Israel), 2018 ($25): A lovely, flavorful, vibrant, balanced rosé of Grenache.
Château Guiraud, Le G de Guiraud, Bordeaux Blanc Sec (kosher edition) 2017 ($37): A 50/50 blend of organic certified Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, this is medium-bodied, intense, bone dry and fabulously balanced with terrific tension from the vibrant acidity.
Hagafen Cellars, Chardonnay, Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley, 2017 ($30; mevushal): This is a classic Napa Chard done the right way: vibrant, engaging, fruity yet judiciously oaked, and utterly delicious.
Domaine Les Marronniers, Chablis, 2017 ($33; mevushal): This is a superb, crisp, flinty, restrained, and elegant Chablis (an unoaked Chardonnay), with a fabulous, almost saline foundation upon which its fruit notes lovingly swim.
Any of the Beaujolais wines I’ve written about recently would be great for seders or holiday meals, like the Abarbanel Beaujolais Villages, the Louis Blanc Cru Beaujolais, the Côte de Brouilly, the Juliénas, and the Moulin-à-Vent. Some heftier reds, include:
Herzog, Special Reserve, Quartet, Red Blend, 2015 ($37; mevushal): A nice dark cherry-berry driven blend of 36% Petite Verdot, 31% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, and 15% Zinfandel, with an appealing note of bitter chocolate on the finish.
Jacques Capsouto Vignobles, Cotes de Galilee Village, Cuvée Samuel Rouge, Galilee, Israel, 2016 ($20): A beautiful black cherry and black olive driven Rhône-like Israeli blend with a nice herbal backdrop and a hint of raspberry.
Jacques Capsouto Vignobles, Cotes de Galilee Village, Cuvée Marco, Grand Vin, 2016 ($40): This similar, but even better—altogether more elegant and complex— showing greater interplay between savory, sweet, and spice.
Château Fontenil, Fronsac, 2015 ($55): This is elegant, supple, silky, soft, fresh, and complex with spice, wet earth, sweet plum and black cherry notes.
Château Guiraud, Petit Guiraud, Sauternes (kosher edition), 2017 ($75): This floral, ripe, and luscious dessert wine is the second wine of this Château—there have also previously been kosher editions of the first wine, offering notes of citrus, melon, honeysuckle, honeyed fruits, marmalade, mango, pineapple, and a lovely bite of bitter orange pith. The lengthy and enjoyable finish offers a tart and sweet fruit medley, with a little funky fruitiness too. Lovely.
Herzog, Late Harvest, Orange Muscat, 2018 ($23; mevushal): A pleasing semi-sweet fruit salad of a wine with aromas and flavors of mandarin orange, marmalade, passion fruit, lychee sorbet, grapefruit, vanilla bean, honeysuckle, apricot, and lemon, with bits of racy ginger, mild honeydew melon, and raisin dancing in and out of focus. Most enjoyable.
De La Rosa, Ashray Chardonnay, Late Harvest Sweet Wine, 2015 ($19.99; mevushal): Simple but balanced and utterly delicious with lovely honeyed fruit notes of sweet, juicy apples, both ripe and dried apricots, quince and hints of pineapple; from organic vineyards in Burgenland, Austria.