Monday, March 29, 2010

Passover Wine You Won’t Want to Pass Over

Passover’s here, and in addition to signaling the onset of Spring it also offers a great opportunity to break from tradition. Don’t worry; I’m not talking about giving up the matzoh ball soup. But, if you’ve ever been to a Jewish Seder you might be familiar with Maneshevitz wine and if so, you can probably understand how a break from some customs might be a good thing.

I’m reminded of the many Seders I participated in while growing up, pouring the sweet, thick Manashevitz Concord Grape wine into my youthful body. One of the most significant memories I have of the entire lengthy service was how it was the wine, which got me through it. Even at twelve-years-old, an opportunity to drink (a considerable amount of) wine at the family table was like a carrot dangling before me. What? It’s time to pour the fourth glass? Cool! Jewish holidays kinda ROCK!

While grapes are inherently Kosher, the winemaking process is not. In order for a wine to be Kosher, it must be produced entirely by men (sorry Feminists) and under the supervision of a Rabbi. Kosher for Passover wines additionally made with yeasts not grown on bread and exclude all preservatives.

When I was growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, Kosher wine was not exactly popular and choices were limited. Tradition dictated and custom claimed victory as my family emptied bottles of Maneshevitz year after year. Today, a whole array of Kosher for Passover wines exist so the wine lover no longer has to cringe while sipping something that's labeled wine, but more resembles berry-flavored cough syrup.

This year, don’t let the words 'Kosher for Passover' frighten you. Open your minds and open your glass, I know I will. But rest assured, that customary bottle of Maneshevitz will always have a rightful place at my table, (it makes a mean haroseth) but if it’s poured in a glass, you can be certain I’ll be passing that one to Elijah. So, what wine do you pour at your ceremonial meal? We enjoyed the following tonight (along with a non-Kosher for Passover Oregon Pinot Noir from Oak Knoll—as if I could resist). Until we sip again…


2007 Psagot Edom (Israel): A full bodied Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend. The barrels are aged in the Judean Hills winery cave dating back to the era of the second Temple. Cherries, currant and vanilla was abundant with a silky mouth and spicy finish. The earthy notes additionally complimented one of my favorite holiday recipes:

Mom’s Potato and Mushroom Croquettes 
(Vegetarian & Vegan)

1½ lbs of potatoes - peeled and chopped
5 cups of water
1 onion - peeled and diced
¼ lb of mushrooms – diced
1 tsp of vegetable oil
1 tbsp of water
1 cup matzoh meal
salt and pepper to taste
Vegetable oil for frying
  1. Boil potatoes in water until tender, then drain and mash.
  2. In separate pan, sauté onion and mushrooms in oil and water for three minutes.
  3. In large bowl, mix mashed potatoes, onion and mushrooms, matzoh meal and salt and pepper.
  4. Form 10 croquettes and fry in oil for eight minutes on each side over medium heat until golden brown. Drain on paper.


Portland Charcuterie Project said...

L'Chaim !!!

I'll drink to that.

Happy Passover!!

Anonymous said...

I'm not even Jewish and I've been to a Seder meal. Good post, diverse and fun!


Erin said...

I've always thought Jewish holidays rocked too :) And the whole process of making things Kosher is very interesting to this non-jew. Thanks for sharing!

Palate Press said...

I must confess to an annual youthful indiscretion with the concord grape as well. The search for the Afikomen was always a bit more wobbly than my usual trip around the house. Now that I'm (a lot) older, my palate yearns for something that does not go quite so well with pancakes.

The recipe looks terrific. My vegan wife will be excited to add it to her collection.

Sip with Me! said...

Thanks Todd, Josh and Erin - I really appreciate you taking the time to give me some feedback, glad to know the jewish thing didn't fall as flat as a piece of matzoh!

Palate Press, I'm honored to see your comment here and would love to share hilarious Pesach stories… nothing like a little Had Gad Ya drunk fest! The recipe's awesome, good enough for all year-round. Enjoy and thanks for stopping by my site!

Ben Simons said...

Really interesting post. I remember going to a Seder meal when I was young, but it's been a long time ago. I don't remember anything about the wine, to be honest. :)

Sounds like some great times growing up.