For many Jews, the approach of Passover brings mixed feelings. There’s much excitement about this important spring festival as we gather to recount the dramatic story of the Israelites’ escape from 400 years of slavery in Egypt. It’s a joyful time for friends and family to feast together in celebration of our precious freedom.
But…the holiday’s strict dietary laws means Passover calls for a lot of prep work: deep cleaning, swapping out dishes and cookware, and planning and shopping for eight days of kosher-for-Passover meals – including elaborate Seder dinners. Oh, and it’s customary to drink four cups of wine at the Seder.
Well, the clock is ticking; Passover 2020 starts at sundown on Wednesday, April 8. And while ROYAL WINE can’t help with the cooking and cleaning, they’ve got you covered when it comes to quality kosher wines of every kind and every price range.
Wine expert Gabriel Geller, Director of PR and Manager of Wine Education for Kedem/Royal Wine Corp, offers his insights and top picks for Passover 2020 so you have one less thing to stress about.
Q. What’s new for this year’s Seders and everyday meals?
First, let me say that there’s currently an excellent variety of notable and intriguing wines out there. The kosher wine market is thirsty for innovation. Every year we see new advancements in terms of grape varieties, styles of wine, and high quality-price-ratio. That’s the name of the game. As for specifics, we’re very excited about Or Haganuz Amuka Light, a fine, dry, and affordable Cabernet Sauvignon from Israel’s Upper Galilee with only 9% alcohol by volume. Herzog Lineage Pinot Noir is a well-made, medium-bodied wine from California’s Clarksburg wine country, and you can’t go wrong with Jezreel Valley Rosé, a refreshing wine made from Mediterranean varieties. If you’re looking for a great white wine, Château Gazin Rocquencourt Blanc is a complex white from the Pessac-Léognan region in Bordeaux. And of course, we’re thrilled to introduce the new Bartenura Moscato in cans!
Q. What are Royal Wine’s best-selling wines?
People love the Bartenura Moscato, which is one reason we’re releasing it in cans. The Barkan Classic Pinot Noir is extremely popular as are Jeunesse Cabernet Sauvignon, Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc, and wines from highly esteemed houses such as Baron Herzog Chenin Blanc, Herzog Lineage Choreograph, and Barons de Rothschild Haut-Médoc. These are all kosher for Passover and year-round.
Q. What are some current trends in the kosher wine industry?
We’re seeing innovation in sparkling wines, rosés, and “exotic” grape varieties like Albariño, Carignan, Marselan, and Mourvèdre. But these developments are happening across the wine industry, not just in kosher wines. As we’ve been telling consumers for years, kosher wines are no different than other wines, aside from the kosher supervision.
Q. When do think the kosher wine industry really took off?
Some 10-15 years ago, when people who are now in their 30s through 50s got into wine as a cultural and social beverage rather than as only sacramental wine used only on the Sabbath and holidays. They grew up with the first generation of quality kosher wines, which started reaching the market in the 1980s-90s.
Q. Do non-kosher people buy kosher wine?
Yes, of course. As I said, kosher wine is no different and just as good as wines that are not kosher certified.
Q. What do you see for the future of kosher wines and spirits?
There will be more quality kosher wines produced by leading wineries in California, France, Italy, Spain, New Zealand, and of course Israel. More grape varieties and special blends will become available with increasing quality across the board, including wines that will retail from below $10 to up to $500, perhaps even more. New packaging, including cans, will be in greater demand. As for spirits, tequila and rum are two categories that are steadily growing more popular among the kosher consumers.
Q. What brands does Royal own and why you think they have become the leader in the industry?
Royal Wine Corp. imports and distributes over 100 different brands of wine from more than 15 major wine growing regions around the world. The Herzog family, who owns and operates the company, had the vision early on to produce and source quality wines from all over the world, changing the kosher wine industry forever.
Q. Back to Passover: any further recommendations?
Absolutely. Domaine Les Marronniers Chablis 1er Cru 2018, Château Gazin Rocquencourt Blanc 2018, Château Giscours Margaux 2017, Barons Edmond-Benjamin de Rothschild Haut-Médoc 2016 30th Anniversary Edition, Herzog Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Calistoga 2016, Alfasi Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, Segal Wild Fermentation Chardonnay 2018, Jezreel Valley Gewurztraminer 2019, Tabor Adama Roussanne 2019, Binyamina Chosen Petite Sirah 2014, and Domaine Villebois Pouilly Fumé 2019. To name a few.
According to Jay Buchsbaum, Director Wine Education and VP Royal Wine Corp., “Easter and Passover both are lunar based holidays, and many Easter celebrations look for wines from the holy land such as Carmel and Barkan, both Israel-based wine companies. They are widely available, and priced right with high wine scorings.”