Imbiber’s Agenda: How Do You Pick A Good Kosher Wine?

Expert Michael Dumas weighs in.

By: Jessica Voelker

When attending a Passover Seder, we like the idea of bringing a kosher wine to the party so our kosher-keeping friends can partake. However, by reputation many kosher wines aren’t among the tastiest. To help us find some good options, we hit up the obliging Michael Dumas, a serious vino geek to whom this blogger regularly turns for excellent value-driven bottle selections. Dumas can be found assisting customers at Cleveland Park Wines, a neighborhood wine shop that stocks a lot of good cocktail stuff, too—Dolin vermouth, Fever-Tree tonics, Scrappy’s Bitters, and the like.

Here are Dumas’s choices for kosher bottles. Handily, he also offers advice on which wines pair well with traditional Passover dishes such as maror (bitter herbs), charoset (apple-walnut relish), karpas (green leafy vegetables), beitzah (hardboiled egg), and zeroah (roasted lamb shanks).

The big value:

“There is a good, inexpensive brand from Chile—Terra Vega—that is kosher. Terra Vega has a whole line of affordable Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Carménère that sell for $8.99 each. Out of those, my favorite is the Sauvignon Blanc; it has good acidity, good minerality, and a nice fruity mid-palate followed by a slightly spicy, clean, crisp finish perfect for cheeses, grilled chicken, or fish and light salads. Out of the red, I like the Carménère—a light body red wine with nice dark-berry aromas, soft tannins, and a spicy finish that is easy to pair with a variety of foods and is really good with roasted lamb dishes.”

The top five (retail prices from Cleveland Park Wines)

1) 2011 O’Dwyers Creek Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

Marlborough, New Zealand ($16.99)

“This wine has vibrantly fruity and juicy tropical notes with a grassy edge followed by fresh citrus on the mid-palate and a lingering tropical finish—perfect to pair with maror as well as charoset.”

2) 2009 Señorio Aldaz Tempranillo Cabernet Sauvignon Blend

Navarra, Spain ($11.99)

“A nice berry-fruit nose and palate followed by soft, fruity, and earthy tannins and light dark-berry fruit finish. This would pair well with maror and zeroah.”

3) 2011 Chateau de Bonfils Entre-Deux-Mers Sauvignon Blanc

Bordeaux, France ($12.99)

“With a nice herbal nose followed by a citrusy palate and a lingering tropical-fruit-and-citrus finish, this wine can pair well with a variety of foods, especially maror, charoset, beitzah, and karpas.”

4) 2010 Chateau de L’anglais Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux

Bordeaux, France ($27.99)

“This is a Merlot-driven Bordeaux blend with soft, ripe dark-fruit aromas followed by earthy tannins and a big, bold, spicy finish. This makes it the perfect pairing for zeroah or similar roasted meat dishes such as brisket.”

5) 2010 Chateau Bois-Cardon Medoc

Bordeaux, France ($27.99)

“This is a 50/50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from Haut Medoc in Bordeaux. It is a rich and dark wine with slightly smoky aromas followed by a dark-fruit palate with hints of mocha, dark cocoa, and spices. It has a beautifully long, fruity, and floral finish and makes an ideal pair for roasted or grilled heavier meat dishes such as leg of lamb or beef tenderloin.”