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

Expert Michael Dumas weighs in.

Photograph via Shutterstock.

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
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
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

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

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
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.”