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Last year, I talked about the challenges of being confined during the Passover holiday. This year, however, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. One would naturally hope this Passover is a celebration of our liberation from both spiritual and actual confinement. The four cups of wine we traditionally drink is a perfect way to celebrate our freedom.

During the festive Pesach seder, we retell the story of our ancestor’s liberation from Egypt. An essential part of the seder is asking questions relating to central events of the our captivity and the miracle of our redemption. These events happened more than 3,000 years ago, yet each and every year we contemplate how we left our own personal “Egypt” this year.

Moreover, throughout Jewish teachings there are many references to the significance of wine. A prime example is the Passover seder. The four cups of wine that we drink on seder night represent four different expressions of redemption used by G-d when delivering the Jewish people out of Egypt. Similarly, over this past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented us all with unexpected challenges and obstacles that constitute some of the vicissitudes that life brings.

Further to this, as we drink these four cups of wine, while contemplating our own personal limitations and pondering ways to overcome our challenges, we try to glimpse our own personal redemption. The four cups of wine we drink at seder help us visualize a light at the end of a tunnel. Despite the struggles and obstacles, redemption awaits us.

So many different foods are often served at Passover it is difficult to make a specific wine recommendations.

Generally, drink what you like.

White Wines

Sweetish will work with diverse, often sweet dishes. The ever popular, slightly sparkling Moscato is a wise choice.

So is off-dry still Chenin Blanc.

If you prefer a dry white wine, chose a high acid varietal that will cut the unctuous mouth-feel of most Passover foods. Sauvignon Blanc fits the bill.

Red wines

High acid, spicy and wines with distinct flavor profiles make sense on the Passover table.

Consider the Italian miracle Barbaresco. One of the most food friendly red wines in the world, it is tannic, acidic and delicious. On contrast, the easy drinking low tannin, high acid French Beaujolais, made from Gamay grapes is another great all-around choice.

The California specialty Zinfandel is big, bold and brash. We are talking about the red one of course. There is nothing quite like it.

Finally, Shiraz, also known as Syrah, known for its full body, herbaceous and peppery flavor is another great choice. This wine is available from the New World and Old. Israel produces many excellent versions of this wine.

Chag kasher v’sameach!


Andrew Zashin is a wine collector and contributor for the Cleveland Jewish News.

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