8 Kosher Wine Ideas for Your Passover Seder

The world of kosher wines has changed dramatically over the last several years, which means that whether you’re hosting Passover or you’re a guest at someone else’s seder, picking out wine can be daunting. Here are 8 wines—one sparkling, three white, and four red—that you should feel comfortable opening for the holiday. Cheers! | AGlassAfterWork.com

8 Kosher Wines For Passover

As I discussed with The Swirl Suite a couple of weeks ago, the world of kosher wines has changed dramatically over the last several years, which means that whether you’re hosting Passover or you’re a guest at someone else’s seder, picking out wine can be daunting. Here are 8 wines—one sparkling, three white, and four red—that you should feel comfortable opening for the holiday.

SPARKLING

Deccolio Prosecco – At $14, this kosher sparkling wine from Italy is simple, food-friendly, and refreshing. It’s worth checking out, even if you’re not looking for a kosher wine. Rating 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

Deccolio Prosecco

The Deccolio Prosecco (winery) was a kosher sparkling wine from Italy that is perfect for both the kosher and non-kosher bubbly fan. It was light golden yellow with a lot of good bubbles. Both on the noise and in the mouth, this sparkler had a lot of Granny Smith apples, oranges, and hints of white flowers and honey. It’s simple, food-friendly, and refreshing, and won’t break the bank. I gave this wine 4 corks and purchased it for $14.

WHITES

Ben Ami Chardonnay -- At $10, this kosher Chardonnay from Israel is a nice white wine that would be nice both as an every day wine and as one to open on the holiday. It pairs well with roasted chicken or is enjoyable on its own. Rating: 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Ben Ami Chardonnay

The Ben Ami Chardonnay (snooth) was from Israel and made with 100% Chardonnay grapes. It has a medium lemon-yellow color. This wine is all about tropical fruits—pineapple, guava, and hints of nectarine and lime on the nose with pineapple, honeydew and hints of lime, guava, and mango in the mouth. The wine had a medium body and bright acidity that made for a nice pairing with roasted chicken and mashed potatoes. I gave this wine 4 stars on Vivino and purchased it for $10.

Flam Blanc – At $28, this white wine blend from Israel is full of flavor. Whether you’re looking for a wine to pair with a turkey dinner or to enjoy over a steaming bowl of mazto ball soup, this wine is a fantastic option. Rating: 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Flam Blanc

The Flam Blanc (winery, snooth) was an Israeli white wine blend that tasted full of limes, pineapples, and Granny Smith apples with hints of wet stone.  The wine had a light body and high acidity. It’s a fantastic food wine, just begging to be paired with a turkey dinner, but would also be nice with matzo balls or kugel. I gave this wine 4 corks and purchased if for $28.

Makom Grenache Blanc – At $30, this kosher white wine from California would please any crowd, kosher or not. It’s light-to-medium bodied with an acidity that makes it perfect for opening for a holiday dinner. Rating: 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

Makom Grenache Blanc

The Makom Grenache Blanc (winery) was made by Hajdu Wines. It was a beautiful lemon color with bright citrus, green apple, and something floral on the nose. In the mouth, the lemons were more like lemon curd mixed with apples, wet stone, and a hint of salinity. The wine had a light-to-medium body with good acid. It was a very fresh tasting that is sure to be a crowd pleaser. I gave this wine 4.5 stars on Vivino and purchased it for $30.

REDS

Casa De Cielo Reserve Malbec/Syrah – At $10, this kosher red wine is from Chile and has a quality/price ratio that would be difficult to match. It is a beautiful medium-bodied, well-balanced that is enjoyable on its own or perfect with a grilled London broil and polenta fries. Rating: 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Casa De Cielo Reserve Malbec/Syrah

The Casa De Cielo Reserve Malbec/Syrah was Kosherwine.com’s private label, so it can only be purchased from their website. The wine was a blend from the Maule Valley in Chile. It was a beautiful medium-bodied, well-balanced red with blackberries and hints of cocoa dust and roses on the nose and blackberries, dark plums, tobacco and hints of cocoa and smoke in the mouth. While I enjoyed the wine on its own, it was absolutely gorgeous with a grilled London broil and polenta fries. I gave this wine 4 corks and purchased it for $10.

2011 LaTour Netofa Red – At $35 a bottle, this red wine from Israel is versatile kosher wine that offers a lot in a single glass. It can be used to accompany a holiday meal or just enjoyed on its own while talking the night away. Give it time to breath, and you won’t be disappointed. Rating 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2011 LaTour Netofa Red

The LaTour Netofa Red was is a full-bodied wine made from a blend of Mourvèdre and Syrah grapes. Both the nose and mouth were full of blueberries, blackberries, nutmeg, as well as hints of tea leaves, black pepper, dark chocolate, and dried roses. This was a wine that tasted like it was made to enjoy over a holiday meal with family and friends. I gave it 4.5 corks and purchased it for $35.

2014 Hajdu Wines Brobdinagian Petite Sirah – At $50, this kosher red wine from California is big, beautiful, and defies all the stereotypes about kosher wines. It’s still a touch young, but had nice fruit flavors and was delicious when paired with food. Definitely a wine worthy of a holiday occasion. Ratings 4.5 out 5 stars | AGlassAfterWork.com

2014 Hajdu Wines Brobdingnagian Petit Sirah

The Hajdu Wines Brobdingnagian Petite Sirah (winery) was a big and beautiful. It has nice fruit flavors and was delicious when paired with both a Florentine bistecca and chocolate chip meringue cookies. I actually brought this wine to a BYOB wine lunch with some diverse wine lovers, and not only did no one guess that it was a kosher wine, but also everyone loved it and went back for me. I gave this wine 5 stars on Vivino and purchased it for $50.

2012 Gva'ot Masada – At $80, this kosher red wine from Israel is a special occasion wine worth putting on your holiday table regardless of whether or not you keep kosher. It’s a big, bold, seductive wine that lingers in the mouth, calling for great food, conversation, and another sip. Rating 5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2012 Gva’ot Masada

The Gva’ot Masada was the epitome of a special occasion wine, and I’m in love it. This wine as all about blackberries, black currants, and dark plums mixed with a smokey earthiness, and the slightest touches of dark chocolate, thyme, and blueberries. It was full-bodied with grippy tannins. with a medium-to-full body and nice tannins. This is a seductive wine that lingers in the mouth, calling for great food, conversation, and another sip. I gave it 5 corks and purchased it for $80.

Question of the Day: If you celebrate Passover, have you picked out your wines?  What are you planning on serving? And, where do you tend to buy your kosher wines?

YouTube Famous Talking Kosher Wine with The Swirl Suite

Listen to A Glass After Work talking and drinking kosher wine with The Swirl Suite

Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised about this, but there are A LOT of wine bloggers in the DC metro area. I first met Tanisha (Girl Meets Glass) not long after I started blogging, but little did I know that she had a network of local amazing African-American women who were also wine bloggers. A couple of years after I met her, Tanisha left her desk job in DC for a wine life in Paris. As far as I can tell, she hasn’t looked back since (and I admit I’m green with envy).

Separately, a few years later at one of the Wine Bloggers’ Conferences, I met Sarita (Vine Me Up) and Glynnis (Vino_Noire). Sarita and I, in particular, were surprised that while we end up in similar wine circles and that she’s close with Tanisha, we never crossed paths before the conference. Not only that, but we also live fairly close to each other in DC, to the point that we’ve since met up at the wine bar that we both consider our local spot.

Behind the scenes of my interview with The Swirl Suite

Behind the scenes of my interview with The Swirl Suite

Tanisha, Sarita, Glynnis, Leslie (Vino301), and Melissa (Liquor_Lady) now making up The Swirl Suite and hold monthly discussions online about wine and spirits (you can find them here on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Stitcher, and SoundCloud). Sometimes they live stream and sometimes the conversations are pre-recorded. Sometimes it’s just the 5 of them and sometimes they have guests. Always, though, the conversations are lively, fun, and informative.

As a fan of all 5 ladies individually, and The Swirl Suite in its own right, I was very flattered when Sarita asked me to make a guest appearance to talk about kosher wines. I jumped at the chance. Last Sunday, I talked and drank with The Swirl Suite for 40 minutes, and the time went by very fast. You can watch our discussion here:   http://bit.ly/2nIV7hQ.

Covenant Wines Syrah

Covenant Wines Syrah

Without giving too many spoilers from the discussion, I was drinking the Covenant Wines Syrah, which is a $55 red wine from Israel that I would give 4.5 stars. My review will be posted in the next few days. Glynnis was drinking the Ugav Pinotage, which is a red wine made by Jerusalem Wineries in Israel, and she said the wine would be making a regular appearance in her house. Sarita opened a Cantina Gabriele Pinot Grigio that was not a favorite. Clearly, she and I will have to open another kosher wine together so that she has a better experience…there are so many delicious options out there.

Other wines, wineries, and online wine buying options that were mentioned during our conversation:

  • Deccolio Prosseco, which is a $14 sparkling wine from Italy that I reviewed in August and gave 4 stars.
  • Casa De Cielo Reserve Malbec/Syrah, which is an $11 red wine from Chile, is a silky wine full of dark fruit flavors and with medium tannins and acidity. It’s not very complex, but very food friendly (think steak or other grilled meats) and is perfect for drinking now.
  • 2014 Hajdu Wines Brobdinagian Petite Sirah – At $50, this kosher red wine from California is big, beautiful, and defies all the stereotypes about kosher wines. It’s still a touch young, but had nice fruit flavors and was delicious when paired with food. Definitely a wine worthy of a holiday occasion. Ratings 4.5 out 5 stars | AGlassAfterWork.com

    2014 Hajdu Wines Brobdingnagian Petit Sirah

    Hadju Wines– I mentioned the Brobdinagian, which I haven’t blogged about although I did post about it on Instagram and gave it a 5 rating Vivino. However, I also really enjoyed their Grenache, which is a $50 red wine from California that I gave 4 corks to in October.

  • Dalton Winery, which I’ve reviewed in the past and enjoyed.
  • Kosherwine.com – This is the website that I do almost all of my online kosher wine shopping. The selection is definitely worth checking out.

Question of the Day: Have you ever had a kosher wine before?  What did you think?

 

A Mumm Grande Année to Kickoff a Great Year

Hawaii 2017 photo collate

Top: hubby and me on the balcony of our room at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa on the Big Island before heading out to our 10-year anniversary dinner at the Kona Inn Restaurant; bottom left: reading in the pool and drinking a Maui Brewing Company Big Swell IPA at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa; bottom right: me at Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park.

I know I’m more than a month behind with this, but…HAPPY NEW YEAR! 2017 is a big year in the A Glass After Work household because not only did Hubby and I celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary in January, but also I will be celebrating my 40th birthday in May. And, we started the festivities right away with 12-day vacation in Hawaii for our anniversary followed by a half marathon and party weekend in New Orleans for Hubby’s birthday. In fact, since the start of the year, we’ve spent almost as much time at home as we have traveling, and I’m off again to Nashville for work next week. So, 2017 is off to a crazy start, which is why I’ve been slow about posting. However, there are a lot of fun things to share! With that, let’s talk wine…

Hubby and I stayed in for New Year’s Eve. With all the upcoming travel, we thought a quiet night in while drinking some good bubbly with a cheese and charcuterie board and tasty hors d’oeuvres was what we needed. In honor of our 10-year wedding anniversary and all the exciting things that 2017 has in store, the 2007 Mumm Napa Grande Année seemed like the right choice.

2007 Mumm Grande Année – At $64, it can be hard to justify the price, but this sparkling wine from California is a special one and worth the splurge. It’s the right balance of flirty and serious, of flavor and bubbles. This bubbly is a beautiful sipper that can be enjoyed on its own over intimate conversation or with a romantic, candlelit dinner. Rating 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2007 Mumm Grande Année

The 2007 Mumm Grande Année (winery) is a sparkling wine from Napa Valley, California and is made with 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay grapes. The bubbly had a light golden color with a lot of small, persistent bubbles. On the nose, there were limes, as well as a hint of baked pear and vanilla. In the mouth, there were limes and green apples mixed with hints of raspberries and cream. The sparkler had a light-to-medium body and nice acidity that kept the wine fresh without being overpowering.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At $64, it can be hard to justify the price, but this bubbly is a special one and worth the splurge. That said, it’s actually only available to Club Vivant members through the winery, so that will make it harder to get. However, if you have a chance to grab a bottle, you should. It will bring a smile to your lips as you take your first sip, and whoever you’re sharing with will appreciate the flirtatiousness and drinkability of this sparkler.

As for our night with the Grande Année? It was the perfect sparkler for us. Hubby has started to drink a little, so he indulged in a couple of glasses, and what he found particularly pleasing was that this sparkling wine was flavorful without being overpowered by alcohol. We both thought the bubbly was a beautiful sipper on its own, while also being a nice pairing wine. The acidity and bubbles countered the fattiness from the homemade Mexican chicken and cheese dip, while complimenting the flavors of the Cherry Glen Silver goat and Truffle Gouda cow cheeses. Overall, we couldn’t have asked for a better start to 2017.

Here is hoping this is a “Grande Année” for you all…cheers!

Question of the Day: How is 2017 starting for you? Have you enjoyed any particularly delicious wines, beers, or cocktails?

Price: $64
Purchased at Mumm Napa website
Overall: 4.5 Corks

WBC16 Pre-Conference (Part 5): Last Day in Livermore Valley

Las Positas Vineyard

Las Positas Vineyard

The final vineyard stop on the Livermore Valley pre-wine bloggers’ conference excursion was to Las Positas Vineyard. The gracious hosts not only had space for us to taste their wine, but also the wines from several other wineries in the area. There were also several booths from local businesses. Our schedule up until this point had been crammed full and a little rushed (although I wouldn’t have wanted to cut anything off the schedule!), so it was nice to have a little bit of time to relax and enjoy the gorgeous scenery.

2012 Las Positas Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve – At $68, this California red wine is very non-intrusive. It has medium body, a mix of fruit and spice characteristics, and is definitely meant for food. Rating: 3 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2012 Las Positas Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

2012 Las Positas Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve (winery)
Price $68
Dark ruby color
Plums, cherries, and a hint of spice on the nose
Plums, cherries, tobacco, and hints of clove in the mouth
Medium body and tannins, high acid
I know this wine won the Double Gold at the 2015 San Francisco International Wine Competition and the Silver at the 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, but I was really underwhelmed, particularly at such a high price point.
3 Corks

2013 Heine Petite Sirah by Vasco Urbano Wine Company – At $48, this California red wine is the epitome of big, bold, and beautiful. Just give it a little time to breath and the wine will be one to spend an entire evening getting to know. Rating 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Heine Petite Sirah by Vasco Urbano Wine Company

2013 Heine Petite Sirah by Vasco Urbano Wine Company (winery)
Price: $48
Grapes: 100% Petit Sirah
Cases produced: 100
Dark inky purple
Blueberry, blackberry, and boysenberry syrup on the nose
Add chocolate to that in the mouth
Big, grippy tannins, full body, and good acid
This wine is the epitome of big, bold, and beautiful once it has a little time to breath. There is a lot going on, but its so well balanced that it’s the type of wine I want to spend an entire evening getting to know.
4.5 Corks

2013 Dante Robere Estate Syrah – At $38, this California red wine is one that is a food-friendly wine that you should feel comfortable ordering at a restaurant or grabbing in the store. Nothing crazy different, but solidly enjoyable. Rating 3.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Dante Robere Estate Syrah

2013 Dante Robere Estate Syrah (winery)
Price: $38
Grapes: 100% syrah
Cases produced: 115
Medium-to-dark ruby color
Blackberries, smoke, and cedar on the nose
Blackberries, dark plums, smoke, cedar and baking spices in the mouth.
Medium-to-full body, tannins, and acid.
3.5 Corks

And with that, my final thoughts on Livermore Valley…

Collin Cranor, the winemaker for Vasco Urbano Wine Comapny and Nottingham Cellars

Collin Cranor, the winemaker for Vasco Urbano Wine Comapny and Nottingham Cellars

WOW! There is no doubt, I’ve fallen in love with wine from the area. Admittedly, my favorites were Murrieta’s Well, which I reviewed here, and Vasco Urbano Wine Company, which we didn’t visit, although we tasted their wines at a variety of stops throughout the Livermore Valley trip (my thoughts on their wines are here). Vasco Urbano specializes in Rhone styles (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Petite Sirah, and the delicious blends that can be made from those grapes), so it’s not a surprise that I enjoyed their wines as those tend to be the grapes I gravitate towards. That said, their winemaker, Collin Cranor, does amazing things with grapes, as I also really enjoyed the wines we tasted from Nottingham Cellars—Vasco Urbano’s sister winery. Nottingham Cellars wines are all Bordeaux-style red blends made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot.

All that said, if you aren’t drinking wine from the Livermore Valley, you should be. Whether it’s the larger producers or the smaller producers, the wines are mostly reasonably priced and they are ridiculously good.

Question of the day: When you pick wine for yourself, would you go for the Rhone styles or the Bordeaux styles?

A Storybook Zin for a Not-So-Storybook Day

The first week back at work after vacation is always rough, but last week was particularly so for me. Not only had I spent 10 days out of the office hardly checking email, but also I had already spent more than half of August traveling (some work, some personal) because Congress was on recess for 7 weeks. The pace of work and life had been so much slower, and I was settling into it. But, the start of September also meant the restarting of a frenetic pace. I was averaging 8-10 meetings a day with congressional staff, not counting my internal work meetings and conference calls that started up again now that work is in full swing. Not that any of it’s bad. In fact, despite the chaos, things at work are going really well. However, by the time last Friday hit, I was a combination of wound up tight and exhausted. When I walked in the door, I went straight for a bottle I knew would make me smile and shrug off the stress of the week.

2012 Storybook Mountain Vineyards Zinfandel Estate Reserve – At $68, this wine is not an every day wine, but it is a nice splurge when looking for something a little special.  It’s luscious, inviting, and absolutely lovely…the type of wine you just want to sink into.  Rating 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2012 Storybook Mountain Vineyards Estate Reserve Zinfandel

The 2012 Storybook Mountain Vineyards Zinfandel Estate Reserve (winery) is from Napa Valley, California. The wine was a dark ruby with hints of purple. On the nose, there were blackberries, nutmeg, cinnamon, and hints of cedar. In the mouth, there were blackberries, blueberries, and baking spices mixed with something floral and cedar. The wine had a medium-to-full body, acid, and tannins.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At $68 (or $61.20 if you belong to the wine club like I do), this wine is not an every day wine, but it is a nice splurge when looking for something a little special. It’s luscious and inviting, the type of wine you just want to sink into and enjoy.

I sipped on my first glass while sitting in the living room talking with Hubby about our respective days. The second glass was an amazing accompaniment to Hubby’s burgers with applewood smoked cheddar and polenta fries. And, the third glass, well, that was for snuggling up on couch with an afghan and my book, and I couldn’t have had a better wine for that.

I didn’t end up finishing the bottle on Friday night, and I had two glasses left for Saturday night. The wine it didn’t pair well with dinner (my fault, not the wine’s), but on it’s own, it continued to be absolutely lovely…possibly better on night two than on night one. All in all, it was an outstanding choice to enjoy a Friday night while ushering in the next busy season at work.

Question of the Day: Do you do anything special or have any rituals to help get back into “work mode” after vacation?  

Price: $68 (or $61.20 for wine club members)
Purchased at Storybook Mountain Vineyards
Overall: 4.5 Corks