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?

Levo Mint – A Sexy California Red

Monday, February 13 was one of those days that got a late start, so it fooled me. I had some emails to answer before my 10:30am staff meeting, but all seemed quiet…until it wasn’t. Halfway through the staff meeting, my email started to blow up. From there, I spent much of my day running from congressional office to congressional office, meeting with staff on a vote that was announced for that week. I enjoy the busy days, but this one shifted from busy to chaotic, which isn’t quite as fun. The benefit of having email on my phone, though, is that once things moved back from chaotic to busy, I was able to make it to my spin class before heading home to open a bottle of wine and pack for my work trip to Nashville.

2013 Levo Mint – At $36, this red wine from California is an incredibly sexy wine that is worth every penny. It’s big and bold enough to enjoy on its own, while turning sultry when paired with food. It’s a luscious wine that will call into question your self-restraint, but leave you with no regrets. Rating: 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Levo Mint

The 2013 Levo Mint (winery) is a red wine blend from California. On the nose, there were blackberries and cigars mixed with hints of black cherry and vanilla. In the mouth, there were blackberries and black cherries with a cigar box and hints of nutmeg and cinnamon. The wine was medium-to-ful bodied with medium tannins and high acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At $36, this is an incredibly sexy wine that is worth every penny. I sipped away at my first glass while packing for my trip. And, while it was delicious, the wine only got better from there. I paired the second glass with Hubby’s slow cooker BBQ pork and grits. There was something about the BBQ that enhanced the depth and smokiness of the wine, making the meal sultry and delicious. I couldn’t get enough. Admittedly, the third glass was just gluttonous, but I was enjoying it too much to have self restraint. All in all, it was a wine worth the indulgence.

November 2016's Wine Bloggers' Conference Scholarship Fund Wine Club shipment | AGlassAfterWork.com

November 2016’s Wine Bloggers’ Conference Scholarship Fund Wine Club shipment

As a side note, the Levo Mint was one of three wines I received as part of “The Wine Bloggers’ Conference Scholarship Fund Wine Club.” This wine club is just $99, and 50% of the profits are donated back to the WBC Scholarship Fund. The scholarship helps wine bloggers attend the annual Wine Bloggers’ Conference, which long-time readers know I think is an invaluable experience for every wine blogger.  The wine club also has a private Facebook group and, since several participants are also wine bloggers there are a number of people blogging about, tweeting about, and holding live tastings of these wines.  So, if you wanted to add a social component to your membership, there are many ways to do that.

So far, I’ve been in love with every wine I’ve received through the club. There are four shipments of three wines from boutique California wineries (we’ve received two shipments/six wines). If you’re looking for an inexpensive, charitable wine club that is going to give you some truly fantastic wines that you probably wouldn’t know about on your own…this is the wine club for you.  Check it out!

Question of the Day: Do you drink wines or belong to wine clubs that donate some of the profits to charity? Do those donations make you more likely to buy the wine or join the club?

Price: $36
Purchased at The Wine Bloggers’ Conference Scholarship Fund Wine Club
Overall: 5 Corks

A Taste of Fall with An Italian Red & Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Cookies

*** I received this wine as a sample. ***

2013 Valle Dell’Acate Il Moro Nero D’Avola & Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Cookies – This $17 red wine from Italy just screams to be paired with delicious food. Whether it’s a more traditional Italian meal, a Thanksgiving dinner, or these Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Cookies, the pairing won’t disappoint. Cheers! | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Valle Dell’Acate Il Moro Nero D’Avola & Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Cookies – This $17 red wine from Italy just screams to be paired with delicious food. Whether it’s a more traditional Italian meal, a Thanksgiving dinner, or these Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Cookies, the pairing won’t disappoint. Cheers! | AGlassAfterWork.com

Last Sunday, Hubby and I ran the local Veteran’s Day 10k. That was our first real taste of cold weather in DC, and it was punctuated with frost on the ground when we arrived at the race’s starting line at 8am. I was in my element…I love running in cold weather. In fact, I ended up running my personal best, shaving a little more than 2 minutes of my previous best 10k time.

After the race, Hubby and I were able to take it easy for most of the day. I got together with my knitting group got together for a couple of hours in the later afternoon, but otherwise, I spent the day at home recovering and baking the last of the fall, pumpkin cookies.

2013 Valle Dell'Acate "Il Moro" Nero d'Avola

2013 Valle Dell’Acate “Il Moro” Nero d’Avola

To go with my afternoon baking, I opened a 2013 Valle Dell’Acate Il Moro Nero d’Avola (winery), which is a red wine made from 100% Nero D’Avola grapes in Sicily, Italy. The wine was a deep ruby red with a watery rim. On the nose, there were blackberries and licorice mixed with hints of cedar and cloves. In the mouth, there were tart blackberries and licorice, as well as hints of blueberries and cedar. The wine had a medium body, medium tannins, and high acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At an SRP of $17, this wine is meant to enjoy with food. Admittedly, on it’s own, it was a little sharp for me, but it was the perfect pizza wine to go with the homemade white pizza Hubby and I made for dinner.  I also made sure to save a glass to taste with the dinner Hubby made on Monday night–turkey-stuffed acorn squash–and the pairing was absolutely outstanding.  With Thanksgiving right around the corner, if you’re looking for a wine that is under $20 and will pair nicely with Turkey Day foods, this is a good option…just make sure it’s the wine you’re serving with dinner and not the wine you open when you’re standing around talking with family.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Cookies

Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Cookies

As for the Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Cookies, they were like biting into a piece of fall. The cinnamon chips intensified the baking spice flavors without overwhelming the pumpkin, making for a tasty fall treat. The cookies were a little crisp on the ends and moist in the center, which was a nice consistency with these flavors.

Overall, the wine and the cookies were a nice match. The acidity from the wine made the spices in the cookies taste fresh, and the cookies added a nice depth of flavor to the wine. They felt like a nice indulgence after the morning’s run.

What are your dessert plans for Thanksgiving Dinner?  Will there be cookies on the table?  And do you have a wine picked out specially for dessert?

Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Cookies – These easy-to-make drop cookies are like biting into a piece of fall. The cinnamon chips intensify the baking spice flavors without overwhelming the pumpkin, making for a tasty fall treat. | AGlassAfterWork.com
Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Cookies
Print Recipe
Servings
40 cookies
Servings
40 cookies
Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Cookies – These easy-to-make drop cookies are like biting into a piece of fall. The cinnamon chips intensify the baking spice flavors without overwhelming the pumpkin, making for a tasty fall treat. | AGlassAfterWork.com
Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Cookies
Print Recipe
Servings
40 cookies
Servings
40 cookies
Ingredients
Servings: cookies
Instructions
  1. In medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  3. Add pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla, and mix until combined.
  4. On low speed, add dry ingredients and mix until just blended (about 30 seconds).
  5. Stir in chips until evenly distributed.
  6. Divide dough in half and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
  7. Preheat oven to 350F.
  8. Line cookie sheets with parchment or silicone mats and place in refrigerator to chill.
  9. In small bowl, mix together sugar and cinnamon for coating.
  10. Remove one of the dough halves to begin shaping cookies.
  11. Take a rounded tablespoon of chilled dough and roll between the palms of your hands to create 1-inch balls.
  12. Roll balls in the cinnamon and sugar mixture until coated.
  13. Place cookies on lined, chilled cookie sheets. Keep cookies about 2 inches apart and press them down so that each is about 1/2 inch high.
  14. Bake for 10 minutes.
  15. Let cookies set on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.
Recipe Notes

*This recipe was inspired by and adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod's Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Cookie recipe

Suggested Retail Price: $17
Received as a sample.
Overall: 3.5 Corks

Chateau Ksara, A Beautiful Fall Wine

*** I received this wine as a sample. ***

2013 Chateau Ksara Reserve du Couvent – At $15, this red wine from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon packs a flavorful punch without breaking the bank. It’s a slow-sipper that is perfect for an evening sitting in front of a fire and reading or enjoying with family over a hearty stew. Rating: 4 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Chateau Ksara Reserve du Couvent – At $15, this red wine from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon packs a flavorful punch without breaking the bank. It’s a slow-sipper that is perfect for an evening sitting in front of a fire and reading or enjoying with family over a hearty stew. Rating: 4 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Chateau Ksara Reserve du Couvent cork
While I work on federal policy and legislation, I don’t really get involved in the campaigns, especially now that I work for an association and not for a member of congress who has to run for reelection every several years. This means that while I end up doing a fair amount of work traveling, overall, the second half of an election year tends to be slow. At first, it’s exciting. It’s nice to have a break from the chaos, take a longer lunch or meet up with a colleague for coffee meeting instead of a frantic discussion in the office. However, after August’s 8 weeks of a slower pace, the downtime was getting old. Sure, that it meant I was able to attend the Wine Bloggers Conference without constantly checking my work phone. It meant that Hubby and I were able to take a 10-day vacation at the end of the month, and I only checked email a handful of times. And, it meant that I was able to leisurely drink a lot of great wine. But, by the time September arrived, I was ready to get back to the regular schedule.

2013 Chateau Ksara Reserve du Couvent – At $15, this red wine from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon packs a flavorful punch without breaking the bank.  It’s a slow-sipper that is perfect for an evening sitting in front of a fire and reading or enjoying with family over a hearty stew. Rating: 4 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Chateau Ksara Reserve du Couvent

One of the wines I lingered over was the 2013 Chateau Ksara Reserve du Couvent (winery, snooth). It was a red wine from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, and it was made with 40% Syrah, 30% Cabernet Franc, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. The wine was a deep ruby color. Both on the nose and in the mouth, there were black cherries, dark plums, and raspberries mixed with vanilla, cocoa dust, and hints of a smokey fire. The wine was full-bodied with firm tannins and high acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At $15, this wine packs a flavorful punch without breaking the bank. I found the wine to be a slow sipper, perfect for an evening sitting around in front of a fire and talking or reading. That said, I think the wine would also hold up nicely to a hearty meal like stew. This, and several other Chateau Ksara wines are actually available in my local Lebanese restaurant, both by the glass and by the bottle.  I’ve ordered several glasses since trying this bottle and have never been disappointed.  So, regardless of whether you enjoy it on its own or with food, Chateau Ksara Reserve du Couvent worth opening and enjoying…especially now that cooler fall weather has arrived.

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

Suggested Retail Price: $15
Received as a sample.
Overall: 4 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?