Passover, the Jewish holiday that commemorates the Israelites' exodus from ancient Egypt, begins at sundown on Saturday, April 19, meaning that observant families the world over are busy making plans for their seder meals—which should naturally include plenty of high-quality kosher wines. Gone are the days that carefully-prepared traditional family meals were accompanied by sticky-sweet, mass-produced kosher wines: These days, the range of sophisticated kosher wines on the market is ever-increasing in both quality and quantity.
It's also easier than ever for home cooks to access high-quality seafood, specialty imported products and exotic fruits and spices that can contribute some new flavors to the traditional seder table. Todd Aarons, executive chef of Tierra Sur, the on-premises restaurant at the kosher Herzog winery, has shared three of his recipes that are inventive, crowd-pleasing and kosher for Passover. He's also provided pairing suggestions. Use one recipe to complement a classic menu of matzo ball soup, brisket and potato kugel, or make them all to start a whole new tradition in your family.
Recipe: Mediterranean Hamachi Seviche
In this composed first-course dish, meant to be served family style, pristine slices of hamachi (also known as Japanese amberjack or yellowtail) are arranged atop a piquant citrus, mustard and shallot sauce and garnished with spicy jalapeños and fresh cilantro. Aarons suggests Sauvignon Blanc or Chenin Blanc for the match, calling it "a pretty straightforward pairing" because of the wines' citrus notes. He adds, "While it's hard to pair a wine with jalapeño, the refreshing quality of either a Chenin Blanc or a Sauvignon Blanc offsets the heat well." See the list of wines below below for our recommended Sauvignon Blanc and more.
Braised lamb shoulder makes a sophisticated, satisfying Seder meal.
Recipe: Pomegranate-Braised Lamb Shoulder with Fava Beans
This wonderfully fragrant braised lamb dish is redolent with spices and gets a boost of Middle Eastern authenticity from a braising liquid based on fava beans and pomegranate molasses, a highly-concentrated syrup made from pomegranate juice and sugar that's available in Middle Eastern and health food stores. Pairing wine with this dish could go two ways: To match the spicy notes of this dish, Aarons recommends a Syrah or a Rhône-varietal based red; a Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet-based blend will also work well with the bold flavor of the lamb. See the list of wines below for our recommended kosher red wines and more.
Recipe: Molasses-Cured Salmon
This unusual salmon preparation requires some advance planning, but the results are worth it—the cure brings a great balance of sweet, sour, herbal and earthy flavors to a classic holiday fish. It's suitable for a first course, main course, or as a daytime meal to be served throughout the Passover season. Chardonnay is the perfect match for this dish, according to Aarons, who says, "The vanilla and oak flavors common to Chardonnay complement the smoke, coffee and burnt sugar flavors of the molasses, and the wine's acidity will cleanse the palate after the richness of the fish." See the list of wines below below for our recommended kosher Chardonnay and more.
In addition to the recipes above, be sure to check out all the other recipes from the Wine Spectator archive that are suitable for the holiday (providing, of course, that all relevant ingredients are designated kosher for Passover), including Poached Beef Tenderloin, Lamb Chop Provençal with Confit of Rosemary Potato and Moroccan-Spiced Chicken, plus great side dishes like Asparagus Salad with New Potatoes and Savory Zucchini.
No matter what's on your holiday table this year, we wish all of our observing readers and their families a happy and healthy Passover.
|CAPÇANES Montsant Peraj Ha'Abib 2003||90||$42|
|Kosher. Offers a plush texture over a solid foundation, with black plum, coffee, licorice and mineral flavors supported by muscular tannins that give way to spices and licorice notes on the long finish. Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignane. Best after 2008. 1,100 cases made. From Spain.
|TEPERBERG Meritage Judean Hills 2005||86||$16|
|Kosher. There's plenty of firm red plum and berry flavors in this medium-bodied red, with chocolate and spice on the finish. Drink now. 2,000 cases made. From Israel.
|BARON HERZOG Chardonnay Central Coast 2005||87||$13|
|Kosher. Pretty apple blossom and honeysuckle notes are fragrant, giving this softly juicy wine some character, with ripe peach and tangerine flavors. Drink now. 17,082 cases made. From California.|
|HERZOG Chardonnay Russian River Valley Special Reserve 2005||87||$30|
|Kosher. Flinty mineral, green apple and hints of herb form the core flavors. Balanced, focused and persistent. Drink now. 1,406 cases made. From California.
|GOOSE BAY Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2006||85||$18|
|Kosher. Green apple, lime and grass flavors have very good concentration and crisp acidity accented by lingering stone undertones. Drink now. 4,000 cases made. From New Zealand.
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