With ample shopping time before Passover, which begins April 16, this may be the year to switch to a noble varietal wine, asking the questions that recall and spiritually relive the ancient memories over a glass of buttery, indulgent chardonnay or crisp, clean red, rather than Manischewitz or Mogen David, those heavy, candy-sweet red concords.
To be sure, you might not bring about a lasting acceptance of a dignified wine if you pour your uncertain grandmother a glass of a dry, full-bodied zinfandel or a bordeaux, red or white. Rather, offer a Baron Herzog chenin blanc, a best buy at $7 to $8. My notes say, “Wow! a great buy: definitive character, fruit from start to finish.”
With an eye to your own taste you could always pick a bottle of Chateau Giscours off the wine shop shelf (About $20). But remember, it may be too much for grandmother.
What's more, finding a wide choice of Kosher wines no longer requires careful looking about your favorite wine shop. Most carry five or six labels, usually gathered close to one another. Besides Carmel (whose bottles of white wines are sporting a colorful, springtime design) look for Baron Herzog and Herzog Reserve ($30 to $60); Teal Lake from Australia; California's gan eden; Alfasi from Chile (notably chardonnay); from Italy, Bartenura moscato d'Asti and barbera d'Asti; and from the Golan Heights, Yarden and Gamla.
Christians now are preparing for Easter, which follows Passover by just a few days, on April 20. For most that will mean church services, of course, and then a big celebration, so far as possible drawing together the whole family (with a prayer and a tear, as in Jewish observance, for those whom military service has called away). It may be right to say that ideally the Easter entree would be a leg of lamb. But in reality lamb is expensive these days, and besides, there are many Americans who do not like it.
Major alternatives would be beef - a standing rib, perhaps, or a less special but savory pot roast - with which a hearty red wine is as nice a complement as can be imagined. Even those who believe that red wine disagrees with them typically find it altogether different, and agreeably so, when it is treated as an appropriate component of a special dinner. While a cabernet franc seems to me to lack the body to stand up against, say, a standing rib, I'm likely to uncork a really good, old-vines zinfandel.
If, however, a big bird - turkey, goose, duck - or a pork roast or ham is the focal point of your dinner, you will, I believe, best be served by a wine that will slip into place beside the main course, a wine that may be mildly sweet itself - think alsatian (several varietals of which will easily qualify as best buys) - or a german no sweeter than a kabinett, or better yet, a dry trocken or semi-dry halb-trocken.
For all these suggestions, red and white, a special bottle is in reach in the $12 to $20 range.