Happy Passover! This is the Jewish holiday that commemorates the Jews being freed from slavery in Egypt some 3,500 years ago. During the holiday, we have all kinds of fun observances, including eating matzoh (unleavened bread) and all kinds of other wonderful foods like charoset, an apple/nut/cinnamon/wine mix that is meant to symbolize the mortar used by the Israelite slaves when they laid bricks for Pharaoh’s monuments. On the first two nights of the holiday, we have a ritual meal called a seder where, believe it or not, we are supposed to drink four glasses of wine! When I was a child, those four glasses were sweet, syrupy Manischewitz concord grape wine. Thankfully, as an adult, I’ve gotten to enjoy many wonderful Passover wines. They probably existed when I was a kid, but my family was really into the tradition of sweet alcoholic juice.
The Dietary Laws of Passover
On Passover, Jews eat a leaven-free diet. This is to commemorate the haste in which the Jews left Egypt after being enslaved for 400 years.
Beyond the leaven-free diet, there are thousands of incredible recipes that have been created for the holiday. With the internet, you can quickly find 10 or more great sites to search for recipes.
As a result of the amazing food options available, many Jews eat holiday-specific food for the entirety of the eight-day holiday.
We also drink wine that is specifically prepared (made kosher) for the holiday. For a wine to be considered kosher (acceptable) for Passover, it needs to be certified that it hasn’t had any contact with leavened goods. Now we do buy one bottle of Manishewitz, because that is the wine that is needed for charoset.
Drilling Down Further into Kosher Wine
It turns out that there are three levels of kashrut (the act of being kosher) for wine.
- Non-kosher wine: Non-kosher wines aren’t created under the supervision of Sabbath-observing Jews, and they might contain ingredients that aren’t kosher.
- Kosher wine: Kosher wines are created under the supervision of Sabbath-observing Jews, and they contain only ingredients that are kosher.
- Kosher for Passover wine: Besides being kosher, kosher for Passover wines bear the additional responsibility of being created using yeast from a source other than bread mold. This is typically sugar or fruit. They also don’t have preservatives that are common in winemaking like potassium sorbate. Finally, kosher for Passover wines are kept away from grains and breads and dough.
Finding Good Wine and Food for the Holiday
If you’re in the Bay Area of California, Mollie Stone’s offers a fantastic selection of kosher for Passover wine (along with a great selection of Passover foods), including wines from California, Israel and Franc, and food.
Chag Sameach (Happy Holiday)!
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