Scott Turnbull is the sommelier and beverage manager at Napa's Michelin-starred, seasonal New American eatery Solbar at Solage Calistoga, a resort in Northern California. In addition to a heavy roster of local and California selections by glass and bottle, Turnbull oversees the restaurant's wineon tap program, an attempt to go green and minimize packaging. Below, he explores appropriate wines for Passover.
Q: I know there's a difference between wine that's kosher and wine that's kosher for Passover. With the holiday approaching, are there any great kosher for passover wines?
An important division to keep in mind is that though all wine that is kosher for Passover is kosher anytime, not all kosher wine can be used for Passover.
Turnbull: With Passover just around the corner, there are more than a few rules to learn about kosher wine and wine that is kosher for Passover, though this can serve as an introduction. For wine to be kosher, its production must be supervised by a rabbi, and have only Sabbath-observant Jewish males handling the grapes from the crushing of the fruit to the bottling of the wine. While yeast is key in the conversion of sugars into alcohol during fermentation, the main difference for wines that are kosher for Passover is that they must be made from yeasts that have not been grown on bread, as well as being kept out of contact with bread, grain, and dough. (In addition to this separation from leavening agents, certain popular preservatives are also forbidden, in order to preserve the sanctity of the wine.)
An important division to keep in mind is that though all wine that is kosher for Passover is kosher anytime, not all kosher wine can be used for Passover. If you are unsure, just check for the certification symbols included on the labels, with a "P" denoting kosher for Passover. There are quite a few other requirements for wines to be kosher, as well as kosher for Passover, but this can serve as a guide to what options you may have. Most importantly, if you are unsure, simply ask your friendly neighborhood rabbi or wine salesperson to clear up any grey areas. Below, some bottles to try:
Tishbi Emerald Riesling, Carmel Mountain, Israel ($11): Full of bright citrus and stone fruit flavors, this wine is a delightful addition to any table. Slightly off dry but with a cheerful acidity supporting shy pear drop aromas, its delicacy is its strength. Charming and refreshing.
Hagafen Chardonnay, Napa ($24): From the south end of the valley, this fuller bodied chardonnay is sure to please. Full of tropical fruit in the nose, with aromas of roasted pineapple and honeysuckle, the palate is rich and creamy with a finish of crème brûlée and baked apples.
Laurent-Perrier Brut Rose, Champagne, France ($80): A classic Champagne, and kosher for Passover? Fantastic! Made from 100 percent pinot noir, its pale salmon hue supports aromas of strawberry preserves, ginger, and cherry blossom, all wrapped around a firm mineral backbone. This is a beautiful wine, and might show how this night is different from all other nights.
Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa ($90): Classic Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from one of our premier producers of kosher wine. Deep black cassis fruit coupled with mocha and cardamom baking spice notes, this is textbook Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2012 vintage was recently been released, so you could lay this down and enjoy it for years to come. (They also make a sister label RED C from grapes from Napa and Sonoma, which is $44 per bottle.)