Traditional Passover fare is unquestionably some of our favorite in the Jewish culinary canon. But as much as we eagerly anticipate eating tomato and onion-sauced brisket and schmaltz-slicked matzoh balls come April, we’ve always been ambivalent about knocking back Manischewitz, especially (as required during the Seder), four sticky sweet glasses of it in a row.
That’s why we turned to Rick Bruner of the contemporary kosher steakhouse Reserve Cut, for the 411 on alternative (but still holiday-appropriate) bottles that really put the purple stuff to shame. And the best part is, each is flash-pasteurized, a process that qualifies the wine as mevushal, allowing it to be subsequently handled or poured by someone outside of the faith. Which means our Christian hubby can thankfully maintain control of all of the corking and decanting; a skill we never quite mastered through all our years of simply popping the tops off of Manischewitz.
2009 Auteur Phillipe Lichtenstein Cabernet Sauvignon $37 at Gotham Wines & Liquors
Referred to as “The Secret Wine” in Israel, this Cabernet Sauvignon is from the Arza Winery, established in 1847 outside of Yerushalayim. It’s been aged for 14 months in French oak barrels and has flavors of black currants with hints of herbs and vanilla.
Rick Says: “This 100% Cab is really fruit forward, so it goes great with smoked, sweet brisket or any of the beef dishes common during Passover.”
2010 Teperberg Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon $15 at Heights Chateau
The Teperberg winery was the first family winery founded in Israel in the Judean Mountains. This wine is medium to full bodied with black fruits and plum aromas on the nose.
Rick Says: “For someone who doesn’t like as much fruit, the Teperberg has appealing, vegetal notes, and is lighter in body than the Auteur Phillipe Lichtenstein Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s also quite affordable, capping out at $20 per bottle.”
2006 Hagafen Napa Valley Pinot Noir $25 at Park Avenue Liquor
This full-bodied wine has a soft and silky structure coupled with spicy and complex strawberry jam, black cherry, and boysenberry that finishes with notes of roasted coffee and toasty cocoa.
Rick Says: “This is one of best mevushal Pinot Noirs out there. Since Pinot is so thin and light bodied, a lot of times you kill it when you put it through the pasteurization process. But Hagafen figured out a way to make a quality product that really stands up. Serve it with roasted chicken, paired with carrots and potatoes.”
2013 The Tribe Chardonnay $32 at Vintage Grape Wines & Spirits
This fine-tuned Chardonnay is from Covenant Winery, and all grapes come from a single vineyard in Lodi California. Barrel fermented in French oak, the wine has a crisp acidity, which supports flavors of citrus, apple, pear and quince.
Rick Says: “It’s the first time this renowned winery has ever ventured into mevushal wines. Delicious and not too heavy and buttery, this has a lot of citrus fruit notes, which is not commonly found in Chardonnay.”
Reserve Cut: 40 Broad St., (212) 747-0300