WRITTEN BY PHILLIP SILVERSTONE
So here we are at Passover and Easter.
When I grew up in England it was a devoutly Christian country, now it is devoutly secular. But I knew more about Easter than the average Brit would know about gefilte fish or matzoh balls. Although, to be fair, I’ve met many people in the U.S. just as oblivious to those staples of the Passover table.
The Wine & Spirit Shoppes along the Main Line have a healthy selection of Kosher Passover wines. These are essentially wines made by devout, Sabbath savvy orthodox Jews who maintain strict Kosher rules and regulations, and ultimately pasteurize the wines, by boiling them, which tends to make them very thin and tasteless.
The palate challenging wines seem to go with the unleavened bread — matzohs … during a relatively bland dietary week.
Leo Rosten’s wonderful book “Hooray for Yiddish” retells the story of Mrs. Belovski who stormed into the grocery store and banged an open box of matzos on the counter: “This you call matzos? They’re so hard you need an ax to break them!” “Just a minute” retorted the owner. “If our ancestors, crossing that terrible desert in Egypt, had matzos like these they would have been grateful!” “Sure they would” says Mrs. Belovski, “when they were crossing that desert these matzos were fresh”!”
As far as I am concerned, most wines, especially New World wines, are kosher, since they are made by machines and hardly ever touched by human hands. So whether you’re observing Passover or Easter I would suggest the same wines this year, and nudge you along to the New World section of your local wine store.
Here are my recommendations for the staple entrees of the respective celebrations plucked from my recent selections:
Ham: Bianchi Winery Pinot Noir (Paso Robles, CA) Approximately $22. From their Garey Ranch, in Santa Maria Valley, definitely has the red berry flavor I adore in a good Pinot and with a 10 minute chill from the fridge or ice bucket this would be a great marriage. It has the smoothness of velvet and a yummy aftertaste that sits on your tongue and is a bff you never want to leave.
Lamb: Carmen Carmenère (Colchagua Valley, Chile) Approximately $20. The wine was aged in French Oak so there’s some cedar and lots of red berries in the perfume and a deliciously smooth and rich ripe berry flavor which has been helped by a little Carignan and Tempranillo blended into the wine.
Chicken: Francis Ford Coppola Winery Director’s Pinot Noir (Geyserville, Sonoma County, CA) Approximately $21. The wine has a sumptuous red berry perfume and is velvety smooth, with the same red berries filling your mouth. It is one of the smoothest, tastiest and most memorable Pinot Noirs I have had for many years. Give the man an Oscar!
Brisket: Freemark Abbey Merlot (Napa Valley) Approximately $30. For me, Merlot has always been the best man but never the groom. On rare occasions it does make it to the altar and this is one of those occasions. A tall, dark and handsome groom indeed. Loaded with those seductive dark fruits we all enjoy in our serious red wines.
Happy Easter and Happy Passover and good eating and drinking. Cheers!
Phillip Silverstone’s column appears regularly in this publication. “Time Out With Phillip Silverstone” is a weekly two-hour podcast heard exclusively on TuneIn radio anytime and anywhere worldwide either on the free TuneIn app for all smart phones and tablets (Search: Phillip Silverstone) or online on Tunein at: http://bit.ly/1gY2Ht4. “Follow” the show for weekly updates. You can also LIKE Phillip on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Phillipsilverstone and follow him on Twitter: @wining