The spring calendar has many special days that signify rebirth and renewal. For those of the Jewish faith, Passover is a springtime observance that holds great meaning. Passover, a seven or eight-day observance, commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery and their exodus from Egypt more than 3,000 years ago. It is a time for remembrance, and a time to gather with friends and family and share traditional Passover meals—and *wine.
Rebecca Nadler, a veteran Wine Guide and Director with Traveling Vineyard, tells us more about the Passover dishes (and wine!) she shares with her friends and family during the holiday.
During Passover, she says, “we are surrounded by friends and family to remember our ancestors and how they fought for us to be where we are today … Passover meals are meant to be open to anyone that wishes to sit at the dinner. It’s not exclusive to those that are Jewish so people should be encouraged to ask their non-Jewish friends to come over for a meal during the eight nights. The first two and the last two are the most holy.”
At these meals. Rebecca says, dishes are typically made without chametz, any food product made from wheat, barley, rye, oats or spelt that has come in contact with water and been allowed to ferment and rise. In addition to these items, Ashkenazi Jews traditionally prohibit the consumption of kitniyot, which are rice, corn, millet and legumes.
“So, what’s left you may ask? Plenty! It’s like going Paleo with some Matzah,” Rebecca jokes. Here are some the Passover foods Rebecca loves and the wine she loves to pair with them.
“This is a dark and sweet paste put on Matzah … and is made with wine,” she says. “I’ve personally used Double Date Sweet American Rosé.” She says it makes the Charoset as sweet as the optimism it is meant to represent.
Matzah Ball Soup
Who doesn’t love a warm and satisfying bowl of Matzah Ball soup? Rebecca pairs hers with Chardonnay. An un-oaked Chardonnay that is high in acid “would be a great way to balance out the salty broth.” Pinot Grigio would also be a nice match for Matzah.
“This Jewish version of pulled pork is DELISH with a Cabernet Sauvignon or any of our Syrah or Syrah blends. The rub is the key to making this a match made in heaven, but it can also be wine-braised with whichever wine you are drinking.”
Here’s Rebecca’s simple recipe for savory brisket: Place onions, celery, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, tomatoes, tomato paste, and wine in a large pot. Stir to combine; season with salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place brisket on top, fat side up. Cover and braise in oven, spooning all items over brisket every 30 minutes, until meat is fork-tender, 3–3 1/2 hours.
This dish can handle your Cabernet Sauvignon because it’s made with a combination of egg noodles, fruit cocktail, raisins, apples, eggs and margarine. This sweet side dish is also great on its own with an off-dry or semi-sweet wine such as Riesling or Moscatel.
Rebecca refers to this white fish as the “hot dog of the sea.” A Riesling or a fruit-forward Sauvignon Blanc would work very well, she says. “If you are going with the Riesling, add a little horseradish to the dish to balance the sweet.”
Rebecca loves toasted coconut macarons paired with Chardonnay, or a sweet wine. “Flourless chocolate cake is another common dessert at Passover and goes well with any red wine … bittersweet chocolates are meant for our acidic reds.”
This menu has us ready to pass the wine this Passover! A big thanks to Rebecca for sharing her family’s traditional dishes and her favorite wine pairings for Passover. Stop by our Facebook page and share your family’s beloved recipe or tradition with our wine community! From our wine-loving hearts to yours, we wish you a Passover filled with peace, remembrance and togetherness.
*Rebecca tells us that while some people of the Jewish faith purchase only Kosher wine, others choose non-Kosher wine for their holiday. Please note that Traveling Vineyard wine is not Kosher.