Subtle wines on Purim? Sounds a little strange, no? The Purim Seudah requires abundance of responsible drinking (please do not drive afterwards, or have a designated driver accompany you if you are going to friends or family). When drinking big, bold, full-bodied wines one’s palate often gets tired quickly, losing the ability of enjoying more wines after a glass or two.
The solution, I believe, is to broaden your horizons. Sure, with the mitzvah of the Seudah and drinking Ad d’lo yada (to the point one would not be able to tell apart Haman the Persian tyrant from Mordechai the tzadik), Purim is one of the main “wine holidays.”
We learn from Megillat Esther that even when God is not intervening as obviously and publicly as he is with the makot (the 10 plagues of Egypt) or kriyas yam suf (the splitting of the Red Sea), he nonetheless never abandons Am Yisrael, the Jewish people. To the contrary, Haman had plotted to hang Mordechai and eradicate the Jewish People. God however did v’nahafoch hu, he turned Haman’s plans upside down. Haman was hung on the gallows he had built to hang Mordechai, and the Jewish people fought back and won against the mighty Persian army.
So here with wine, let’s do v’nahafoch hu and turn things around, as well. Instead of opening the bottles you have been stashing away for special occasions, keep them for the upcoming Yomim Tovim and go for more approachable, somewhat lighter wines.
I recently had the opportunity to taste many new and interesting wines. Herzog Wine Cellars just came out with Lineage, a series of high-value wines that includes a lovely Chardonnay with tropical fruit notes and subtle creaminess—delicious.
Tabor winery has a lovely, off-dry Mount Tabor Gewürztraminer that is light as a feather, fragrant and restrained with hints of lychee, white peach and rose petals.
Nadiv is a relatively new winery in the Judean Hills. They make fruit-forward wines, showcasing very well the unique richness of Israel’s ancient terroir. Starting with the newly released 2016 vintage, their wines are overseen by veteran winemaker Pierre Miodownick, who for over three decades produced some of the best kosher wines to ever come out of Europe. Miodownick’s experience combined with the Israeli sunshine and soil have yielded the Matan. The Nadiv Matan is a smooth blend that is medium in body and features an elegant mouth-feel with notes of red forest berries, as well as Mediterranean herbs.
Jezreel Valley has an unusual wine made from Argaman, a grape variety that is indigenous to Israel where it was created in the 1970s, a hybrid of the French-Spanish Carignan and the Portuguese Sousão. While the previous vintage was a bit on the heavy side, the newly released 2016 is more restrained and nuanced, making it even more interesting and pleasant to sip. It truly provides an intriguing drinking experience and I highly recommend you check it out!
Mishenichnas Adar marbim b’simcha! When the month of Adar comes in, we shall rejoice! These wines will definitely play their part. Purim Sameach!
By Gabriel Geller
Gabriel Geller is a wine consultant for Royal Wines.