We are living in an unprecedented situation. I keep hearing and reading that we are in a world of uncertainty. But that could not be less true. We are all witnessing that despite all the technology and scientific advances achieved and built by Mankind, one thing is quite certain: Mankind does not control the world. No less certain: Hashem is in charge. We schedule conventions, seminars, weddings, Pesach programs, birthday parties… In the end, however, “There are many plans in a man’s heart, but Hashem’s advice will prevail” (Mishlei/Proverbs – 19:21). Once we recognize that Hashem is in charge, it is not only humbling but even more so it is comforting and reassuring for the soul and the heart.
I am not writing in these pages to deliver an extensive d’var Torah. I believe, however, that it is essential to keep in mind that we are not alone and that Hashem does everything for a clear and positive purpose, even when we do not understand it. Not yet, at least. We are all following the news, and the days go by with the constant updates on the coronavirus.
But here we are in the month of Nisan, and Pesach is coming up. That is a certainty, as well. In Nisan, we celebrate our freedom from our enslavement in Egypt, and we receive the freedom of choice, with which we decide to serve Hashem and embrace his Torah. We rejoice in our freedom on Pesach with the four cups of wine. Drinking these four cups is a mitzvah, and it is always recommended to embellish a mitzvah. I have great news for you! This mitzvah is easy to embellish. For us, the Jews of the diaspora, there are two seders, and therefore eight cups of wine. If you live in Eretz Yisrael then you will only have one Seder and four cups. But even then, there are many other meals, both on yom tov and chol hamoed which represent as many occasions to celebrate and drink fine wine for that purpose.
I like using rosé wines for the four cups. Rosé wines are usually lighter, fruitier, relatively moderate in alcohol, and easier to drink. Among some of my favorite rosé wines so far this season are the Herzog Lineage Rosé 2019, a field blend from the Herzog family vineyard in Clarksburg, California. It is light, refreshing, and flavorful, with notes of citrus and tropical fruits, truly delicious. For the first seder, I have the personal custom to only use Israeli wines. The Rosé 2019 from Domaine du Castel is yet again a winner this year. Crisp, aromatic, with floral and stone fruit notes. This one will definitely be part of my seder.
For those who have the custom of drinking white wine for the four cups, the Vitkin Gewürztraminer 2018 is one wine I just cannot recommend enough. It has such a bright and inviting profile, beautifully balanced, dry yet approachable even if you don’t usually drink dry wines.
If you like Chenin Blanc, thanks to the ever consistent and reliable offering from Baron Herzog, then consider also the Netofa Latour White 2018. While it is dry and aged in French oak barrels, it offers incredible complexity without being too sophisticated for the non-initiated drinker.
Now onto the reds. Château Signac 2018 is a great new addition. A blend of Grenache and Syrah from the Rhône Valley which has not seen any oak aging as to preserve the aromas of the fruit, and keep it from being astringent. It is light enough to be considered for the four cups and delivers excellent quality at an affordable price tag. The Or Haganuz Amuka Light 2019 is another must-have this coming Pesach. Thanks to a new technology developed by the winery, this fine, dry Cabernet Sauvignon sports only 9 percent alcohol. It ticks all the boxes: dark fruit aromas, silky, medium-bodied mouthfeel with soft tannins.
Pesach is also one of the holidays on which I enjoy opening a well-aged bottle of red wine. I do realize, however, that not everyone is hoarding wine as I do, or has the room and storage conditions for that. While it will age gracefully for many years to come, the Château Grand-Puy Ducasse Pauillac 2015 is already drinking nicely, with some aged/tertiary earthy and savory notes.
Let’s prepare for a Pesach filled with the knowledge and confidence that God is in charge and even if we might not be able to show our gratitude for our freedom by davening with a minyan, we will nonetheless do our best to enjoy and embellish every aspect of Pesach and the seders. Chag kasher v’sameach, L’chaim!