Happy Passover! To those of you who celebrate, you know that this Jewish holiday is filled with all kinds of special traditions, including the tradition of drinking four glasses of Passover wine at the Seder, the special dinner held on the first two nights of the holiday.
While I was growing up, the only wine in our four Seder glasses was Manischewitz Concord grape wine. This wine’s sweet, syrupy taste was part and parcel of the Passover “tradition.”
Thankfully, in the last 20 or so years, many excellent wine makers are now making kosher for Passover wines. So the sweet, syrupy tradition of old is gradually disappearing – with the exception of its important place in charoset, a wonderful dish served at the Seder that is meant to symbolize the mortar the Jewish slaves in Egypt had to work with.
So at this point you’re probably asking yourself, “What is kosher for Passover wine?”
Before answering that question, let me tell you about the tradition of not eating chametz (leaven) on Passover and instead eating only matzah (unleavened bread). This tradition is meant to represent the haste in which the Jews left Egypt some 3,500 years ago. According to chabad.org, “Matzah is the symbol of the Exodus … And the flip-side of eating matzah is getting rid of chametz.”
This leads me back to the question of kosher for Passover wine. In Jewish tradition, there is non-kosher wine, kosher wine and kosher for Passover wine:
- Non-kosher wine: Non-kosher wines aren’t created under the supervision of Jews who are Sabbath-observing, and they might contain ingredients that aren’t kosher.
- Kosher wine: Kosher wines are created under the supervision of Jews who are Sabbath-observing and contain only ingredients that are kosher.*
- Kosher for Passover wine: Kosher for Passover wines bear the additional responsibility of being created without the use of bread mold for the yeast used in fermentation. In other words, kosher for Passover wines are kosher wines that are created using yeast from a source other than bread mold. It is often made from sugar or fruit. Kosher for Passover wines also will not contain preservatives that are common in winemaking like potassium sorbate. Kosher for Passover wines are kept away from grains and breads, as well as dough.*
If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area and are interested in discovering some wonderful kosher for Passover wines, please check out Molly Stone’s, a great grocery store that not only offers a fantastic selection of Kosher for Passover wines but also a fantastic assortment of Kosher for Passover foods.
Chag Sameach (Happy Holiday)!