Come nightfall on Sept. 25, Jews worldwide can raise their cups to a fun commandment.
According to the Shulchan Aruch, a 16th-century code of Jewish laws, there is a mitzvah to “eat, drink and rejoice on Rosh Hashana.”
Gastronomes and bon vivants will likely follow this imperative with panache and little help, but the average High Holiday celebrant may need more assistance. For that reason, local wine sellers and connoisseurs recommended particular vinos to sweeten the new year.
Murray Avenue Kosher’s Aryeh Markovic told the Chronicle that Herzog Be-Leaf, an organic no-sulfite-added cabernet sauvignon is a must-have this Rosh Hashanah.
Markovic called the wine “well balanced and expressive,” while adding that Be-Leaf’s easy drinking and soft nature allows it to pair well with lamb or red meat.
The fact there are no added sulfites is another plus, Markovic added: “There are people who get headaches from the sulfites, so leaving them out makes it easier for some people to drink.”
This time of year, at many synagogues worldwide, staffers and volunteers have swapped out multi-hued Torah covers, ark screens and other ceremonial fabrics for simple white ones.
For wine-drinkers wishing to model similar behavior, and substitute red for white, Markovic has another suggestion.
Chateau De Santenay Mercurey is a “really fine and elegant white burgundy,” he said. Made from 100% chardonnay, it has a “nice taste of golden apples and peaches.”
Markovic added that the “very complex wine” pairs well with fish or chicken.
Baila Cohen — of Pinskers Judaica and Eighteen — told the Chronicle that most people enjoy Moscato d’Asti but, regardless of regular preferences, it’s important to ensure your drink pairs well with honey.
During Rosh Hashanah, many eaters dip apples, challah and other food in honey. One reason for the practice, according to rabbinic literature, is that honey offers a lesson.
Typically, food that comes from an unkosher animal isn’t considered kosher, however, honey holds a different status. Although a bee isn’t kosher to eat, honey is permissible.
The lesson, according to the sages, is that just like an impure bee yields an acceptable byproduct, so, too, celebrants can spend the season creating purity.
Curt Friehs, a Dormont-based wine merchant, said that Rosh Hashanah is a time where “any number of red wines would be excellent.”
Friehs specifically recommends Carmel Mediterranean.
With its blend of five grape varieties grown in Israel, the wine is “excellent,” he said.
Alternatively, those seeking a white wine could opt for Carmel’s sauvignon blanc, which is “really good too.”
Whether online or in the aisles of your favorite merchant there’s often debate about the cost of a decent bottle of wine. For Friehs, the answer ultimately depends on preference: “You could spend $30 or $40, or you can get a really good bottle for under $20. It depends on what you like.”
The real trick is remembering the value that each bottle brings.
“Wine ages well, and it brings people together,” he said. “I say l'chaim to life, to another year. It’s a time to reevaluate priorities and what’s important to you.” PJC
Adam Reinherz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.