The Fifth Question: What Wine Will We Serve?

Tradition! Passover is my favorite Jewish holiday. I love setting the Seder table with my mother’s china, grandmother’s candlesticks, great grandfather’s kiddush cup, and my new Miriam cup, a cherished gift from the Skirball volunteers corps.

Each year at our Seder, my family re-tells the story of our ancestor’s liberation from slavery to freedom and its relevance in today’s world. In addition to the youngest grandchild chanting the four questions, one of my daughters, who has engagingly led our Seder for many years, composes a fifth question that is sent in advance to all those attending. Everyone is encouraged to prepare an answer in whatever style is comfortable—in song or poetry, humorously or seriously—which then becomes the occasion for lots and lots of animated conversation. It is satisfying to celebrate with family and friends. Together with children and grandchildren, we prepare from memory familiar Passover family recipes and look for creative new ones to grace our Seder table.

Manischewitz is a popular choice, but there are other fine kosher-for-Passover wine options as well.

Manischewitz is a popular choice, but there are other fine kosher-for-Passover wine options as well.

But first we conduct two searches: first, for chametz (leavened foods), which we always find and make sure to remove from the house for Passover; and second, for a really good, new, balanced, fruit-forward, satisfying, full-bodied or light, bright, kosher-for-Passover wine. And yes, there are really good kosher-for Passover-wines. My husband and I have been blind-tasting wines with a group of friends monthly for the past forty years, and we think we can make some educated recommendations.

For one, we like the Hagafen White Riesling, Lake Country 2009, from California—but then all Hagafen wines are good. There is also a very good French Herzog Reserve Vouvray 2009. For a red, the Yarden Mt. Herman, Galilee 2009, from Israel is a winner. They are all moderately priced and available in wine stores and kosher markets.

With wine selections made, we’ll be ready for our Seder. This year the younger children and grandchildren, ages 8–13, will be composing their own fifth questions, which will all be discussed. Being taught to think critically, they will pose questions that follow along the lines of:

Would you follow a leader who told you to trust him and God and walk into a sea that he would part by raising his hand?

Well, after days of planning, cleaning, shopping, cooking, greeting, meeting, seating, and eating with what has now grown to thirty Seder guests—and let’s not forget the drinking of the four cups of wine—like Nahshon I just might go first.

Chag Sameach!

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