It may not yet be able to physically travel to Israel, but you can take a virtual tour through Israel’s wineries. I suggest a different winery for each of the four cups.
Let’s start with Barkan, Israel’s largest winery, which produces 12-14 million bottles a year. Barkan has a beautiful visitor’s center amid the grapevines at Kibbutz Hulda. They offer wines at all price points, and recently won several medals for offering the best Value for Money (VFM.) One of the gold medal winners was for my favorite Israeli Riesling, Barkan’s Beta, from 2018. It also has the advantage of being lower alcohol than most wines.
I know there are some people who only drink red wine at the Seder. If that’s you, I suggest a new red wine from Barkan called Platinum, a 100 percent cabernet sauvignon with intense flavors of red and black fruits, spices and coffee. Just be careful as at 14 percent alcohol you don’t want to be too drunk to finish the seder!
For the second cup, I suggest “visiting” the Carmel Winery, one of Israel’s oldest wineries and founded in 1882 by Edmund James de Rothchild. Like Barkan, there are a series of wines available at all price points. My kids love the low-alcohol and slightly sparkling Buzz, which is kind of like drinking a fizzy wine cooler.
Carmel has several new wines in its lowest priced Selected Series, there is a new semi-dry French Gevurtztraminer, a blend of French Columbard and the German Gevurtztraiminer. It goes down easily with just enough sweetness. There are also a series of wines under the Private Collection label including a pleasant dry rose.
You might also want to try the Carmel Signature series, a series of wines including the Mediterranean Vats, a blend of fruity, drinkable wine that matches the Middle Eastern climate. There is also a Single Vineyard series where each of the wines comes from an individual vineyard. If you want to impress your mother-in-law, spring for the Carmel Limited Edition 2017, a Bordeaux-style blend that spent 16 months in oak barrels.
For the third cup, let’s visit the Recanati Winery, established in 2000. Their aim is to “create a new winery which would produce original, quality Israel wine. The winery’s philosophy is to produce local and original wines, wines that will best express the local terroir,” according to their website.
Recanati also has wines at all prices. Two that might be good for the seder are the Marawi and the Bituni, both based on ancient grapes grown in the land of Israel. The Marawi is a white, low-alcohol wine with a citrusy flavor. If you prefer red, try the Bituni, a light wine with some minerality, also at 12 percent alcohol. Both wines are made from grapes in the Judean Hills near Bethlehem. Both of these grape varieties were almost extinct before they were revitalized.
For the fourth cup, let’s go to the Segal Winery, which was founded in the early 1950s by the Segal Family, who were expert distillers from Russia. In 2001 it was bought by the Barkan winery but has a separate winemaker.
Assuming you haven’t fallen asleep from all this wine, I suggest the Free Run merlot for the last cup to celebrate the Jews’ freedom from Egypt. The Free Run uses only the first pressing of the juice from the grapes. This merlot is round and elegant, and you’ll enjoy every sip.
Hopefully next year you will be able to visit wineries in Israel in person and choose your own holiday wines!