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Ad Convivium: Wines for Communing

by Karina Roe

Winemaker Steve Matthiasson offered up a nugget of wisdom on Instagram (where I get all my best inspiration) a while back: “A bottle of wine is the campfire you talk around.”

It’s true. A good bottle of wine is never meant to be drunk alone. History tells us, in fact, that one of the reasons a 750 ml bottle size was decided upon in 18th century England was because it was the perfect size for two people to share. (The other reason was that early glassblowing techniques didn’t allow for anything bigger than that, but that fact doesn’t add to the romantics of this particular blog post.)

From wine’s most ancient origins, the emphasis has always been on its place within any given community of people. We “commune” with wine, as we do with food—from religious settings, to holidays, to celebrations, to supporting each other during life’s more somber moments.

Food and wine draw people together, and they become the catalysts for conversation, contemplation, and deepening of relationships. Easter and Passover are perfect examples of these things—in fact, these particular observances exist for these very purposes. Keep reading below for Sam’s thoughts on the traditions of Passover and some little-known merits of Concord wine.

Whatever your traditions for this time of year might be, I hope there are a few good bottles of wine on your table. May they foster love, friendship, energy, and excitement for this season. Cheers!

soter-rose.jpgWines for Ham:

The France 44 Cheese Shop has some out-of-this-world smoked ham available for your Easter Sunday brunch gatherings, and we’d suggest a deep, full-bodied dry rose like Soter Rose from Oregon, a fresh-fruited California Pinot Noir like Fable, or perhaps the Altenburger Blaufrankisch if you’re up for something a little different (re: slightly earthy, minerally, and ultra-delicious).

Hedges DLD Syrah 2012

Wines for Lamb:

Sourced from Hutchinson, Minnesota’s The Lamb Shoppe, the Meat Shop has some great options for lamb a hundred different ways. Pick up a bottle of biodynamically-farmed Hedges Syrah from Washington State, a silky-smooth Vina Real Rioja Reserva, or the ever-popular Domaine Courtois Cotes du Rhone from southern France.


Stadt Krems Gruner Veltliner 2016

Wines for Deviled Eggs and All Things Brunch:

The deli case next door has a plethora of gorgeous deviled eggs on display,  including topping choices of asparagus, chives, or bacon. You’ll need something snappy and crisp to go with these delectable morsels, as well as any kind of quiche or brunchy items. We’d suggest the Borgo Maragliano Brut Chardonnay from Italy, or maybe the Fritz-Muller Muller Thurgau if you’d like just a touch of spritz. Stadt Krems Gruner Veltliner from Austria is a no-fail choice, especially with asparagus.

A Better Reason To Buy Kosher Concord

by Sam Weisberg

Manischweitz Concord

It’s an open secret by now that Manischewitz Concord wine ($7.99/750ml) is not, in fact, a Biblically-mandated type of suffering for the Jews, but one that we have inflicted upon ourselves. As a slew of articles reminds us each year, high-quality, dry Kosher wine is now available in quantities not seen since the Exodus.

Galil Mountain Cabernet 2016

But, before you Mambo-away-from-that-Shevitz, consider the glass of red Concord for what it really is: wine made a stand-out grape variety that is entirely American and distinctly different from most of the wine sold in the world. After all, Concord grapes are not part of the Vitis vinifera species, but belong instead to the native American species Vitis lambrusca. It doesn’t sound like such a big deal, but when you consider that every other wine we sell at France 44, from Syrah to Pinot Noir to Chenin Blanc, is made from a Vitis vinifera grape variety, that bottle of Concord starts to look a bit more interesting. So, if you’re dreading opening this year’s obligatory bottle (and why not switch it up with Mogen David at $6.99?) try considering that sickly-sweet taste in a different light; not a replacement for the dry, European-style reds we love, but a hardy, resilient sweet wine that, like the American Jews who popularized it, has held fast to its unique identity.

For other Kosher wines of the better-known Vitis vinifera family, try out Gilgal Riesling, Galil Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, or for Mevushal options try Barkan Chardonnay or Pinot Noir.