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Drinking wine is one of the important rituals followed during Passover celebrations. Find out all about kosher wine for Pesach in this article.

Passover Wine

Passover marks the freedom of the Hebrew slaves from the enslavement of Egypt. Jews all over the world celebrate this festival with immense vigor and gusto. The Passover season begins on the 15th of the first Hebrew month of Nisan, which corresponds in the month of March or April in the Gregorian calendar. The weeklong Passover holiday includes family gatherings, feasting and merry-making. There many religious rituals to follow on this festival, important ones being Seder, the mediational meal and drinking wines. By customs, all Jews, whether rich or poor, have to drink 4 cups of wine on Passover. These four cups of wine symbolizes the four redemptions promised by God to the Jews. Considering the importance of wine in this festival, various new varieties of kosher wine are produced by the Israeli wine manufacturers every year. Read on further to know more about the kosher wine served at Passover supper.

Wine For Passover

Kosher Wine
Kosher is a special wine used for Passover rituals. This wine is different from other wines in many respects and Passover rituals emphasis that only kosher wine can be used for the rituals. The specifications begin from the selection of fine and extend up to the making process. Kosher wine is prepared according to the rules of 'halacha'. For a wine to be kosher, the vines on which the grapes grow should be at least four years of age. Furthermore, they should be left un-harvested every seventh year. The process of making wine should match with the kosher rules and regulations. A Sabbath-observant Jew (male) should be involved in the whole process of making wine, right from the harvesting of the grapes, through fermentation to bottling and only then would a wine will be considered as kosher. This wine should be kept away from bread, grain and dough to maintain the purity. Also, all the ingredients in the wine recipe, except fining agents like casein, gelatin and isinglass, must be kosher.

One of the most authentic and unique wines found in Israel, Kosher wine is an essentiality for the Jews to celebrate the festival of Passover in the most traditional way. Hence, the Israeli wine is the best wine that one can be obtained for commemorating the Passover holiday. Apart from being unique and genuine, these wines are capable of giving tough competition to some of the finest wine brands of the world.

Frequently served at kosher restaurants and by kosher caterers, this wine is mevushal i.e., cooked or boiled though the origin of this concept still remains enigma. However, Jews follow this with great respect and are very particular about using kosher wine for the rituals. In fact at the beginning, the process of boiling took off most of the fine mold and altered tannins and flavors of the wine. Later, the manufacturers started heating wine to 194F (90C) making the wine cooked one but, will not bubble. This process helped reducing the degree of damage but still, it carried an unconventional taste. With the introduction of flash pasteurization, it is now possible to make kosher wine with minimum effect on the taste.

The Four Cups Of Wine
While serving wine at the Seder meal, four cups are drunk by both men and women symbolizing the four redemptions promised by God to the Jews. The concept of "The Four Cups of Wine" dates back to rabbinical opinions comprised in the Jerusalem Talmud (Pesachim 10:1) which states: "And they should not give him less than 4 cups of wine, even from the charity bin." This signifies that you should treat a person, whether rich or poor, with four cups of wine while celebrating redemption and freedom. Matzah's bland taste symbolized the hardships suffered by the Israelites during the period of slavery in Egypt whereas the rich and strong taste of wine symbolizes the richness and strength acquired by the Hebrews once they gave up the idea of worshipping Egyptian idols and submitted themselves to G-d during their wanderings in the Sinai Desert after leaving Egypt.

The four promises as mentioned in the Shemot or the Exodus are:
  • “I will take you out of Egypt”,
  • “I will deliver you from Egyptian slavery”,
  • “I will redeem you with a demonstration of my power”,
  • “I will acquire you as a nation”.
The first cup of wine signifies Kiddush, the second cup symbolizes the recounting of the Exodus, the third cup concludes Birkat Hamazon and the fourth cup associates with Hallel. Furthermore, there is a fifth cup which is reserved for Elijah the Prophet, known as the 'Cup of Elijah'. The Jews believe that the Prophet visits every house which holds the Passover Seder.