It’s hard to believe that there’s a Jewish holiday that tells us to drink until you cannot tell the difference between the names of Haman (the villain) and Mordecai (the hero along with Esther) during the re-telling of the Purim story, the reading of the megillah. And since Haman’s name is mentioned like every other sentence, it’s likely that we might be consuming larger quantities of alcohol than usual. Keep in mind that this is just to reach the appropriate level of disorientation encouraged during this holiday celebration, not to get drunk and pass out. This is a good time to make sure there’s a designated driver and to choose your wine carefully. The right wines for this occasion take into account price, flavor and even place of origin.
When drinking in larger quantities, price can be a major factor, so the wines I have picked for Purim this year are on the less expensive side. In case you don’t know this, you actually don’t need to spend a whole lot of money on wine for it to be good…although almost anything will taste good by the third or fourth glass. Still, flavor is a focus because you want something that is mild so it does not overpower your palate, but not be too weak that it is bland. As for place of origin, when celebrating a Jewish holiday, it’s always nice to have a taste of Israel.
For those who like to sip and sip on white wines, have a good time and enjoy a value from their bottle, I have chosen Tishbi Emerald Riesling. This is an Israeli wine made of a sweet grape, but also made in a drier style that provides lots of fruit notes, a balance of acidity and some sweetness. Touched with melon and lychee on the nose and palate as well as a hint of citrus, this wine is very fresh and clean to drink and lingers on the palate for just a moment. It can be found regularly in local shops and pairs well with spiced foods or soft cheeses along with the requisite hamantashen.
As for a red wine that has the endurance to last the night and not cause a sugar overload or a quick drying sensation on the palate, I recommend Hai The Patriot’s Reserve Merlot from the Judean Hills of Central Israel. This wine is a very elegant and balanced merlot. It’s very rich and earthy nose will make you wonder if one or two glasses will be all a person can have. However, when tasting the wine, you also enjoy the lighter flavor of blackberries and red currants. Very mild tannins allow for flavors to be balanced and the palate to be clean, not dried out or shot by a blast of heavy tannins stunning the taste buds. This wine is exceptional when paired with lamb and beef brisket.
So grab your Purim mask, but make sure it’s designed to be easy to eat some hamantashen and drink your wines with appropriate dedication to the holiday.