Blot out evil Haman with these fine wines


Typically on Jewish festivals moderation is called for, since too much of a good thing is, well, too much. But not on Purim.

In the words of Rabbi Yosef Karo in the Shulchan Aruch (he was quoting from the Talmud in Tractate Megillah 7b): “Drink on Purim until one does not know the difference between ‘cursed is Haman’ and ‘blessed is Mordechai.’” For most of us, that’d take a fair amount of drink.

So what to drink? For inspiration, I turned to the Megillah of Esther, where the story of Purim is found.
In the story, after Haman is hanged and Mordechai and Esther get permission for the Jewish people to preemptively kill their enemies, the text lists 10 names amid the carnage, identified as “the 10 sons of Haman.”

On that phrase, Rashi, the biblical commentator, writes: “These are the 10 who wrote a [false] accusation against Judea and Jerusalem, as it is written in the book of Ezra [4:6].” Because the takeaway is that Haman’s sons sought to thwart Jewish aspirations in the land of Israel, it seems to me that drinking Israeli wine would be another way to blot out Haman and his hostile progeny.

Here are some white and red options to consider:

Golan Heights Winery, Hermon Moscato, Galilee, 2016 ($15): Pleasantly aromatic (white peach, green apple, honeysuckle), with enjoyably bright, clean and sweet flavors of stone and tropical fruits, crushed almonds and a touch of spice. Sweet, but balanced and fresh.

Galil Mountain, Sauvignon Blanc, Upper Galilee, 2016 ($17): Rounded, fruity and fresh, with agreeable notes of apple, citrus and a slightly herbaceous quality — could do with a bit more acidity, but is easy and pleasurable drinking all the same.
Carmel, Kayoumi Vineyard, Riesling, Galilee, 2014 ($25): Lovely, medium bodied, aromatic Riesling with aromas of stone fruits, green melon and a little classic petrol, leading to flavors of white peach, tangerine and apple, with nice minerality, zippy acidiy, and bracing acidity. Absorbing and refreshing.

Psagot, Sinai, Jerusalem Mountains, 2016 ($19): This value-driven blend of 55 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, and 45 percent Shiraz is uncomplicated but very likeable; fresh, fruity and food-friendly.

Golan Heights Winery, Yarden, 2T, Touriga Nacional-Tinta Cão Red, Galilee, 2014 ($32): This dense, concentrated, beefy Israeli take on Portuguese table wine is distinctive and yummy, with notes of black cherry, wild berry, plum, pomegranate, chocolate, anise and spice enmeshed in a pillow of French oak and grippy tannins. Lots going on here, but it holds together and performs brilliantly.

Psagot, Peak, Jerusalem Mountains, 2014 ($50): A serious blend of 42 percent Syrah, 42 percent Petite Sirah, and 16 percent Mourvedre, this beauty needs time and air, but once it does, it soars —with a nose full of black fruits and chocolate, and vibrant flavors of blackberry, anise, espresso, vanilla, smoked meat, black pepper and something vaguely nutty; with velvety tannins and a touch of minerality.

Golan Heights Winery, Yarden, Heights Wine (Gewürztraminer), Galilee, 2016 ($25): This charming, full dessert wine is rich and honeyed, with notes of stone fruits, litchi, baked apple, sweet ginger and a sprinkling of cinnamon — all balanced by crisp acidity the finish is bright, clean and lengthy. L’chaim!

Send your wine and liquor questions and challenges to [email protected].

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