Searching for a bottle to take to a Seder? Here are a few suggestions either to accompany dinner or to take as a gift to your hosts. The Cask at 8616 W. Pico Blvd. in Los Angeles (310) 205-9008 has the best selection of kosher wines and spirits around. But kosher products are increasingly finding a space (or a shelf) in many fine wine shops as well. To find out if any nearby shops carry these products, check winesearcher.com. You can plug in the wine and/or spirit and your ZIP Code and search to find the source nearest you.
NV Freixenet Excelencia Cava Kosher Brut ($15)
Spanish sparkling wine producer Freixenet has just released a kosher Cava in the U.S. Made from Macabeo grapes, Excelencia Kosher Brut is a bright, fruity sparkling wine with floral aromas and notes of pears and apples aged 15 months. An excellent choice as an aperitif, it's also a fine accompaniment for seafood.
2011 Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon ($90)
Napa vintner Jeff Morgan shot onto the scene in 2005 with the release of his first Covenant from the 2003 vintage, a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that could stand with the big boys and garnered some high points from Parker and Wine Spectator. And yet it was kosher. Pretty much every vintage has been a knockout. Expensive, yes, but if you show up with a bottle of Covenant, it's a very serious gift.
2013 The Tribe Chardonnay Lodi ($32)
The Tribe is a new line of kosher mevushal wines from Jeff Morgan of Covenant Wines, known for its excellent Napa Valley Cabernet (which just happens to be kosher). Both reds and whites from the Tribe project are barrel-fermented in French oak with native yeasts. The Chardonnay is crisp and fresh with hints of apple, pear and quince. Kosher-for-Passover.
Sukkah Hill Spirits Etrog Liqueur ($32)
Howard Witkin makes artisanal kosher liqueurs in Marina del Rey from heirloom fruit sourced from small family farms. Sukkah Hill Spirits Etrog is a citrus liqueur that features the ancient Etrog citron (Citrus medica) grown in the Sequoia foothills. Lightly sweet, Etrog liqueur is extravagantly scented with citrus blossoms, lovely to sip after dinner. He also makes Besamin, an aromatic liqueur with notes of vanilla and warm spices such as clove and cinnamon. Serve chilled over ice or as a base for a cocktail. Kosher-for-Passover.
Distillery No. 209 Kosher-for-Passover Gin ($26 to $40)
Fifteen years ago, Napa Valley wine producer Leslie Rudd discovered an old distillery just off the Silverado Trail and revived it to make small-batch gin called Distillery 209. That now has a fraternal kosher twin called No. 209 Kosher-for-Passover Gin. Rudd and his "ginerator" Arne Hillesland couldn't use the exact formulation as their original model (the cardamom used in No. 209 gin isn't kosher, for example, nor is any grain-based spirit). The kosher version is based on juniper from Tuscany, plus eight or more botanicals that adhere to kosher dietary law. These include bergamot orange from Calabria, Italy, California bay leaf, lemon peel from Spain, cassia bark from Indonesia, angelica root from Britain and coriander seeds from Romania. Kosher-for-Passover.
Aviv 613 Vodka
Certified kosher, but not Kosher-for-Passover, Aviv 613 Vodka from Israel made its California debut in the Oscar swag baskets this year. This luxury vodka is distilled from ingredients mentioned in the Old Testament, i.e., wheat, barley, olives, figs, dates, grapes and pomegranates. The water used in it comes from the Sea of Galilee. That's quite a pedigree, no? Ready for cocktails around the holiday or throughout the year. Very new to the market and not widely available yet; check with your liquor store or wine shop. Or contact www.avivvodka.com.
Lauretana Mineral Water from Italy
On Saturday, I was touring the warehouse at Italian food and wine importer Guidi Marcello in Santa Monica, talking to owner Marco Guidi. And as we passed a stack of boxes of mineral water, he pointed out that Lauretana mineral water, which he's been carrying for some 30 years, is kosher. Yep. The symbol for certified kosher (U) is printed right on the label. The water comes from the Italian Alps that slope down to the entrance of Aosta Valley. The stylish glass bottle was designed by Paolo Pininfarina, the designer of Ferrari and other elite sports cars. Classy.