Pesach wine tips from the experts!

Pesach wine tips from the experts!

For the four cups – and a fifth for the prophet – James Martin asks the experts for their wine recommendations and memories

Alex Haruni in wine work mode
Alex Haruni in wine work mode

Expert: Ayelet Safia of Jezreel

Earliest Passover memory? “Lots of people, food and noise. I would last until midnight and then go to bed. My family is Moroccan-Libyan, so there were lots of different customs.”

What did you drink? “We enjoyed a five-litre wine carton – a local wine call Ozeh – there was less choice in those days.”

Memories from the service?  “My Moroccan grandpa taking the service, in loud tunes. And both sides of the family speaking Arabic to one another.”

In the Cup?  1848 4th Generation Malbec, light and easy to drink throughout seder night.”


Expert: Yannai Levinson of Barkai and Segal Winery

Earliest memory?  “I moved from Birmingham, where my mother is from, to Nahariya when I was very small. The first seder in Israel was with lots of my father’s family. It was like coming in to Israel in a temporary booth as the paint was fresh, and the house was still being constructed. But I remember the feeling of new beginnings and the warmth of us coming together.

What did you drink? “I didn’t drink any wine until 15 – it was like dipping one’s toes. Grape juice, mixed with a bit of wine!”

Memories from the service?
“I remember my late Israeli grandpa sitting there, and it sticks with me, particularly his seder service. It was said with such sincerity – and those two hours were times when any noise was firmly kept at bay!

In the cup? “The Segal Petit Unfiltered is my must for this year’s seder. It’s from the Upper Gallilee; the grapes are mature and sweet.”

Yannai Levinson


Expert: Alex Haruni of Dalton

Earliest memory?  “Dad bundling us into
his car to take us to Sussers’ in order to buy the wine for Pesach. We didn’t want to be there. However, I think that sowed the seeds for my interest in wines.”

What did you drink? “The market was not yet burgeoning, 35 years ago – but there’s always some choice. Adults have their preferences and the kids watch and learn!”

Memories from the service?  “A grandparent performing the Libyan custom of placing an onion on my head during seder night! And the next day, at shul, bragging to my friends that our seder was the latest. Now I want it to be earlier, to get a good night’s sleep.”

In the cup? “Dalton Shade Rose 18, a perfect sweet grape to tickle on the tongue throughout seder night.”

Alex Haruni in wine work mode


Expert: Jeff Morgan of Covenant Wines

Earliest memory?  “Sadly, growing up, Pesach didn’t mean much to me – we hardly did a seder. I actually used to confuse the festival with Chanukah, both seeming to represent peoplehood.”

What did you drink?  “ It was my emergence as a wine trader that connected me to Judaism, and the great connector being wine and the sanctity of a meal.

Memories from the service?  “My memories are very recent. It was particularly special to enjoy 20 different bottles of wines last year, laid on for my 20 guests at my family seder in Berkeley.”

In the cup?  “I recommend the Covenant Israel Syrah 2016 – a great year for Israeli grapes.

Jeff Morgan ready to pour

Expert: Ben Teacher, Owner of One Ashbourne restaurant

Earliest memory?  “I have always been in Israel over Pesach, visiting Jerusalem, where the kotel is always  a highlight.”

What did you drink? “We enjoyed a mixture of different wines, sometimes starting on white wine, then always finishing on a nice red.”

Memories from the service?  “Both my grandparents did fantastic jobs hosting the seder table. My zayde had a fantastic voice, which truly blew you away and made the seder so much more fun.”

In the cup?  “Herzog XII One Plus Cabernet Sauvignon 2012. An amazing bottle of wine with so many different flavours coming through; also exclusively sold to One Ashbourne.”

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