The bottles: Stoudemire Private Collection red wines — Reserve, $65.99; Grand Reserve, $99.99
The back story: The traditional sip of Passover, the eight-day Jewish holiday that commemorates the exodus from Egypt, is wine — traditionally, a sweet wine that hardly appealed to the connoisseur crowd. But in recent years, winemakers have been offering more worthy fare for the holiday table while also adhering to the kosher dietary laws — and specifically, the ones applying to Passover.
And the latest winemaker to join the Passover parade? None other than retired NBA great Amar’e Stoudemire.
Stoudemire is not Jewish per se. Rather, he is a Hebrew Israelite, a follower of both Christianity and Judaism. And as such, he is a frequent visitor to Israel — in his post-NBA career, he has even played for the Jerusalem basketball team. That led to his interest in the country’s winemaking culture and eventually to establishing his own brand in partnership with Israel’s Tulip Winery.
The resulting bottles, which are being released in fairly limited quantities, speak to what the star athlete loves about the country’s wine, says Joshua Greenstein, an executive with the Israeli Wine Producers Association. That is, they are “bold and spicy yet soft, fruit-forward, layered, complex and full-flavored,” says Greenstein.
What we think about them: We admit we were skeptical about the bottles for all the predictable reasons. We still have bad memories of drinking plenty of sickly sweet kosher-for-Passover wine. And we tend to find celebrity-branded vino more about the celebrity than the vino.
But the Stoudemire sips are the real deal — elegant red wines with the aforementioned complexity, but still very easy to drink.
How to enjoy them: These wines will pair naturally will full-flavored dishes, such as grilled meats or a lamb roast or maybe a Passover brisket. And for those who celebrate the holiday, happy Passover (or chag Pesach sameach)!