People who have hosted Sedarim for years have developed wine strategies.
As a public service, I thought I’d share some thoughts, about the theory and practice of the Mitzvah of the four Cups.
* Wine has an effect on human behavior.
* In English, we call it “lowering inhibitions.” In Hebrew, we have the phrase “Nichnas Yayin – Yotzei Sod” When wine goes into a person, the inner part of the personality is expressed.
* Sometimes that inner truth is too potent.
* Because of this, the alcohol-influenced personality is one that workers and slaves cannot afford to show, and have no right to show on the job.
* The act of facilitating the lowering of one’s inhibitions is something only a free person may do.
* The Rambam paskens that on Seder night, a Jew is obligated to personally express himself to others as if he had just left Egypt.
* Ergo, This attitude is actualized by drinking wine at the Seder.
* While most poskim agree that grape juice is considered wine for halachic purposes, there is an aspect of wine at the seder that expresses “Cheirus”, freedom. Grape juice can’t do that. Wine does that.
* Based on the Gemaras that say that wine in Talmudic times was diluted to one part wine to three parts water, and that scientifically speaking, pure wine can’t have more than 15% alcohol, Rabbi Heinemann points out that wine is expected by Chazal to be valid wine if it has ~4% alcohol.
* Practically speaking:
* dry wines are better on the stomach. But at 4 oz of wine per cup, basically chugged, can create quite the buzz, and might have you too buzzed for a functional maggid.
* Sweet wines can be harsh on any empty stomach. But some of the light wines out there are light.
* I recommend:
* Malvasia (rather pricey though)
* Rashi Joyvin (too sparkly for some)
* Rambam Joven
* Rashi light red concord (not high quality, but a good inexpensive choice.)