Kosher wine refers to a wine that was produced by adhering to very stringent guidelines and Rabbinic supervision. Since this allows for the use of all wine styles, grape varieties, and growing regions, any wine made in accordance to these rules can be kosher. With the increasing sophistication of our palates, wine has grown in popularity and there is now a large variety of excellent kosher wines available from every wine-producing country in the world, including Australia, Chile, France, Israel, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States.
Kosher wines are produced according to the following standards:
1. The equipment and machinery used to make the wine must be used exclusively for the production of kosher products.
2. From grape crushing to the sealing of the bottle, only Sabbath-observant Jews may physically handle the grapes, production equipment, and wine.
3. Only certified kosher products (yeast, filtering agents, etc.) may be used in processing.
4. Kosher wines are subject to a very stringent filtration procedure and no foreign substance may be used (unlike non-kosher wines, which often use gelatin, rice, milk products or animal products for clarification and purification processes).
5. No artificial coloring or preservatives may be used.
According to Gary Wartels, proprietor of Skyview Wines and Spirits, the largest retailer of kosher wines and spirits nationally, “some of the finest wines are now kosher and the selection, prices and quality are unsurpassed”. In addition, “this previous Passover season saw the introduction of over 100 new varieties, vintages and great values”. Here are five top picks for your summer barbeque recommended by Richard Fishman, Skyview’s wine maven:
1. Teal Lake Sparkling Muscat – Deliciously fresh, effervescent and semi-sweet with wonderful fruit flavors of melon, apple and pear. Best when chilled and served outdoors on your patio or deck enjoying chicken, pasta or as a desert accompaniment (Mevushal)
2. Yogev Cabernet Merlot 2007 – Produced by Binyamina winery and their growers, the Yogev (from the Hebrew words “tiller of the soiler”) series of wines are a top seller and crowd pleaser. This blend of 50% cabernet and 50% merlot is medium bodied with rich fruit flavors and fully ready for drinking now, but can be cellared for up to 3 years (Non-Mevushal)
3. Weinstock Select Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 – a rich, aromatic, and mouth-filling wine made by the same winemaker as the Baron Herzog reserve series. A perfect balance of fruit and oak aged for 18 months, this classic wine has gentle tannins and a lingering finish. Excellent with steak and other rich food dishes (Mevushal).
4. Elvi Matiz Rioja 2007, – A relative new release from the up and coming progressive winery Elvi wines, this classic Rioja is made from 100% Tempanillo grapes. An intense yet accessible wine a long finish and full body is best with spicy chicken dishes, beef and Mediterranean foods (Non-Mevushal).
5. Hagafen Chardonnay Napa Valley 2007 – This California Chardonnay is made with grapes grown in the famous Napa Valley Oak Knoll growing district. This wine has a classical balance of ripe fruit flavors offset by a toasty oaky character. Bold flavor, yet light on the palette, this Chardonnay finishes beautifully with a wide range of fish, chicken, and vegetarian dishes or even as an aperitif (Mevushal).