Friday, April 15, 2011




By Doc Lawrence

Passover is an appropriate time to become more familiar with the delights of Kosher wines.

Kosher wine, said Mitch Schneider who lives in Israel and is well versed in this subject, “is produced according to Jewish dietary laws, called Kashrut. All the appropriate wine making equipment, tools, and storage facilities must be used exclusively for producing Kosher wine. Beginning with harvest, only Sabbath observant Jews are allowed to work in wine production. Only certified Kosher products like yeast can be used.”

Schneider, a career wine professional, offered a few Kosher wine nuggets:  “With some Kosher wine,” he observed, “you might see Mevushal on the label. "  He explained that this literally means boiled or cooked. “Back in history, the Jewish people would boil the wine in order to make it unfit for idolatrous use. Even if an idolater touched it, the wine would still keep the status of Kosher. Today, we use the process of flash pasteurization to make the wine Mevushal. Flash pasteurization is a very, very fast process in which the wine goes through a continuous flow while subjected to temperatures of 160 °F to 165 °F.”

I asked if the terms Kosher and organic were related? “I don't believe they are,” Schneider replied, adding that “in Israel, Yarden Winery produces an organic Chardonnay from their Odem Vineyard. In America, Baron Herzog Winery is not certified organic, but many of their wines come from sustainably grown, low spray grapes.”

Obviously, with all the diversity inherent in wine for over six thousand years, there are aspects of Kosher wine that should attract everyone who loves good wine.  Mitch Schneider believes that Kosher wine should have the same appeal a non-Kosher wine brings. “A Chalk Hill Cab that is Kosher,” he said, “will taste like a Chalk Hill non-Kosher Cab. I know many people won't even try Kosher wine, but the truth is, when tasting a wine, whatever your preconceived notions you had in your head will effect the taste of the wine.”

Schneider claims that there are amazing Kosher wine available today from around the world. More than a few, he states, “are being written about and rated in top wine magazines and winning top medals in various competitions. The days of sweet concord wine are gone! Today, Kosher wine is something to be proud of like any other wine.”

Schneider said to look at Vodka. “There is a Kosher certification on Stoli. Why? Simply for the marketing aspect. No one thinks of Stoli as the Kosher Vodka. Likewise, don't think of Kosher wine as sweet concord wine.”

Here are some of the superior Kosher wines Schneider said to look for in the American marketplace: Castel Winery from Israel – “Their Grand Vin label is amazing.” Hagafen Cellars from California – “Look out for their Pinot Noir.” Borgo Reale Moscato and Bartenura Moscato.- “Two wineries, one wine - both delicious and refreshing from Italy.” Yatir Winery from Israel plus Goose Bay from New Zealand-“their Sauvignon Blanc is crisp, and very well balanced.” 

I hasten to endorse the outstanding Yarden Mount Hermon Galilee Red Wine (2009) from Golan Heights Winery

What about Bordeaux? Or Burgundy? Schneider quickly responded, “we sure do have them,” referring me to two sites: and Kosher French Wine importer.

Enough said. It’s time to pour a glass of Kosher Margeaux and, although we are in different countries, wine begins a promising friendship and transcends notions of time and distance.


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