Posts Tagged ‘israel’

Drinking Kosher vs. Non-Kosher Wine in Israel: Soon to be an Irrelevant Topic

Traditionally, kosher wine has been dismissed by wine connoisseurs as excessively sweet, unappetizing, and certainly only called for as part of the ritual observance of Jewish holidays. For me, Manischewitz wines define this category.  Whereas kosher hot dogs are viewed by many consumers as better than regular hot dogs (Hebrew National comes to mind), and kosher salt somehow evokes something special that makes some consumers believe it is better than non-kosher salt, kosher wine is viewed as inferior to non-kosher wine. This is because mass-produced, inexpensive kosher wine is boiled through the pasteurization process to be made kosher. Boiling wine is not a good thing.

However, pasteurization is not necessary for a wine to be kosher. To be kosher, specific rules, including rabbinical supervision, must be observed with respect to how the wine is handled from the moment that the juice is expressed from the berry to the moment it is bottled.  As long as the winemaker is skilled at wine making and the grapes are of high quality, these ritual observances need not have any negative impact on the quality of the wine produced.  You can still make a bad kosher wine, but you can also make an extraordinary wine in Israel that happens to be kosher.  For more on the rituals associated with making kosher wine, click here.

Based on my recent wine tasting experience in Israel, I am now convinced that the kosher element can be a footnote to the wine, not its defining feature, whereas the positive differentiation with the wine can be that it is of Israeli origin.

Kosher wines that are made kosher without pasteurization are called non-mevushal. In my view, mevushal wines are on their way to oblivion.

We drank both kosher and non-kosher Israeli wines on our trip. I believe that no more than 10 years from now, Israeli wines will be considered competitive with other global wine regions of excellence entirely on their merit as wines, with the kosher label being a footnote to non-Jews who appreciate fine wines and a welcome fact for Jews who observe kashrut.