Kosher Wine –- What Makes It Kosher?
The term “kosher wine” used to conjure images of the square bottle of super-sweet wine found on seder tables the world over. Today’s kosher wines are not relegated to that sweet, square bottle - there are delicious certified kosher wines from all over the world. According to Eric Asimov, Chief Wine Critic of the New York Times, "Kosher wines have improved so vastly over the years, the majority of kosher wines are good enough to appeal to anybody." These are not your grandma’s kosher wines!
What Makes a Wine Kosher?
A kosher wine begins like every other – as grapes on a vine. These grapes may be grown and picked by anyone. But once grapes reach the winery for crushing, the process is under strict rabbinal supervision. From crushing through bottling, kosher wine must be handled and processed by Sabbath-observing Jews. Barrels and tanks must be deemed kosher for use. The rabbi or Kashrut-trained supervisor must observe all aspects of the winemaking process and no work can be done on the Sabbath.
Mevushal v. Non-Mevushal
A mevushal wine is a kosher wine that has been pasteurized, meaning it has been brought to the boiling point and then cooled. This does not mean that mevushal wines are cooked; rather, they are flash pasteurized (i.e., the wine is brought to the boiling point within seconds and cooled down just as quickly). In most tastings it is difficult to tell the difference between mevushal and non-mevushal wines. The reason it might matter whether a kosher wine is mevushal or non-mevushal is that mevushal wines remain kosher no matter what type of handling they receive. Therefore, a non-kosher waiter or server can open the wine and it still remains kosher. Most kosher wines made in the US are mevushal. More non-mevushal wines are found in Israel, where it is not too difficult for a bottle to remain in kosher hands after bottling until the time of drinking.
So don’t hesitate to purchase non-Mevushal kosher wines as gifts for your kosher-keeping friends and relatives, since their kosher hands will be the ones handling it, keeping their kosher wine gift kosher. Consider adding a bottle (or two!) of our delicious kosher wine to your favorite kosher gift basket. It will be even more appreciated!
When to Send a Kosher Wine Gift
In Judaism, wine is considered to be both celebratory and ceremonial. We usher in every holiday with lighting of ceremonial candles and blessings over wine. It is used to sanctify holidays (Shabbat-weekly, and other annual holidays like Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot) and life cycle events (bris, b’nai mitzvoth, and weddings). And as it is a necessary part of our events, we certainly prefer that it be delicious and high-quality! Your friends, family, colleagues, and clients will all appreciate a delicious, thoughtful kosher wine gift. Don’t hesitate! We have a wonderful selection of kosher wines and spirits at various price points and types. And of course, don’t forget what Eric Asimov says: "Kosher wines have improved so vastly over the years, the majority of kosher wines are good enough to appeal to anybody."