Isn’t that headline redundant, some of you might be thinking. And while it’s true that most Israeli wines are kosher, it doesn’t necessarily follow that all kosher wines are from Israel.
Let’s start with a basic question: what makes a wine kosher?
Well, it must:
Be made under the supervision of a rabbi;
Contain only kosher ingredients, including the yeast and fining agents;
Be processed with rabbinically certified equipment; and
Only be handled by Sabbath-observant Jews.
In addition, the wine cannot have any non-kosher ingredients or fining agents.
Mevushal indicates a wine that can be handled and served by non-Jews; however, they must be heated to 185 degrees Fahrenheit prior to bottling, a process typically done through flash pasteurization to minimize the heat’s impact on the flavor.
Yeah, I know that sounds super yummy. But, innovations in winemaking and a boom in boutique wineries making vino for consumption, not just sacramental purposes, meaning that it’s ever easier to find good tasting wines appropriate for the holidays.
Here are some favorites I’ve discovered over the years. Note that prices are average and many vary.
Hafner Chardonnay, Austria
This estate was the first in Austria to make kosher wine, in 1980. The received their organic certification in 2007, making them one of the few kosher, organic wineries in the world. Fermented in stainless steel and aged in French oak, this chardonnay veers Burgundian in style. $14
Dalton Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, Israel
The fruit for this wine is sourced from three vineyards in the Upper Galilee, one of Israel’s best wine regions. It is crafted for maximum flavor and body, showing bright flavors and a rich, creamy feel on the palate. $19
Borgo Reale Pinot Noir, Italy
This particular bottle is from Italy’s Apulia region, and it shows classic pinot notes of cherry, violet and cola. An easy-drinking wine on the lighter side. $15
Saporta Tempranillo, Spain
These grapes come from Spain’s famed Rioja region. The wine is full-bodied with notes of plum and strawberry. It was aged in oak, giving it a round vanilla quality as well. $15
Teperberg 1870 Cabernet, Israel
This estate was founded in 1870 in the old city of Jerusalem. Under the guidance of the family’s fifth generation, however, the location was moved and a new, modern winery constructed. Made with fruit from younger vines, this wine has a savory quality with lots of ripe fruit flavors. The wine’s tannins are balanced by the addition of merlot, and ageing is kept to just five months for a more approachable cuvee. $15
Arza Charisma Shiraz, Israel
Located in Galilee, this estate has focused in recent years on making wines for the sophisticated consumer. This wine is fresh and vibrant, with notes of red fruit and spice. It ages for three to four years in a combination of French and American oak, adding depth to the final product. $14