Kosher Wine 101: The Blessed Wine for any Occassion

This past Thursday Tasting was a real treat to sample Kosher wines, an unfamiliar category.  First thought that comes into mind is ” are Kosher wines serious wines?”   That’s an objective question which can be taken as an insult depending on who’s your audience.  After doing a little research on what makes a wine Kosher certified, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is a serious wine with complicated restrictions that go beyond a Rabbi overseeing the cleansing of the equipment and blessing the wine.

To be a certified Kosher wine, gelatin and casein are prohibited in the wine making process.   Fining wine means eliminating the sediment or clarifying the wine from its cloudy appearance by using gelatin or casein.  Casein is a milk protein and gelatin is a collagen found in animal bones.  Most collagen comes from pigs and some casein comes from goat or sheep’s milk which are by products from animals prohibited under Jewish Religious Law.  Kosher wines use isinglass derived from fish bladders to fine wines.   Also, only Kosher enzymes may be used for fermentation.  Any enzyme coming from the legume family such as rice, corn, soybeans are not acceptable.   During Passover, the restriction becomes more stringent which no derivatives of any of the five grains: wheat, barley, spelt, oats, and rye may be used.

Kosher wines also prohibits hybridization in the vineyard which means no other plants may be cross bred with the grapes.   Hybrid grapes are important due to their tolerance to phyloxera and other fungal diseases.  However, there are Kosher acceptable inter-specific hybrid grapes where one parent is a European grape.

In the past, Kosher wine is synonymous  to mevushal or boiled wine.  Boiling the wine greatly altered the tannins and flavor of the wine. This strict requirement distinguished Kosher wines as tasting ‘different.’   A modernized process called flash pasteurization has minimal effect on the flavor, potential aging and is favorable with non-kosher wineries .  Flash pasteurization abides with Kosher certification.

So does the wine taste good???

Golan Heights Winery, Yarden, Mt. Hermon White Wine 2010:  Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc blend.  Light and feminine.   Lemon, lime, and hint of flora aromas.  Refreshing dryness without being bitter, alcoholie, or sharp.  Great summer wine.  Certified Kosher for Passover.

Golan Heights Winery, Sion Creek Red Wine 2007:  Sangiovese, Syrah, Gamay Noir, Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo blend.  I found this wine to be slightly maderised, or oxidated.  After knowing more about Kosher wine making, I can understand there will be a pruney aroma and cooked cherries.   The vintage may also contribute to the flavor and aromas.   Perhaps a current vintage might have a more brighter flavor.

Golan Heights Winery, Merlot 2008: 100% Merlot.  Slight tar hint on the nose.  Light tannins, very quaffable and easy drinking.

Galil Mountain Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009:  100% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Pinch of menthol or eucalyptus on the nose.  Very light tannins, fruit forward with dark cherries.  Crowd favorite.


Category : Reviews &Wine