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Kosher Wines

What makes a wine kosher? Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher of the Wall Street Journal have covered this topic in several articles over the last 2-3 years. Here is their description of what makes a kosher wine from their last article on this topic on March 2001:

"The process starts with special treatment and attention to cleanliness. Rabbis or their assistants supervise the wine's production from crush to bottling. Experts told us that wines labeled 'kosher for Passover' are made with special enzymes and yeasts and fining agents -- not animal byproducts, like gelatin, for example -- that clarify the wine. Often their front labels will sport an 'O' with a 'U' inside with a 'P' near it. This, they said, is the stamp of approval of the largest kosher certification body in the world and basically means there's no need to read the label further to learn that the wine is kosher for Passover.

Some wines are both kosher for Passover and mevushal. Baron Herzog told us that its wines and many other kosher wines go through this added step. Sometimes it's listed on the label. 'A mevushal wine,' Herzog's representative said, 'is one that can be handled by the general public, like a non-Jewish waiter, and still remain kosher.' Wine that does not go through this mevushal process must be served by observant Jews to retain its kosher status.

Basically, Herzog told us, a mevushal wine is heated in seconds by flash pasteurization, with the temperature brought down quickly so as not to harm the wine. Some wineries do this to the unfermented white and blush juice; others do it with reds after fermentation. This added step, the Herzog people said, not only doesn't harm the wine, but 'enhances its aromatics and complexities' while 'stabilizing the color and tannins.'"

Together, they have published three columns that cover kosher wines. These three columns are titled:

bulletWith Passover Upon Us, Give Kosher Wine a Try, Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, Wall Street Journal, March 30, 2001

Choosing the Best Kosher Wines; Moving Beyond Heavy and Sweet, Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, Wall Street Journal, April 7, 2000


You Don't Have to Be Jewish To Appreciate a Kosher Wine, Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, Wall Street Journal, March 12, 1999

I have listed a number of kosher wines in the table following this paragraph -- both from recommendations from the Wall Street Journal column and from other sources. Two comments on this list.  First, some of the French wines (Giscours, La Gaffeliere, Laurent Perrier) are produced in both kosher and non-kosher versions. Second, the recommendations that are noted above and below were for specific years. The quality of any vintage may vary -- so buyer beware.  Where possible, I have listed a good source on the Internet for these wines.


Kosher Wines and Wineries

Winery Red Varietals White Varietals Other Source
Abarbanel   Gewurtztraminer1    
Alfasi Merlot1
Cabernet Sauvignon
Barkan Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon2      
Baron Herzog Zinfandel1
Cabernet Sauvignon
Chenin Blanc3
Sauvignon Blanc
Bartenura Chianti3
Barbera d'Asti
Pinot Grigio
Asti Spumante
Carmel4   Riesling1 Partom1  
Chateau Giscours Margaux3      
Chateau La Gaffeliere St. Emilion Grand Cru1      
Gan Eden     Late Harvest1  
Hagafen Merlot2
Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Franc
Herzog (CA)5 Cabernet Sauvignon      
Herzog (France) Beaujolais (Morgon)      
Kaizer Franz Josef     Tokaji Furmint3  
Kidron   Chardonnay
Laurent Perrier     Brut L.P. Champagne3
Rosť Brut Champagne
Remy-Pannier     Rosť d'Anjou3  
Teal Lake Shiraz Chardonnay
Weinstock Cellars Gamay3 Sauvignon Blanc2 Chardonnay2    
Yarden4 Merlot2
Cabernet Sauvignon
Blanc de Blancs1

The articles recommending the wines and wineries as noted in the table above are listed below.

  1. Gaiter/Brecher, WSJ 1999

  2. Gaiter/Brecher, WSJ 2000

  3. Gaiter/Brecher, WSJ 2001

  4. Tastings Magazine, Best Producers (Israel)

  5. Wine Spectator, Various Articles

Some other web pages that discuss kosher wines include: A New World of Kosher Wines Kosher Wine Connoisseur & Reviews
bulletHagafen Cellars
bulletAbarbanel Wines: Kosher Wine History L'Chaim! Here's to Learning About Kosher Wine  A Very Short Course In What Makes A Wine Kosher:  What Kosher Wine Is Not--What Kosher Wine Is - What Makes Wine Kosher


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