Because there are no limitations on winemaking decisions or the grapes used to be considered kosher, you can find wine made from a wide range of varietals and different styles from around the world.
What Makes a Wine Kosher?
by Beth Richman
Picture this – you’re invited to a friend's house to celebrate a Jewish holiday and you’re tasked with bringing the wine, what do you do? Those who grew up attending Jewish celebrations may assume that means bringing the Manischewitz. You know, the sickly sweet wine bursting with fruit flavors that Aunt Janis consumed way too much of every year during the Passover Seder? Fortunately, we’re lucky enough to have other options for high-quality kosher wines that you'll love.
What makes wine kosher?
Contrary to popular belief, kosher wine doesn’t have to come from Israel! Kosher is a Jewish term that refers to food and wine that adheres to the dietary guidelines within the religion. In addition to following these dietary rules, the winemaker must be a Sabbath-observant Jew, and the winemaking process has to be supervised by a rabbi (a spiritual leader or religious teacher in Judaism) to be considered a kosher wine. This means that the other products - yeast, additives, fining agents, etc. - and equipment used to make the wine must also be kosher.
Why has the quality of kosher wines improved?
There are technically two types of kosher wines: mevushal and non-mevushal wines. Mevushal wines are strongly sterilized to be shared with non-Jews and non-observant Jews. These wines were literally boiled, which as you can imagine does not make them taste very appealing. Today, we utilize more modern means of pasteurization to sterilize the wine, helping them retain their integrity. Non-mevushal wines do not go through this sterilization process, but are no longer considered to be kosher as soon as a non-Jew or non-observant Jew touches them.
What should I look for in a kosher wine?
Because there are no limitations on winemaking decisions or the grapes used to be considered kosher, you can find wine made from a wide range of varietals and different styles from all over the world. You'll find kosher wines in styles that pair with whatever you're serving. You can identify them by finding a “U” or a “K” in a circle on the label to signify its classification, or just ask your local wine shop. Understanding how observant your guests are is also important, so be sure to ask!
If you find yourself in need of a kosher wine, check out DCanter’s selection. L'chaim!