Kosher Wines for Hanukkah

6 wines worth sharing


Kosher wines rarely get any love. Most wine critics don't keep kosher, yours truly included. Even if they did, there's a bit of a stigma attached to kosher wines, mainly because they have been kind of crappy in years gone by.

Today, that has changed for several reasons. First and foremost, people, kosher or not, generally are over drinking crappy wine. We all know what decent wine tastes like and we all want some, especially when celebrating our holidays. With that, kosher winemakers have expanded their horizons, kosher wine drinkers are willing to experiment more than they had been, and regions that specialize in kosher wines (Israel) have finally had the time to sort out their wine industries.

So I was faced with the task to head out and find some kosher wines worth recommending. I tasted through a nice range of wines, both whites and reds, and found some worth sharing. The 2009 Domaine Netofa Galilee Red was a discovery for me, elegant and subtle, and absolutely delicious!

Photo courtesy xtremevisuals via Flickr/CC

2010 Goose Bay South Island Sauvignon Blanc New Zealand 13%

This is very fresh on the nose. There is still a hint of yeast at first pour, which is followed by notes of roasted chili, lemon grass, sage and grapefruit over a nice mineral base. Nicely bright and juicy on entry, this shows early flashes of peach fruit that form a base for lightly chili-toned pineapple and lime fruit on the palate. This shows good richness but remains refreshing right through the lightly mineral and lime zest finish. 87pts

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2010 Golan Heights Winery Sion Creek White Israel 13%

This is very interesting on the nose, with a blend of sandy mineral base notes under a layer of light herbal/floral tones and lovely hints of orange and dried lime zest. Rather light bodied in the mouth with a flavor profile that is similar to the nose, with nuanced bitter orange, some almond tones, and a dusting of pollen and honey. All layered over some dried herb notes and some tense mineral elements. This finishes with a touch of sweetness, just enough to smooth the edges a bit but still quite discreet. 87pts

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2010 Baron Herzog Chenin Blanc Clarksburg CA 13%

This smells fairly floral with a decidedly apple tone to the orchard fruit on the nose. Lots of apple fruit in the mouth as well, with nice lemon acidity balancing the noticeable sweetness. There's a touch of pollen and some peachy tones on the back end and through the finish, though it's all nicely balanced with citrus flavors. Very easy to drink and sure to be a crowdpleaser for those who like their wines fruity. 85pts

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NV Cuvee du Centenaire Cotes du Rhone 12%

Rather earthy on the nose and quite winey in an old school sort of way. There's some nice red berry fruit here on the nose, but there is also a strong aromatic herb/root vegetable element as well adding nice complexity. Light bodied and fresh in the mouth, with bright acidity and some dusty, stiff tannins accenting the light red berry fruit with its herbal edges and some dried citrus elements. This is rather simple but fresh and cleansing on the palate. 85pts

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2009 Domaine Netofa Galilee Red Israel 13.3%

A Syrah Mourvedre blend. Tight on the nose with some dusty soil tones, a hint of violet and some lean, black fruit. This is tight on the palate as well, but the wine has lovely balance with strong acids and fine grained tannins that are supportive though unobtrusive. With air, the fruit does begin to emerge, showing lovely freshness with hints of plum and black currant accented with a touch of fragrant talc and some lovely spice tones. This finishes with some lightly spiced fruit and nice nuance. Much more elegant than I was expecting, this is really a lovely glass of wine. Easy to drink, but shows some nuance and sophistication as well. A bit creamy on the finish with a hint of chocolate adding a nice layer. 89pts

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2006 Ella Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Judan Hills, Israel 14%

A touch oaky at first, this does show nice red currant and cherry fruit accented with clear herb tones in a fresh style. Lighter bodied and fresh in the mouth, this packs in pretty good depth of flavors, with wild cherry and raspberry cream notes accented by hints of wood spice and herbal top notes. The finish is fruity, with crisp black currant tones accented by nuanced oak notes. Good length and lovely tannins adding a little grab. 90pts

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Mentioned in this article


  • You should mention Hagafen Cellars, Napa Valley. All their wines are kosher, not to mention delicious.

    Dec 13, 2011 at 11:58 AM

  • Excellent! I have been craving more knowledge on Israeli wine and this is a nice catalyst....

    Dec 13, 2011 at 2:07 PM

  • Snooth User: Dani Peer
    468698 3

    I would like to add few Israeli wineries that are Kosher and are recommended,
    1. Golan Heights - they are mention in the article, but they have much better wines

    Dec 13, 2011 at 3:07 PM

  • Glad to see you chose Cuvee du Centenaire Cotes du Rhone - it's been my "house wine" for years - the perfect go-to wine. It's subtle pepper notes make it a perfect pairing with steaks, stews and barbecued meats.

    Dec 13, 2011 at 3:17 PM

  • Thank you Dani! I will depart from kosher for one moment and share that my favorite Israeli winery thus far... mostly because I love a good production story to go along with my wine is the following.

    Dec 13, 2011 at 3:25 PM

  • Snooth User: Dani Peer
    468698 3

    BTW, Castel is Kosher. My favorite winery is (it's not Kosher). From Kosher wines the best value in my opinion are the Golan wines. I can send you a list if you want.

    Dec 13, 2011 at 3:45 PM

  • Snooth User: one mama
    993163 7

    pls i need vino spumante contri elite,,, and the price.

    Dec 13, 2011 at 6:20 PM

  • Snooth User: joebernardinoATyahoo
    Hand of Snooth
    695661 916

    Teal Lake Shiraz isn't bad

    Dec 13, 2011 at 8:49 PM

  • Snooth User: WZS
    430440 6

    Are Flam wines kosher ?

    Dec 14, 2011 at 2:36 AM

  • Snooth User: Memepool
    970991 22

    Hi I think a lot of this conflates wines being Israeli with being Kosher. Properly Kosher wine is usually pasteurised which kind of kills it. The only other wine which goes through this kind of process is Madeira and that's fortified to preserve it. Also many of the standard fining agents used in wine production are outlawed as they come from 'unclean' animals.
    If you want to sample the best Israel has to offer forget Kosher and go for wines from producers like Vitkin, Yatir or Margalit which make world class cabernet merlot type wine which gives some grand cru Bordelais a run for their money. Israeli whites on the whole are hit and miss but a few are worth checking like Carmel single vinyard Sha'al late picked Gewurtztraminer.
    If you like brandy there are a couple of gems from the Carmel area vinyards originally planted by the Rothchilds in the 19th Century. Check out Tishbi and the older Carmel offerings like their centennial 100 marque which again will beat any cognac under 100USD.

    Dec 14, 2011 at 1:45 PM

  • Snooth User: ANTONZ
    622685 7

    Very gratifying to see that Israel's vastly improved wine industry has received a mention. Though somewhat odd that prominence goes to such a very new (though good!) and little-known winery. Netofa got a warm welcome from Daniel Rogov, Israel's master wine critic (now no longer with us, and sorely missed).
    Israel's best kosher wines are produced by Golan Heights, Carmel and Castel wineries, though there is plenty of really good kosher drinking to be had from many others. In alphabetical order: Binyamina, Bustan, Dalton, Ella Valley, Galil Mountain, Recanati, Tabor, Tzora, Tzuba, Yatir. For anyone interested in Israel's wines, Rogov's Guide to Israeli Wines is a must-have. Sad to think that the 2011 edition is the last we will ever see.

    Dec 14, 2011 at 2:16 PM

  • Snooth User: Dani Peer
    468698 3

    From "Memopool" got the idea of " Properly Kosher wine is usually pasteurised which kind of kills it"...
    To be considered kosher, Sabbath-observant Jews must be involved in the entire winemaking process and any ingredients used, including finings, must be kosher. That's it. And Yatir is Kosher.

    Dec 14, 2011 at 2:30 PM

  • Snooth User: ANTONZ
    622685 7

    MEMEPOOL errs in the assertion that Kosher wine must be pasteurised. There are two grades of Kashrut (or Kosher-ness). Basically, Kosher wine is produced in exactly the same way as any other wine except for the fact that no animal produce may make contact with the wine. For the more strictly observant, wine does have to be brought to a high temperature (it is then described as "Mevushal", or cooked), but modern techniques have refined this process. The wine goes through a very brief flash heating and is immediately and very quickly cooled down again. Reliable tests have shown that it is not possible to consistently taste the difference between the two methods. Once again: Daniel Rogov! - his Rogov's Guide to Kosher Wines has it all. Le'chaim.

    Dec 14, 2011 at 2:38 PM

  • Snooth User: ANTONZ
    622685 7

    Flam are one of Israel's most reliable wineries. A pleasure to drink their stuff, but it ain't Kosher.

    Dec 14, 2011 at 2:46 PM

  • Snooth User: blaise
    80037 0

    an excellent kosher winery is Covenant in California, especially the highly rated Covenant cab and the Chardonnay Lavan.

    Dec 16, 2011 at 7:26 PM

  • Snooth User: WZS
    430440 6

    yes Flam became kosher since 2010, this what it can be found around internet, I have now asked them by mail if this is a case.

    Dec 18, 2011 at 1:08 PM

  • amaizing

    Aug 30, 2013 at 2:53 AM

  • outstandng

    Aug 31, 2013 at 4:59 AM

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