I have to be honest with all of you up front. The name of my web site, Wine Rabbi , may have in it the word "Rabbi," but it doesn't focus on kosher wine. At Wine Rabbi, our role is, rather, to filter down all of the overwhelming information available in the world of wine so that busy folks out there like yourselves will have at your disposal the information you need to make informed decisions about the bottles you purchase, the wine-related events you attend, and the wine country travel on which you embark. The word "Rabbi" is meant merely in the secular sense - i.e., we're the advisor that looks out for your best interests in the wine world.
Ok, so I've disclaimed any expertise on kosher wine that you might have expected of me when you started reading this piece. How could that be a good fact, you ask?
It is good if you consider my independence from every part of the wine business - I don't sell wine, I only drink and enjoy it. I'm in it for the pure pleasure. If you've read my blog before, you've likely noticed that I don't write anything negative about any wine-related item or activity. If I don't like something, I simply ignore it. But, I am also very selective about the wines, wineries, and events about which I rave.
That ought to tell you something about the fact that I volunteered to write a piece about the merits of kosher wine. I'm going to give you the straight talk, and the straight talk is very much that the days of people's associating the word "kosher" with lousy wine are numbered. And there's a very simple reason for this, which can be conveniently summed up in two words: flash pasteurization.
Up until very recently, koshering a wine required pasteurizing - or, quite literally, cooking - it. If you know anything about the winemaking process, you can just imagine how detrimentally this would affect the wine. But thanks to modern technology in the form of flash pasteurization, the process of koshering can now happen in almost an instant, without in any way harming the wine's quality. In fact, non-kosher Chateau Beaucastel flash pasteurizes its wines, which are considered some of the world's finest.
So it's all very simple:the word "kosher" or כשר on a wine label means observant Jews can drink what's inside the bottle, but no longer necessarily means that the rest of the wine loving public should avoid it at all costs. And while the kosher wine industry is mostly still getting up to speed in terms of quality, the playing field is now level in terms of how the wines can be made, and kosher wines are being produced in many well-regarded regions throughout the world (e.g., France, Italy, the U.S., Australia, Chile, Argentina, etc.) in addition to Israel.
To give you just one example of a kosher wine worth trying, see my recent review of the kosher La Velona Sant'Antimo 2003, a Sant'Antimo Rosso that was delicious and cheap, by clicking here .
I also wrote a piece not long ago about two wines I had from Israel that were absolutely phenomenal. Click here to read it.
Josh Anzel , with his wife Christina, are the founders of Wine Rabbi, a wine mentorship website based in San Francisco.
- Reply by Mark Angelillo, May 22, 2008.
Thanks for the info, Josh. I'll not shy away from kosher wines as much, but maybe I'll start with the ones you recommend, just to be on the safe side. Glad you're looking out for us.
- Reply by oceank8, May 22, 2008.
I did not even know there was such a thing as kosher wines. Do they tend to be from a specific region?
- Reply by Philip James, May 26, 2008.
I really want Josh to do a follow up on this. What always interested me was that there are cheap bulk wines that are kosher, but also some very high end main brand wines are too - its just we dont know it. I'll see if i can track down a few...
Ocean - not really, i mean, i guess isreal makes a bunch of kosher wines, but i'm about to find you a champagne thats kosher
- Reply by oceank8, May 26, 2008.
This is one reason this website is so great, I am being introduced to so many new things everyday. Just pushes my love of wine further and further!