Jewish and Israeli Food

Why You Should Be Having Kosher Wine

Kosher wine looks and tastes the same as non-kosher wine, but the process of how it comes to be is going to differ. It might not be immediately obvious given this physical similarity, why one would need to have kosher wine, but much is hidden beneath the surface. Before understanding about the intricate laws and practices surrounding wine, it’s important to grasp the importance of wine as a mitzvah-item and symbol.

Wine is significant in Judaism in large part as the basis for making a blessing for Kiddush on Shabbat, Jewish holidays and most lifecycle events. Wine is also the typical drink of Jews, traditionally speaking, as it is said to gladden one’s heart and is seen as the final, perfected form of grapes which are not only as one of the Seven Species, but even compared to the other species grape vines it signals to the Era of Moshiach, with many references throughout Tanakh between grapes and a time of peace and prosperity.

What Makes Wine Kosher, and Why You Need It

The process to make kosher wine is similar to any other winemaking process, but demands extra attention to detail and Jewish law. First, the grapes must remain unharvested for the first 3 years following the Biblical laws of orla among many other commandments relating to produce, like shmita, tithing etc.. Once the grapes are harvested, from the pressing to the bottling every step must be handled by an observant Jew. 

No non-kosher additives can be present and most kosher wines are also kosher for Passover so no chametz (leven) can be present in the process. 

Conversely, many wines that aren’t kosher will include fining agents or filtration systems using fish or mammal intestines, gelatin, casein (from milk), egg whites and so on that won’t be kosher, or suitable for vegetarians/vegans. You will have more peace of mind knowing what you’re drinking with kosher wine.

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When to Have Kosher Wine
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Religious Jews will be careful to make a bracha over food no matter when, and less observant families will still typically make sure to say a blessing over wine and bread etc. for Shabbat Kiddush and holidays, along with other events like the blessing under the chuppah and at a bris. Saying a blessing for wine—praising G-d for providing the resources for the drink—it would not be sensible to thank G-d for giving something that He did not actually give for Jews whether that’s non-kosher wine or non-kosher grape juice.

Kosher wine is grown around the world with stores stocking bottles from every inhabited continent, with a huge percentage of this is going to come from Israel that has six distinct growing regions despite its small size. Immediately this carries with it a connection to the Land of Israel, and the traditional Jewish winegrowing which has never ended here.

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Misconceptions about Kosher Wines
  • Kosher wine is boiled

Kosher wine is not ever boiled, though there are some bottles where the wine will have been brought to 180F for a moment. These days, other methods like flash detente or flash pasteurization are both quicker and preferred for the minimal effect to the quality. Many non-kosher wines do this too to stabilize taste.

The reason for this is to make the wine mevushal (lit. cooked) as, if not, it would be rendered unkosher after contact with anyone other than an observant Jew. Any large gathering, catered event, etc. would likely need this type of wine. There is also non-mevushal for those who want it. 


  • Kosher wine is all sweet

This myth began because early kosher wine made in the US was primarily from sweet concord grapes in upstate New York. For decades now the market has been filled with a variety of dry, semi-sweet and other varieties of wine from vineyards around the globe. 

 

  • Kosher wine has to be blessed by a rabbi

There is a misconception that in order to make wine, or anything else kosher, it needs to be blessed by a rabbi. Not only is this false for wine and anything else, no such bracha exists. Kosher food is based on laws about growing, supervision to prevent cross-contamination, and so on. Moreover, if wine would become unkosher there is no way to make it kosher even with a blessing.

 

  • Kosher wine is just for Kiddush

Kosher wine is for Kiddush, but that’s only because all wine used by Jews traditionally was and should always been kosher. There are many occasions, between Shabbat, holidays, a bris, and other joyous times are marked with wine, meaning lots of moments to get kosher wine even for those who aren’t particularly big drinkers. 

No matter the season, kosher wines from Israel are great to have for hosting large gatherings or intimate events, and there’s no greater way use for it than making a special Shabbat Kiddush with family and friends.

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Blog Topics

/judaica/kiddush cups/traditional kiddush cups

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