All About Kosher Wines for Hanukkah, and Three Great Bottles to Try Out

Posted December 04, 2014

Howard Kaplan

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As Hanukkah 2014 rapidly approaches, we're expecting the usual uptick in our kosher wine sales. At Wine Library, we're wine experts, not religious scholars, so we'll spend more time in this article talking about the wines than the religious significance behind them.

So, lets begin with the obligatory background information. For a wine to be considered kosher, Sabbath-observant male Jews must supervise the entire winemaking process and any ingredients used must be kosher. Wine that is described as "kosher for Passover" must have been kept free from contact with grain, bread and dough. An additional, optional step is the mevushal process in which the wine is heated to 180 degrees Farenheit. Historical reasons aside, this process effectively clears the wine to be further handled, produced, and served by gentiles and yet still be considered 100% kosher.

When kosher wine is produced, marketed and sold commercially, it must have the "hechsher," (seal of approval) of a kosher supervising agency or organization, or of an authoritative rabbi. Basically, the hechsher tells us that everything was done correctly in the vinification process. That's why Jews and gentiles alike use the word "kosher" in expressions like "Everything's kosher" or "That doesn't sound kosher" to denote if something is proper or out of place.

People who are 55 or older can remember a time in their youth when kosher wine usually meant one of the sweet, cloying, unappealing choices from Manischewitz, wines that led many imbibers to think about religious conversion while sipping on them.

But as we fast-forward to 2014, we see a happier, brighter world for kosher wines. The most important development is the high quality of kosher wines that we're currently witnessing, coming from all over the world. At Wine Library, you'll find a wide selection of premium kosher wines that are just as kosher as any wine from Manischewitz, only they are light years better in quality. Among the viticultural regions producing kosher wines, you'll find excellent examples from such diverse countries as Israel (many great choices,) California, France, Italy, and even countries with miniscule Jewish populations like Chile and New Zealand.

In anticipation of Hanukkah, our shelves are brimming with an impressive selection of kosher wines. These are a few of our favorites, all highly recommended.

2012 Segal's Fusion Red (Mevushal)

Burgundy in color. More than half of the wine made ​​of Merlot is soft and sensual. Cabernet Sauvignon adds width and firmness. Cabernet Franc adds finally blows of exotic herbs and fruity young wine. The immediate soaring glass fruit aromas are concentrated red and black, cherry cream, berries, cassis liqueur fine, the smell of exotic spices and resins, green tea, licorice, mint and eucalyptus. Mouth full of creamy fruit flavors, plum, strawberry nectar, medium body. Light, round, soft and fruity with fresh acidity.

2011 Galil Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon (Not Mevushal)

Made in the higher elevations of Galilee. Aromatic tastes of black cherry, ripe plum, berry and blueberry jam, with a delicate background of mint and tobacco; medium-to-full bodied and well balanced; long-lasting finish.

2012 Or Haganuz Sauvignon Blanc Amuka Series Upper Galilee (Mevushal)

This wine was produced from northern Galilee Sauvignon Blanc grapes grown in the Avtalion vineyard. The lot is 9,000sqm large, 830 meters above sea level, on a western-facing slope, with a moderate incline. The soil is heavy basalt. A dry white wine, made of Sauvignon Blanc, with a delicate aroma of grapefruit and citrus fruits, a soft, delicate sourness that balances the taste and a pleasant, sour finish.

Or Haganuz wines are based on grapes grown in prominent vineyards in the Or Haganuz - Mount Meron region. The vineyards enjoy the unique northern Galilee climate, at heights ranging from 780 to 870 meters above sea level, which is optimal for high quality grapes. These vineyards grow in plots rich with history that can be traced back over hundreds of years.

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Howard Kaplan is a co-founder of Executive Wine Seminars, a New York based organization focusing on tasting rare and coveted wines.  He started writing about wine in the early 1980s for Wine Spectator and Cuisine Magazine.  Today, Howard’s tasting notes can be found on both Stephen Tanzer and Robert Parker’s websites.

STORY TO CART

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