Kosher wines are no longer relegated to the sticky-sweet white wines that you drank at Passover. Quality wines from all over the world now carry the kosher certification and are receiving well-deserved praise.
What makes a wine Kosher?
A kosher wine begins like every other – as grapes on a vine. These grapes may be grown and picked by any one (kosher or non-kosher). But once grapes reach the winery for crushing, the process is under strict rabbinical supervision. From crushing through bottling, the wine must be handled and processed by Sabbath-observing Jews. Barrels and tanks must be deemed kosher for use. The rabbi or Kashrut trained supervisor must observe all of the winemaking process and no work can be done on the Sabbath.
Meshuval v. Non-Meshuval
A meshuval wine is one that has been pasteurized, meaning it has been brought to the boiling point and then cooled. While that sounds like it makes mevushal wines cooked, that is not quite the case. Newer technology and modern winemaking use flash pasteurization, where a wine is brought to the boiling point within seconds and cooled down just as quickly. In some tastings it is difficult to tell the difference between mevushal and non-mevushal. After a wine goes through the meshuval process, it remains kosher no matter what type of handling it receives. A non-kosher waiter or server can open the wine and it still remains kosher. Most kosher wines made in the US are meshuval. More non-meshuval wines are found in Israel, where it is not too difficult for a bottle to remain in kosher hands after bottling until the time of drinking.
Quality in kosher wines has grown (and continues to grow) by leaps and bounds. Kosher wines are found from in France, Spain, California, Italy, New Zealand and Israel. Ratings are increasing by leaps and bounds, and the wines are focusing on producing quality wine, not just kosher wine.