With the approach of the Jewish holiday Passover, the demand for kosher wine rises, as four glasses of wine per person are ritually consumed during the holiday dinner, or seder. Many shoppers seem reluctant to purchase kosher wines, as if they can’t compare to their nonkosher counterparts. But although kosher wines once had poor reputations, technological advances have increased their variety and quality, prompting consumers to rethink their opinions.
Generally speaking, kosher wine must be produced according to the Jewish dietary laws and under strict rabbinical supervision. Commercially available wines must have the hechsher (seal of approval) of a rabbi, supervising agency or organization. A kosher wine labeled mevushal has undergone an additional heating process—a much gentler process for today’s wines, thanks to flash-pasteurization—which makes it possible for non-Jews or nonobservant Jews to handle the finished product while still preserving the wine’s kosher certification.
These top Israeli wines are worth considering not just for the holidays, but for year-round enjoyment, whether you keep kosher or not. The country’s wine producers have made significant strides over recent years, and are now producing high quality wines thanks to a deepened understanding of Israel’s terroirs and which grape varieties perform best in the Mediterranean climate. L’Chaim!
Barkan 2012 Special Reserve Winemakers’ Choice Chardonnay (Judean Hills); $25, 90 points.
Domaine Netofa 2013 Estate Bottled Chenin Blanc (Galilee); $25, 89 points.
Carmel 2013 Selected Sauvignon Blanc (Galilee); $11, 89 points.
Shiloh Winery 2010 Legend Red (Judean Hills); $40, 93 points.
Dalton 2012 Alma Shiraz-Grenache-Mourvedre Red (Galilee); $25, 92 points.
Tzuba 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon (Judean Hills); $30, 92 points.