Kosher wine: what is it and how is it made?
If you are reading this post, then today is one of those days when you learn something new before bedtime. Have you ever wondered what a kosher wine is? The answer might be yes or it might be no, but bet you agree that an investment in knowledge pays the best interest. So, prepare yourself, because today at Grupo Coviñas we tell you everything there is to know about kosher wine. Let’s go!
What is kosher wine?
The term kosher comes from Hebrew and means fit or proper. In terms of wine it refers to wine whose production must meet strict standards under the supervision of a Jewish religious authority or, failing that, experts in this area . And it should remain untouched by non-Jewish hands.
This is not to imply that the wine tastes different, in fact, it is impossible to identify a kosher wine in a blind tasting from one that is not. And, as with all wines, its quality is based on two fundamental factors, the vineyard and the winemaking.
It is interesting to note that a kosher wine can come from vineyards anywhere in the world and that not all wines made in Israel are kosher. Also, all grape varieties are allowed, though the use of local indigenous grapes is preferable.
In order to market a kosher wine, the hechsher is required, that is, the seal of approval from a kosher supervisory body, an organization such as the OU (Orthodox Union) or a rabbinical authority, or a “posek”, a decision-maker on matters of Jewish law. It is an interesting fact that 1% of the profits generated by sales of these wines go to charitable causes.
The consumption of kosher wine within the Jewish community accompanies many of its rituals, such as circumcision, marriage and the start of all sabbatical and festive meals. Therefore, its consumption, throughout the world, is significant, especially in the United States, Israel, France and the United Kingdom.
I bet there are loads of questions you’d like to ask. Take a deep breath, keep reading and you’ll have the answers. Are you ready to find out about this intriguing wine?
Requirements for a wine to be considered kosher
Kosher wine is produced according to the rules set down in the Torah, specifically the laws of the kashrut, which were passed down to Moses at Mount Sinai and set out the food requirements for practising Jews.
As far as wine is concerned, this has more to do with human beings than with specific ingredients prohibited in kashrut. As such:
- Only practising Jews can take part in the winemaking process, from harvest to bottling. The grapes must reach the winery in good condition and perfectly ripe.
- The person overseeing things, who does not have to be a rabbi, ensures that Jewish law is respected. From the start of the harvest until the end of bottling, their hands are now the hands of the winemaker, acting in tandem with the Technical Director of the winery throughout, as the latter sets out the steps to be followed.
- All machinery used throughout process is properly sanitized and used exclusively for the production of kosher certified wines at this time.
- Another peculiarity of kosher wine has to do with the Pesach or Passover. The religious authority guarantees that it does not contain certain yeasts because these are not allowed during this holy day. The use of animal products not permitted (egg white is accepted, but only if the eggshell is white and inspected by the rabbi). Gelatin and casein are not allowed, nor is the addition of bacteria, yeast or enzymes.
- The use of organic fertilizers is not allowed in the vineyard and the grapes must be from vines that are at least four years old. In Israel they also have the custom of not harvesting in the seventh year to allow the vineyard to rest and recover.
Types of kosher wine
If we focus on the production process and leave religion aside, technically we find two varieties of kosher wine: mevushal and non-mevushal.
- Mevushal wine receives a specific treatment so as not to lose its spiritual purity and so it can be opened and served by a person who is not religiously observant without losing its kosher essence. The technique consists of subjecting the liquid at high temperature for a few seconds, a process similar to pasteurization.
- Non-mevushal wines are the quintessential kosher wines, they can only be served by people who follow the rules of kashrut.
Where is kosher wine made?
In recent years the greater demand for kosher wines has led to increased production. As with vegan wine, more and more countries are producing it, including Spain, where we, Grupo Coviñas, are among those wineries.
During the production of kosher wine, we adapt our facilities to comply with all the regulations of this meticulous process, under the supervision of a Jewish religious authority at all times.
As you have seen once again, the world of wine is a wonderland. If you are one of those people with an insatiable curiosity for this sort of thing, we recommend our posts on tannins in wine in general and bobal in particular. And don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with all our news!