Kosher Wines – What Makes Wine Kosher or Non Kosher?

Wine has been around for thousands of years and has been a significant part of many religions for almost as long.  Wine was widely used in Israel in Judaism until the Muslim took Israel and decreed it to be a Muslim state.  The Jewish population worldwide has continued to use kosher wines both for religious occasions and for enjoyment.  It is very important for an Orthodox Jew to only use wine that is kosher and while the fundamental ingredients in wine are kosher the process is often not.  The process of making wine can lead to minute contaminates in the wine resulting in it becoming non kosher.

For kosher wines to be manufactured a Sabbath-observant Jew must oversee the process from start to finish.  Starting with the harvesting the grapes in the fields to the fermentation in the vats through to the bottling process.  It is very important that every step remain kosher and not introduce any non kosher contaminates into the wine.  Some wineries use gelatin for finings and that alone will make a wine non kosher.  Wineries catering to the Jewish market will go to great lengths to ensure that does not happen and keep the “hechsher”, or seal of approval.

Mevushal wine is one of the kosher wines that often used by caterers for bar mitzvahs and other Jewish occasions.  If a wine is mevushal it can be served by a non Jew waiter without compromise.  Mevushal wine is made by boiling the wine and while this kills the mold and is an accepted method to produce a kosher wine it does affect the quality of the wine.  While that may be acceptable for a purely religious occasion it isn’t good for the enjoyment factor.  Recently wineries have been experimenting with pasteurization as a process that produces kosher wine without any negative effect on the taste.

Even if a wine is pasteurized a Jewish supervisor must oversee the process.  Often a winery produces both kosher and non kosher wine and a supervisor works hard to make sure the kosher wine is not compromised by the non kosher process.  Excellent kosher wines can be found in France, Spain, California, Israel, Italy, New York, and New Zealand.  With the advent pasteurization the selection has made great strides.  The ability to find wine that has an excellent taste and that happens to be kosher is important and that is making the market grow by leaps and bounds.

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