Six new kosher wines delight your palate
By Linda Kissam
Photos by Allan Kissam unless indicated
Great tasting kosher wine is not an oxymoron. Long associated with the sweet Passover staple Manischewitz, everyone needs to know there’s some new styles on the kosher wine scene – and wine aficionados are going to love them.
Premium kosher wines can come from Israel as easily as they can from California New Zealand or Italy. Bottom line, it’s perfectly normal to find a kosher wine from a well-known region that tastes just as good as all the other non-kosher wines made around it.
For a wine to be kosher in the viticulture sense, the vines the grapes grow on must be at least four years old and left unharvested every seventh year. The winemaking process must adhere to kosher regulations, and the tools may not be used for purposes outside of winemaking. In addition, these tools may only be used by practicing male Jews.
Trying kosher wines with friends is a good way to taste what’s new from this underrepresented segment of the wine world. Today, I am going to suggest six wines for you to try with friends. I did exactly the same thing a few weeks ago with eight friends. Five were wine writers, two were photographers and one was what we call, “the consumer,” who is there to tell the group what the “real life” folks think.
With legitimately good kosher wines are on the market, now is the time to impress friends with them. Here’s my tips for a kosher wine tasting:
Wines and Assignments
As host, I provide the wines. I assign each guest or couple a wine to provide an appetizer for.
Wines & Appetizers
Choose six different wines. It’s fine to mix whites and reds. Serve the whites first. The key here is to serve your group of whites and reds from light to heavy or dry to sweet so you don’t ruin the palate by beginning with heavier or sweeter wines. Serve a glass of sparking while you wait for everyone to arrive for the tasting.
Here are the six kosher wines we tried at one of our Wine Review Council member’s home in San Diego, CA. Each wine was paired with a non-kosher appetizer.
These wines may not be as accessible as your Mondavi’s and Duckhorn’s so you’ll need to search for them in your larger or specialized wine store or online.
- 2014 Flam Unoaked Blanc. A combination of Chardonnay & Sauvignon Blanc (SB). Pair with Spinach, Potatoes and Leek Fritta. $31. Light, crispy, zesty SB with a dose of Chardonnay to add a little ripeness and body. Grapefruit, honeysuckle and grass. Overall, a good spring and summer drink from one of Israel’s best. This was the group’s white wine favorite.
- 2014 Matar by Pelter. A Sauvignon Blanc & Sémillon blend. $33 Pair with a lemon tart or lemon poppy seed muffin. Enjoy a nose of classic SB notes of rich peach and grapefruit, followed by lovely tart and crisp fruit. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is rich with ripe and tart lemon curd, citrus pith, yellow apple, fresh cut grass, with a hint of straw in the background
- 2014 Teperberg Essence Chardonnay. $36. Pair with Gluten-free apple, grape and Fennel pizza. Complex and juicy characterized by a deep clear golden hue. Grapefruit citrus nose. Soft buttery and nutty aromas. Acidity and ripe fruitiness on the palate.
- 2010 Carmel Winery Merlot Sha’al Vineyard. $33. Roast beef roll appetizer. Made from unspoiled grapes grown in beautiful Galilee vineyards. You’ll like the sophisticated balance between fruit aromas and minerals, this wine has a mature tannic structure giving it fantastic longevity and status. This Galilee winery’s Merlot is both nuanced and robust, giving guests plenty to taste and discuss. This was the group’s overall wine choice for the evening.
- 2012 Netofa Tinto Basse Galilee (Tempranillo & Tiouriga). $24. Paella or smoked cheeses make a good pairing. Dark ruby in color with a light purple hue, on the nose red and black fruit with a hint of peach as well as pipe tobacco and spices. Medium to full-bodied with on the palate blackberries, tart cherries, coffee and Asian spices with intense tannins lingering on the long and juicy finish.
- 2012 Tabor Adama Shiraz. $18. Premium chocolate pieces. The wine maintains a deep purple color characteristic of Shiraz and combines raspberry and violet flavors. The barrels give the wine hints of cedar and oak, for a balanced and smooth full body
Prep Your Wine
Be sure to prep your wines appropriately before your guests arrive. White and sparkling wines should be chilled and kept on ice, or taken out of the refrigerator immediately beforehand. It’s fine to serve some lighter red wines slightly chilled – especially in the summer. Pop them in the fridge for about 15 minutes before your guests arrive and they’ll be perfect for serving.