What makes a wine kosher?
This is the most commonly asked question. Two things are necessary.
- Wine which is produced from grapes must be handled by Sabbath observant Jews from the time it is tested for sugar content, until the time it is bottled and sealed with a tamper proof seal, or made mevushal (see the next question and answer).
- All the ingredients used must be certified as being kosher, including all those that are used to process the wine but not necessarily left in the wine after bottling (such as filtering agents etc.)
What is mevushal and why is it important?
Mevushal literally means boiled, however, the way you consider boiling is not necessarily what rabbinic definition is. Most kosher certifications consider about ~165F as a bench mark. The relevance of mevushal comes into play when the venue for the use of the wine is in a public area such as a hotel, country club, etc. Almost all kosher supervisions will not allow anything but mevushal wines as these are the only wines that need not be poured by Sabbath observant jews.
Does the mevushal process ruin the wine?
Absolutely not! Numerous large wine companies use flash pasteurization, also called “High Temperature Short Time” processing, as a method of heat pasteurization of wine which theoretically does not allow the heat to effect the wine. Almost all kosher wine companies use it. Does it make a difference? You be the judge! I will tell you that most people can’t tell. Me? I’m not telling!
What makes wine traditional?
This is probably the second most asked question. Most people think that it has to be red and sweet. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you lived in France a hundred and fifty years ago, you might have drunk a kosher Bordeaux or Burgundy, in Italy it might have been Barolo. So what happened here? How did we end up with Concord, which is really a table grape? My theory is that when our grandparents came here, the only grapes that that were available were Concord. When they made it into wine it was undrinkable, so they just kept on adding sugar until it was palatable. In any case, drink any wine you like, and that will be “your tradition”!
Does wine have to be red to be used for Kiddush?
The answer is no. Use the wine you like most. In fact the kosher wine selection is so large, you should be able to get almost all types in kosher.
Is there any difference between the quality of non kosher and kosher?
Actually the kosher wines have gotten a bum rap (see “what makes a wine traditional?”). In most cases, value to value, the kosher wines are better, and are very rarely not as good.
What is the best temperature to serve wine?
The general rule of thumb is that white wines get served at about 55 degrees and reds at 65 degrees. If you insist on putting wines in the refrigerator (I would use an ice bucket) keep the whites in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes and the reds for about 10 minutes. The same is true for Champagnes. For more specific wines and questions, call us.
Do you have to drink whites with fish and reds with meat?
Only in the case of fish would it be a good idea to pair with whites. The reason is that the oil in the fish combines with the tannic acid to give that vinegary first taste. However generally speaking, all wines should be paired with the region they came from. Italian foods, Italian wines, Spanish foods, Spanish wines, you get the picture. For more specific questions, send us a menu or call and we’ll be happy to pair it for you, we do it all the time.