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Sipping Under the Sukkah: Kosher Wines

Today The Jew and the Carrot brings you two beverage stories for drinks to enjoy in your sukkah. The first installment explores Kosher wines and this afternoon, check back for the second installment to learn how to infuse rye for the holiday.

In past years, most oenophiles have looked at kosher wines as something to be endured out of respect to family members or in honor of a holiday. But the days of overly sweet [Concord grape Malaga , or tasteless, boiled mevushal wines are thankfully behind us. With the introduction of new techniques like flash pasteurization and the ability to “cook” the wine to a lower temperature the process of producing kosher wines has been made easier and more palatable to wine makers around the world.

With 55% of kosher products being purchased by non-kosher consumers because of perceptions of purity and quality, many wine producers are finding it worth their while to take the extra step of producing a kosher product. Some importers also commission a special run of quality wines from Spain, Italy, France, Australia, Chile or Portugal, made according to the laws of Kashrut.


At a recent tasting event in New York, organized by Aron Ritter, founder of the Kosher Wine Society, there were so many good wines to try that I wasn’t even able to taste them all. One of the purposes of this event was to introduce attendees to new wines appropriate for the Jewish New Year and the corresponding holidays.

At the Allied Importers’s table I sipped on Borgo Reale Maturo, produced in the style of Amarone from partially dried Primitivo grapes and barrel aged for six months, which results in a wine with extra intensity. This luscious, rich wine deserves to be paired with a steak dinner. The Joseph River Estate Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot-Shiraz blend, a medium-bodied red wine, also showed fairly well, with some complexity.

For Sukkot, I recommend a chilled glass of Spanish En Fuego Cava. It is a perfect start for a warm evening under the sukkah. The sparkling white wine will pair well with almost any hors d’oeuvres from crudités to a cheese platter or a selection of roasted nuts.

Happy Hearts Wine Importers, displayed an impressive variety of wines from Israel. My favorites included two wines from Mony, a winery located in the hills of the religious town Bet-Shemesh. The Sunny Hills Rosé (2009) produced from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, has a lovely dark pink color. When served chilled, its dry, crisp flavor with rounded berry notes is also a refreshing way to open the palate before dinner. Mony’s Classic Massada, a citrusy (and mevushal or strictly kosher) white wine, can be served chilled with a light first course of salad or fish.

Happy Hearts also offered a taste of newly released ports from Israel including the 2007 Odem Mountain Amber, a complex golden brown port, and Or Haganuz Har Sinai, a sweet but not-too-sweet and very intriguing wine made from frozen grapes (but not technically an ice wine, which must be made from grapes that freeze on the vine.) Either would be an excellent way to finish off a delightful evening under the sukkah.


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