Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Passover and Wine

In Jewish tradition, wine is a sacred beverage that plays an important part in many religious ceremonies.  During Seder, there is an obligation to drink four cups of wine. Passover began Monday, the 25th and will end on April 2nd.

Kosher wines can only contain kosher ingredients. According to Jewish law, after the grapes are picked and crushed, only Shabbat-observant Jews can handle the fermented juice and make the wines.

The rules for kosher wines are extensive. Kosher regulations require that only practicing male Jews handle the winemaking equipment and the kosher wines.  These rules were set up so that Jews would never get a glass of wine that had been used for, or in connection with, idol worship.
But since you could still not be sure of the wines served at public gatherings and parties, mevushal wines were introduced.  Mevushal means boiled - a wine has been heated and boiled.  A mevushal wine is believed to be less susceptible to prohibited rituals.  Therefore any one can open a mevushal wine without altering its standing as a kosher wine.  The only problem has been that the boiling removed most of the flavor.

However, today a mevushal wine is no longer boiled.  Instead, it undergoes flash pasteurization or HTST (high temperature short time) to retain the flavors of the wine.
During this flash pasteurization, the wine is heated up quickly to around 180 degrees for just less than 60 seconds.  It is then chilled down quickly back to room temperature in order to preserve those wonderful wine flavors.

There are many kosher wines that are non-mevushal.  Since red wines are sensitive to heating, the flash pasteurizing doesn’t lend to the taste.  Wines may be certified kosher and certified kosher for Passover and not be mevushal.

While there are kosher wines, there are also kosher for Passover wines.  These wines must be made with yeasts that are natural and indigenous. In other words, no yeast that has been in contact with grain, bread or dough. The wine must not contain common preservatives or non-kosher ingredients.

All Israeli wines are Kosher for Passover. Most other kosher wines are kosher for Passover, but be sure to check the label for the P.

In the U.S., there are several wineries that produce kosher wines.

Covenant Wines located in St Helena, California offers five kosher wines: three Napa Cabernets, a Sonoma Chardonnay, and a Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon Blanc.  All Covenant Wines are made under the supervision of the Orthodox Union and are kosher for Passover.

Don Ernesto believes “Good wines shouldn’t be complicated.” (Don Ernesto is Ernie Weir, owner of Hagafen Cellars.) There are five wines offered including two red table wines, Crescendo and Clarinet.  The whites include a Rose de Syrah, and College White.  All are kosher for Passover and Mevushal wines.

Hagafen Cellars is located in Napa Valley.  Winemaker Ernie Weir produces the wines according to Jewish dietary laws.  Only 8,000 cases are produced each year. The wines include Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Chardonnay, several Rieslings, Sauvignon Blanc and a Brut Cuvee’.

Herzog Wine Cellars is located in Oxnard, California.  In operation for over 100 years, the winery offers several varietals including Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, even Champagne. All wines are certified kosher.

Weinstock Wine Cellars offers wines that are Mevushal and kosher for Passover.  Located in California, the kosher wines include Cabernet, Merlot, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, White Zin, and Moscato.

So maybe it’s time to consider an interesting American kosher wine for Passover.  And remember, Ein Simcha Ela BeBasar Veyayin—"There is no joy except through meat and wine".

~ Joy

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