In all but one book of the 24 books of the Torah, Prophets and Scriptures included, wine is mentioned. Whether as part of a ceremonial ritual, or simply encouraged to help bring us more joy, wine takes center stage in the Jewish people’s life.
Each week, as we sit down for the Shabbat meal, we make a blessing over wine, sanctifying the holiness of the day, and celebrating with friends and family. With every holiday on our calendar, we begin the festivities with wine, and we even have a whole holiday dedicated to drinking wine and stepping into the joy it brings!
However, the Torah doesn’t let us drink just any wine, rather it teaches the Jewish people how to make their own wine in a sanctified and calculated way. Wine that undergoes this process is called Kosher, a term meaning “pure.” And while there are certain specifications for wine to be deemed Kosher, most don’t realize that the actual process of winemaking is exactly the same as any other non-Kosher wine. The process of harvesting the grapes, fermentation, and barreling is exactly the same across the board!
Over the years, Kosher wine and food may have developed somewhat of a bad reputation for bringing in lower quality products, however unwarranted this is. In reality, Kosher wine is just as delicious, and most likely developed with higher standards of precision and hygiene than most others. The root difference in the process of Kosher winemaking stems in the meticulous details of the process, making sure proper cleanliness is applied. There may be some specifications in the kashrut process that we do not fully understand today outside of their spiritual and ritual meaning, but many of them are actually agriculturally sound, and are used even by non-kosher winemakers!
Most wines made in Israel are Kosher, however there are quite a few boutique wineries on the rise that produce non-Kosher wine. Yet Kosher wine is made by most big wineries globally.
Slowly, the stigma of Kosher wine around the world is beginning to fade, with a new narrative ready to take its place; Kosher wine can be top quality, refined, rich and robust. And some of the best of it can be found here in Israel.
Some of the greatest wine critics have claimed Israeli Kosher wines to be ranked among the best, making their way up the ladder internationally. With all of our favorite classic wines now made kosher too- cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, merlot, pinot noir (and many more)- Jews around the world can partake in the global wine community without missing a single taste. Non-Jews are even turning to Kosher wines nowadays for their fine quality as well!
And we have Israel to thank for much of this, as it has stood as the backbone and leading innovator in the Kosher wine revolution.