Thursday, February 23, 2006

Random Kosher Wine Tasting


So I was in my old place of employment picking out a white burgundy for someone special when...oh, is that a vendor tasting wine? Don't mind if I do. Today's sampling: a selection of kosher wines from the Abarbanel Wine Company in Cedarhurst, purveyors of kosher wines that aren't your Grandmother's Manischewitz.

A year ago, I couldn't help but notice the seeming lack of kosher wines around passover. But, it didn't seem to phase the younger customers in the market for them; they simply bought the obligatory bottle of cheap stuff and then asked for suggestions for the "real" bottle, the one they'd drink after the Seder. But it seems that there's a burgeoning market of wines that want to be that "real" bottle and be Passover appropriate to boot.



Pictured above is one of the wines I talked Michael Mann into giving me so's I could take a picture of the bottle. See where the vintage is either 2002 or 5762? The latter number is the vintage according to the Hebrew calendar. I believe they begin that calendar from the moment man took his first breath (my own calendar begins with my first purchase of a Tom Waits LP, just for comparison.)

The juice within is from the Judean Hills. Pleasant nose on it, smells like sweet aromatic spice. Wide juicy red fruit was alright, but it was a bit sweet and once it had warmed up a little too much, it had that slight pickly thing on the back end. But you're only going to notice that kinda thing if you're sitting there chewing on it. I think it's a good crowd pleaser for passover--handsome label, juicy Bordeaux style with ample fruit and not too dry for your fussy aunts. Retails for around $12-$15.

Fun Fact, from the Abarbanel site:

There are two levels of kosher wine, that made through the normal processes of winemaking and that made with one extra process. That second process is called "Mevushal." Mevushal is the Hebrew word for "cooked."

For wine to retain its kosherness when opened and poured by a non-Jew, such as waiters, the laws of kashrut stipulate that the wine be made chemically different from non-kosher wine in every respect - in this case, that it be made Mevushal. A Mevushal wine retains its religious purity no matter who opens or pours it or drinks it. Modern technology allows the rules of fine wine production to merge satisfactorily with religious laws.

I was told by Mr. Mann that the same effect of 'Meshuval' is now being acheived by flash freezing, rather than heating.

Check out the Ababanel site. There's a lot of info on the kosher process and it's significance. I was impressed with the collection of kosher vino from all over the place. Must be a nice thing to have some choices other than Gan Eden, Baron Herzog or Mouton Cadet.

See, random tastings and conversation are the kinds of things that make wine a worthwhile interest, not hoarding up a vast collection of expensive bottles or belonging to the Screaming Eagle mailing list or wtf ever. And to the end of making everyone realize this, I submit to you my new mantra:

WINE - PEOPLE = BOOZE

Everybody got that?????

Clinkies.

9 Comments:

Anonymous wineguy said...

[From the Arbanel site...]:
"For wine to retain its kosherness when opened and poured by a non-Jew, such as waiters, the laws of kashrut stipulate that the wine be made chemically different from non-kosher wine in every respect - in this case, that it be made Mevushal. A Mevushal wine retains its religious purity no matter who opens or pours it or drinks it."
The point as I understand it is that once a food product (including wine) has been cooked then it can be handled by non-Jews without altering its purity. So if you are buying a wine to open and serve yourself at Passover, it does not have to be Meuvshal, but if you are purchasing it for a situation where a caterer will open and serve it then it should be.
Just a minor clarification.

8:19 AM  
Blogger taj said...

Thanks, and you're right. The paragraph in question has been mysteriously altered to reflect this clarification.

The original statement was based on the way Mr. Mann had worded the process, and a bit of sloppy rushing on my part. Lo ciento.

12:56 PM  
Blogger g58 said...

Great post. I wimped out of putting in a similar effort for my own blog when I tried the Domaine de Bélouvé (which is the rabinical blessed type I'm guessing, not the cooked kind). Bélouvé is from the reputatable Bunan brothers of Bandol fame, which is why I bought it when I saw it on sale. Far from a Bandol and it fact loaded with Cabernet Sauvignon, this smooth and dry Bordelais-style wine is quite nice. I don't know whether I would pay full price for it though. That seems a bit hefty ($23).

Any idea if Kosher costs more?

6:56 AM  
Blogger taj said...

I'd say...it's not any more marked up than your typical overpriced wine. When I worked in retail, there always seemed to be a gap: you either paid $5-$8 or $23 and up. But the Abarbanel company has quite a collection in a wide price range.

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