Kosher wines are regular wines, produced in observance of, and in compliance with, Jewish religious dietary laws (Kashrut). The religious laws outline a standard for food preparation as well as winemaking.
In the vineyard, there are agricultural laws that date back to Biblical times which are, not surprisingly, similar to quality viticulture practices elsewhere in the world. By law, no fruit from the first 3 growing seasons of a vine may be used to make wine. No other fruit may be grown between the vines. Every seventh year, the vineyards are to be left fallow and allowed to rest. Creative solutions to this law are often negotiated between the Rabbis and winery owners as this law can have an impact on the economics of the winery. Finally, over one percent of the wine produced must be poured away in remembrance of the ten percent tithe once paid to the Temple in Jerusalem.
In general, the winemaking techniques used to make Kosher wine are the same as used to make non-Kosher wine—the grapes are grown and harvested, fermented in tank or barrel, and aged in tank or barrel. For a wine to be Kosher, however, the wine can only be handled by religious Jews during winemaking. In addition, only yeasts, fining agents (removed sediments from wine) and cleaning materials that are certified to be Kosher and not derived from animals may be used. This eliminates fining agents like casein (from dairy), gelatin (from animal collagen) and isinglass (from a fish’s bladder). Egg whites may be used as a fining agent, though often aren’t used, thus yielding a Kosher wine that is also vegan.
The Recanati Winery is located in the Hefer Valley, along the west coast of Israel (north of Tel Aviv) produces Kosher wines. The winery was founded in 2000 by Lenny Recanati and some fellow wine enthusiasts, with the goal of producing quality Israeli wines with an attractive sales price. Most of the grapes used in making Recanati’s wine come from vineyards in the Manara and Kerem Ben-Zimra regions in Upper Galilee, and vineyards in the Ella Valley and the Lower Galilee. The grapes grown include the noble grapes Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, in addition to Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Barbera, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Colombard, and Riesling.
This coming Saturday, April 20th, 2019, City Vino will be featuring Recanati Merlot as one of its selected wines. This wine is Kosher and has flavors of black plum, blueberry, black pepper, and smoke.