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Kosher Wines

Kosher Wines

Like most American-born Jews born before 1980, I grew up associating kosher wine with sweet, Manischewitz kiddush wine. To me, Friday night still isn't the same without it, but the kosher wine industry has taken huge leaps forward over the last two decades, and top quality table wines are available from just about every continent.

In Israel, most tourists are familiar with the Golan Heights Winery in Katzrin and Mizrachi Carmel Winery in Zichron Ya'akov, but dozens of boutique wineries have cropped up in Israel's highland areas over the past decade, including more than a few kosher ones. Drive Israel features a self-guided driving tour of some of the finest ones in the northern region, and six out of the nine wineries are kosher. One place that didn't make it onto the list, Dalton Winery just north of Tzfat, produces some of the finest kosher wine currently on the market.

In the Jerusalem area, the Gush Etzion Winery is located 15 minutes south of the capital, and features a classy dairy menu to boot (local tip: they also make one of the best cappuccinos in the area!). To the east, Hamasrek is located just off the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway, on Moshav Beit Meir in the lush
Jerusalem forest. Domaine du Castel (Ramat Raziel) Tzora Wines (Kibbutz Tzora) also provide high-quality wines in limited numbers. In both Jerusalem and the north, larger operations offer regularly-scheduled tours and wine tasting, but those wishing to visit smaller operations are advised to call first.

On the internet, several portals have made international kosher wines accessible and affordable. The Kosher Wine Review is exactly what the URL says it is: a comprehensive review of virtually every kosher wine in the world. In addition, Finest Wine has a magnificent selection of kosher Italian and French table wines, and Australia-based Kosher Wine features information about Beckett’s Flat and Teal
Lake, the country's two kosher labels. Another useful portal is Israel Wines (site loads in Hebrew, but there is a link to the English-language content on the right side of the page).

For newcomers to the intricacies of kosher wines, the high holiday period brought on a flurry of "introduction to kosher wine" articles, including several from unlikely sources. Oddly enough, the Twin Cities (Minnesota) Daily Planet featured an informative, well-written overview of kosher wine, and of kashrut in general for the uninitiated. The Jerusalem Post did the same a week earlier, as did a nifty-looking Atlanta-based e-zine called Creative Loafing.