Wine Blogging Wednesday #56: Fine Kosher Wine

By Kori ~ April 15th, 2009.

Our host for the April edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday, the blogosphere’s monthly virtual wine tasting event, is John of The Corkdork. He selected Fine Kosher Wine as this month’s theme in which he asked us to taste something reputed to be Fine Kosher Wine and then write about it. In the past, kosher wines have been stigmatized, but according to The Corkdork, there are a host of good ones out there, many you may be surprised to learn are kosher.

2007 Teal Lake ShirazKosher wine must be produced and handled only by Jews, from the moment the grapes enter the barrels until it is poured into the wineglass. Wine that is to be handled by non-Jews, such as distributors, waiters and salespeople, must go through a process to make it mevushal. In Hebrew the word mevushal means cooked or boiled. While not literally boiled, mevushal wines are flash pasteurized to a temperature that meets the requirements of an overseeing rabbinical authority. Anyone, Jewish or not, may open a mevushal wine and it will remain kosher. However, non-mevushal wines should be opened and poured by Jews only.

I was a bit skeptical of this theme at first but was game to try something new and different. Unfortunately, as you’ll see from my tasting notes below, the two wines we tasted were disappointing.

Let me say that our choices were limited. I can only imagine how difficult these wines are to find in rural areas when we had trouble locating them in Seattle. After a few calls to the larger wine shops in town that we learned do not carry any kosher wines, we found a small selection at a local Jewish shop called Tree of Life Judaica. They sell many Jewish items and books and offer a small kosher wine selection. According to the salesperson, the 2006 Galil Mountain Shiraz and the 2007 Teal Lake Shiraz that we purchased are two of the best wines they carry.

2006 Galil Mountain ShirazWe chose these two so that we could blind taste two wines of the same varietal from two different parts of the world. Also, the Teal Lake is mevushal while the Galil Mountain in non-mevushal. We thought these two wines would provide us with an interesting comparison. Interesting? Yes. Good? No.

2006 Galil Mountain Shiraz (Galilee, Israel): Non-mevushal. Ruby red and very aromatic, perfumy. Red fruits prevalent up front. Then an earthiness appears on the mid-palate and sticks with you through the finish. Medium-bodied with medium tannins and a long finish. Gets better with food but is still not very good.
Quality: 2.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: NR (not recommended)
Where to buy: Tree of Life Judaica (Seattle), $18.99

2007 Teal Lake Shiraz (South Eastern Australia): Mevushal. Purple with slight browning around the edges (unusual for such a young wine). Stinky with aromas of manure and burnt rubber. Tastes like burnt grape juice. Medium-bodied and low tannins. A very simple wine with a long, bitter finish.
Quality: 2 stars (out of 5)
QPR: NR (not recommended)
Where to buy: Tree of Life Judaica (Seattle), $13.99

Filed under: Australian Wine, Israeli Wine, Red Wine, Shiraz/Syrah, Wine Blogging Wednesday, Wines NOT To Buy (1 & 2 Star), Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. Markus | April 15th, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Hi Kori,

    It’s ashame you guys didn’t have better access to Kosher wines. I am rather surprised a larger city such as Seattle had such a limited selection. While I have to agree with you most Kosher wines do lack the follow though of non-kosher, there are many kosher producers creating quality wines.

    A few to check out would be Hagafen Cellars in Napa, Herzog Wine Cellars in Napa, or Yarden Wines from Israel. Hagafen has actually been served at the White House when Jewish Leaders have been guests. While it’s no Harlan, for the money, I think many of these will rank higher on your ratings scale.

    Perhaps you can give the Kosher Wine Makers another try some day. Great to see some attention being brought to a growing segment of the industry.

    All the best,

  2. Kori | April 15th, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    Thanks for the recommendations. I hope our next kosher wine experience is a better one. Cheers!

  3. Bethany | July 2nd, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Please check out our website There are several wines worth trying. In fact, there are many that comparable, if not better, to non-kosher selections. Not only do we have over 550 Kosher wines from around the world, we also ship anywhere inside the continental United States.

  4. Moti | July 14th, 2009 at 4:12 am

    You can find “Teal Lake Shiraz” at:
    for just $10.99

  5. kosherwineshop | October 25th, 2009 at 4:45 am

    I am happy to see that there are so many fans of Kosher wine. The hard work involved in its production deserves recognition.