Lesson #142: Kosher Wine

Wine aging at Tishbi

My friend in Jerusalem has a contact who is a wine distributor. Since we had the car and he was headed up north to see some of his winery people, he agreed to take us along free of charge on an informal wine tasting tour at some of the wineries up near Haifa.

Now, I’m not much of a wine fan. For all the subtleties I can taste in beers, I’ve got nothing for wine. I don’t particularly enjoy it; it’s got a sharpness I don’t care for. But when in Rome… It didn’t convert me to a wine drinker or anything, but it was really fun to go and see the wineries and taste the different kinds of wine and meet the winemakers and hear their stories, which I imagine is not a part of a regular tour.

And, because our guide was so knowledgeable, I asked him about 80 million questions about the kosher winemaking process. He was good enough to answer them for me. (Thanks David!)

Because there’s no slaughter or anything like you have in kosher meat and wine isn’t something that can’t be mixed with another thing to prevent it from being kosher, the process by which a wine is deemed kosher is that from the time it crosses a certain point in the process between the picking and the separating of the grapes from the leaves and stems indicated by an actual line in the sand (a figurative one, not a literal one, but the implication is there) after which the wine can no longer be touched by anyone who isn’t Sabbath observant* until it has been bottled and/or packaged for shipping, which is also demarcated by some sort of line. The people who handle the wine making process in the interim must be approved by a rabbi as being Sabbath observant before they can join the process. A lot of more orthodox Jews will also not accept a glass of kosher wine that has been poured by someone who isn’t Sabbath observant.**

*By which is meant that the person observes all the rules pertaining to the Sabbath such as no travel, no electricity, no cooking, prayer, etc. from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday.

**For more about what makes wines kosher and how they’re made see here and here.

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