Sometimes we want to host friends, but don’t have the time or energy to cook or plan a full dinner party affair. One of our new favorite hostess activities is to bring people together for an afternoon or evening of wine tasting. These can take on different themes, from type (sparkling or dessert), to region (Tuscany or Napa). With the impressive strides that kosher wines have taken in the last few years, we thought that it would be fun to host a home wine tasting focused on this underrepresented segment of the wine world.
For those of you whose heads are going straight to Manischewitz, think again. We’re happy to inform you that gone are the days of sweet syrup masquerading as wine. Today, a number of legitimately good kosher wines are on the market and now is certainly the time to impress all your friends with them. Here are our tips:
1. Select Your Wines
We generally choose between four and six different wines, so that it’s not overwhelming to your guests (or yourself). We have no problem mixing whites and reds, but the key here is to serve them from light to dark so you don’t ruin the palate by beginning with heavier wines. You can also start by serving a glass of sparking while you wait for everyone to arrive before starting the tasting.
We strongly encourage you to head to your local kosher-carrying wine store to learn more about what’s available, but for those of you who are short on time, here are a few of our favorites:
- Freixnet Kosher Brut: What wine tasting is complete without sparkles? Luckily, this affordable brand’s sole kosher offering is a delicious cava.
- Bartenura Moscato: Arguably the most well known Kosher wine after Manischewitz. This Italian brand’s Moscato is both sweet and crisp. It’s blue bottle is sure to add a recognizable pop to your tasting table.
- Tishbi Vineyards Emerald Riesling: This Israeli riesling appeals to multiple palates with its dry, yet fruity undertone and is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
- Yarden Merlot: From one of Israel’s most established kosher vineyards, this Merlot is our pick for the best Golan Heights has to offer.
- Dalton Winery Cabernet Sauvignon: This Galilee winery’s Cab is both nuanced and robust, giving your guests plenty to taste and discuss.
2. Prep Your Wine
Be sure to prep your wines appropriately before your guests arrive. White and sparkling wines should be chilled and kept on ice, or taken out of the refrigerator immediately beforehand. Contrary to popular belief, it is also best to serve red wines slightly chilled. Pop them in the fridge for about 15 minutes before your guests arrive and they’ll be perfect for serving.
3. Choose Your Glassware
While the serious wine connoisseur will taste wines in a glass made for their specific varietal, we generally like to keep things easy (and affordable) by using all purpose stemware. It’s also a good idea to provide some sort of vessel (like a vase or ice bucket) for your guests to dump remaining wine that they don’t care for into.
4. Don’t Forget Snacks
With nearly any social event, snacks are key. For practical tasting purposes, you’ll want to provide thinly sliced bread like baguette (or even challah) or crackers to help cleanse the palette. How much and what food you’ll want to serve likely depends on the time of day (afternoon, pre- or post-dinner). We also recommend cheese, grapes and nuts (like marcona almonds). If your tasting is later in the evening, you may also consider bringing out some sort of chocolate dessert once you begin serving your reds.