Wine is a staple of Jewish ritual. Every Friday day — and every holiday, for that matter — we say Kiddush before we’re allowed to drink. Every year at Passover we are told to drink four cups of wine; so why not make it good wine?
We had so much sampling beer and cocktails at Purim that TC Jewfolk is partnering with Top Ten Liquors in St. Louis Park as the store is holding their first Kosher Wine Tasting event on March 30 from 5:30-8 p.m. The event is going to feature more than 30 award-winning Kosher and mevushal wines from around the world, including several brand new Kosher wines to the Minnesota market from The River Wine. All of the Kosher wine will be on sale from March 27-April 8.
“There is such a beautiful human history in wine,” said Siri Nyman, the wine buyer at the store. “Wines from Israel play a very important role in cementing family, religion, and tradition.”
Ami Nahari, CEO of The River Wine will be at the event pouring some of the wines that they import and distribute, including Tishbi, Twin Suns, and Contessa Annalisa. Other Kosher wines that will be sampled and on-sale include Bartenura and Baron Herzog, among others.
We all know what makes food kosher or not; generally, kashrut deals with avoidance of specific ingredients which aren’t normally used in wine-making – which are grapes. You’d think that would make all wines kosher, but, the laws of kashrut when it comes to wine goes an extra step. According to traditional Jewish law, once the grapes are picked and brought to be crushed, only Shabbat-observant Jews can be involved in making the wine. That means for the winemaking process, no one who isn’t observant may handle the product.
There is also another level of kosher wine, which is mevushal. Mevushal wines traditionally were boiled or cooked so that idol worshippers wouldn’t use the wine for the purpose of idolatry.
“The choice to boil the wine stemmed from the belief that non-believers would never boil the wine as it was considered ‘blasphemous.'” Nyman said. “Hence, non-believers would never drink mevushal wines.”
Traditionally, she said, mevushal wines also allowed non-believers to pour the wines for Sabbat-observing Jews.
However, in talking about wine, Nyman hit on an analogy that ties winemaking to Judaism.
“More vines struggle to survive, the better the fruit on them,” she said. “And the more deeply they are buried, they can weather literally anything.”