Some of us think of kosher wines as something that we have to drink rather than want to drink. But not all OU-stamped vino is sickly sweet — kosher wine can actually be excellent, so long as you choose the right bottle.
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"Kosher wine is no different from wine that is not certified as kosher," says Gabriel Geller, a wine expert at Royal Wine Corp., an international distributor owned by the Herzog family, who's been winemaking since the 19th century.
"The winemaking process is technically identical, and the only significant difference is that a crew of Sabbath-observant Jews handle all steps of the process from the moment the grapes arrive from the vineyard at the winery through the time the wine is bottled," Geller tells LIVESTRONG.com.
"The winemaker instructs the crew what to do, when and how — like a conductor directing an orchestra."
Kosher wines adhere to the same basic rules as many non-kosher wines, but they do so more strictly. No animal byproducts or acidifying agents are used, and only yeasts born of grapes can be harvested.
Like regular wine, there are generally no added ingredients in kosher wines other than sulfites — and there are a few well-priced options from California and Israel for those who'd prefer to go without or are sensitive to sulfites.
To choose a good kosher wine, Geller recommends "looking for the region the wine comes from, avoid encountering a wine that would be past its prime." When it comes to color,
- Choose red wines that are not older than five years from harvest
- Choose whites that are not older than two years from harvest
Now that we've got the basics down, here are some of the best kosher wine brands, according to Geller.
1. Baron Herzog Chardonnay
A dry white, this complex wine is made with Central Coast and Russian River Chardonnay grapes, with hints of vanilla, tropical fruits, citrus and apple. This wine has a "creamy mouthfeel" and would pair well with baked salmon or a veal neck roast, Geller says.
2. Herzog Lineage Choreograph 2020
This is a very bold wine with a unique blend of flavors, including red and black raspberries, espresso and nutmeg. Gellar recommends pairing it with a dish that has a sweet and smoky sauce, such as barbecue short ribs.
Buy it: KosherWine.com; Price: $18.99
3. Carmel Selected Mediterranean Blend 2019
This refreshing red wine is a blend of Shiraz, Carignan, Petite Sirah and Viognier. While complex, the fact that it's medium-bodied makes for a nice, versatile option.
4. Barkan Classic Sauvignon Blanc 2020
This crisp wine is light in color and tinged with herbal notes of passionfruit and green apples. It pairs particularly well with fish like flounder and bass.
Buy it: KosherWine.com; Price: $11.99
5. Elvi Vina Encina Red
This ruby-colored Spanish red is filled with delicious notes of blueberries, cherries and aromatic herbs. It's a versatile pick, as it goes well with any type of food.
6. Bartenura Prosecco Brut
Made in the Veneto region of Italy, this dry, fruity prosecco pairs well with hors d'oeuvres, pasta and seafood dishes.
Buy it: KosherWine.com; Price: $19.99
7. Goose Bay Pinot Noir 2019
While bursting with fruity flavors and offering a distinct pomegranate taste, this is a lighter wine that can appeal to any palate. It pairs well with cheeses and other appetizers.
Buy it: KosherWine.com; Price: $28.99
8. Herzog Selection Les Lauriers de Rothschild Montagne Saint-Emilion 2017
This dry red hails from the St. Emillion region of France, where it is aged in French oak for 12 months. Light, earthy and fruity, it goes down smooth and is very enjoyable to drink on its own.
Buy it: KosherWine.com; Price: $24.99
9. Château Les Riganes Bordeaux 2020
Hailing from the heart of the Bordeaux region, this is another medium-bodied wine with smooth tannins and berry taste that make it a delight to drink by itself.
Buy it: KosherWine.com; Price: $13.99
10. Weinstock Cellar Select Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles 2019
This is a wonderfully full-bodied wine with hints of blackberry, cranberry and tobacco in an oak bouquet. Aged in American and French barrels for about 18 months, this rich red is the perfect complement to steak and other hearty dishes.
Buy it: KosherWine.com; Price: $21.99