Kosher Wine – can it be any good? Ask the “experts”…

A few weeks ago I wrote a post for an old friend on his blog “vinoverve”. (The site itself is very informative and has some fabulous contributors. I recommend checking it out.) The post can be found here…

I touched upon some of the misconceptions regarding kosher wine there and will not get into it again here.

What I would like to discuss here are positions stated and brought to my attention by two (or I guess three) people who are well respected in the wine industry.

The first is the opinion of the well regarded Joe Dressner. Dressner is a NY based importer of French & Italian wines. In his blog, (search for kosher for the exact thread) Dressner states “My view has always been that the expression good Kosher wine is an oxymoron.” He seems to base this opinion on the following…

“… the very process of making Kosher wine excludes the possibility that it will be great wine. Only Sabbath observing Jews can make the wine, and not only does this notion smack of some sort of racism, it also eliminates so many of the world’s great winemakers. On what basis — their mother’s weren’t of Jewish origin! Additionally, to be a kosher wine, no one involved in the harvest or vinification can do anything on Friday after sundown or on Saturday during the day. What can possibly be the sense in all this arcane ritual other than religious extremism? All the great vignerons I know work like lunatics during the harvest, often around the clock, and it would be inconceivable to take off in the midst of the vendange.”

“Unfortunately, the harvest doesn’t wait and the vinification is not sabbath observant. Making good wine is horribly complicated and requires rigor in so many little details. To reduce everything to the primacy of having guys who hang about in synagogues on Saturday brings up the more basic question: why bother drinking wine in the first place? … If the religious identity of who makes the wine is more important that what’s in the bottle, it is impossible to create a culture of great wine.”

VERY strong words.

The second opinion was found today on the Mark Squires bulletin board on by contributor and well regarded wine critic Mark Squires. The full thread can be found via the link below, but simply stated, Squires wrote : “I can say Kosher certification seemed to be no impediment at all to making excellent wine“. The context of this quote was that Mark has recently tasted through “pretty much every well known winery, including the tiny boutiques and wines not imported here” and he “expect(s) to have an article on Israeli wines in the next WA”.

Robert Parker, while not commenting on kosher vs. non-kosher himself, actually chimed in briefly and stated that “Mark and I tasted some very fine wines from Israel last Friday….Castel being among the most impressive…Mark has a super article coming up”.

Israeli wines, kosher or not, are obviously of great import and significance to me. This post has gotten too long for me to comment any further, but I thought it was something which needed to be pointed out.

I obviously am eagerly awaiting the pending release of the next Wine Advocate and look forward to reading Mark’s article on Israeli wines.

I wonder if the article will get Dressner to reconsider his position….




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