Archive for November, 2010

Flash Pasteurization is NOT harmful (when done right)

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

Kosher wine has a ton of stigmas attached to it.  It is all sweet, thick, flabby.  It is only made from the Concord grape.  And of course, it is BOILED.

It a very brief nutshell, NO, not all kosher wine is BOILED – actually I don’t think ANY kosher wine is boiled.

So where does this mis-information come from?  It comes from the fact that SOME kosher wines are further classified as “mevushal” – FLASH PASTEURIZED.

Flash pasteurization is a process used by NON-KOSHER wines too, including Louis Latour (“The wine is passed through a heat exchanger that raises the temperature to 72°C for 2-3 seconds”) & Beaucastel (“The skins of the grapes are heated briefly to 80 °C / 176 °F and then cooled to 20 °C /6O °F”) to name two.  This pasteurization is sometimes done to bring out aromatics, and other times to remove potentially harmful bacteria & “stabilize” a wine much like fining or filtering does.

Kosher wine that has gone through flash pasteurization does so to enable all people (regardless of religion & level of observance) to handle a wine.  (According to Orthodox Jews non-“mevushal” kosher wine may only be handled by Jews to maintain its classification as “kosher”.)

I want to break another stigma.

“MEVUSHAL” (flash pasteurized) wines DO NOT AGE.


I had the good fortune of drinking a 1996 Herzog Reserve Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon wine the other day thanks to a new wine friend.

This wine was gorgeous!  At a very mature 14 years old, this mevushal wine was soft & velvety with fresh fruit & berries.  An elegant wine that has aged quite gracefully and had a long luxurious finish.

What can I say…don’t believe everything you hear or read (just because you read it on the internet… ;)…).

Yes, some mevushal wines that go through flash pasteurization prematurely age due to poor pasteurization methods.  But when done right, this process seems to have no negative effects on the wine.  On the contrary, maybe it does in fact rid wine of bad bacteria and make it MORE age worthy…???…I know the mevushal Cab from California’s Herzog Winery sure aged well!!

Happy Mevushal wine tasting!


Wine of Israel “Mediterranean Inspiration” 2010

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Following the success of the first Wines of Israel tasting, the Israeli Economic Mission with the help of the Dunn Robbins group put on the 2nd Wines of Israel event today in NYC (following a similar event in Houston this past Monday).

Though I was able to sneak around and taste the wines of some other Israeli wineries I spent a majority of my time at the Carmel table, proudly pouring wine.

As a Carmel (and Yatir) employee I don’t think it too appropriate to get into too many details about specific wines, but I would like to share a few general thoughts.

The number of wineries represented at the event was down from 20 last time to 15.  I believe this is in large part due to the significant investment required to participate (cost of wines, airline tickets, hotels,  “table” cost, etc.).  Given the exposure I think it is worth every penny, but it is still a significant expense that is probably not fiscally possible for many of the smaller wineries.  (I do believe all the large “commercial” wineries were there.)

There was a four person panel and once again I was a bit disappointed by the overall tone which seemed a bit negative.  Sure Israeli wines have had a challenging time overcoming the stigma of “kosher wines”, but I think Israeli wines have across the board made tremendous strides and most industry people recognize this   As a whole the industry would be better served by focusing on the positive developments rather than the challenges it still faces (which I think is a topic more appropriate for internal discussion).

Overall however this was really a tremendous event.  Well attended by members of the press & trade, people I spoke with were WOW-ed by the wines they tried.  Of the wines I tasted at other tables I felt almost all were very well-made wines that we can all be quite proud of.  Sure there was an overly oaky Chardonnay, an overripe Cabernet and lots of wines with alcohol levels exceeding 14% abv, but there were few (if any) wines I’d be embarrassed to serve in my home.

I now, more than ever, firmly believe that there IS a place in the mainstream wine world for Israeli wines.  I hope today’s event helped many of the attendees to share that sentiment.

Happy Israeli Wine Tasting!