So our monthly learning and tasting experience in the wine blogosphere, Wine Blogging Wednesday, occurs during Passover this year. Our host, the Corkdork, suggested that we put aside the Manischewitz bias and find ourselves some good Kosher wine.
I didn't have to go too far this time, as the kind folks at Yarden Wines had recently sent me a few samples. Last night we decided to pop open the Galil Mountain Barbera 2006, from Galilee in Israel.
Before I get to the wine review, however, let me explain a little about what makes a wine kosher. According to the Convenant winery web site, wine is considered a holy beverage in Jewish tradition.
Now, if the wine is to be designated mevushal, it gets a bit more complicated. In Hebrew, mevushel is defined as "boiled." Back to the folks at Covenant for the details:
But that is not
why certain wines are made mevushal. For Jews, the technique simply
alters the spiritual essence of a kosher wine, making it less
susceptible to ritual proscription. That means anyone—whether kosher or
not—can open a bottle of mevushal wine without altering its kosher
So that's a benefit, right? That means that I could pour wine for my observant Jewish relatives without removing the kosher status of the wine. If it's not mevushal, the minute I open the wine (as a non-Jew), it is no longer kosher. The same applies, interestingly, if a non-Sabbath-observant Jew opens the wine – it's not kosher any more.
Between the need for special ingredients, an extra process for creating a mevushal wine, and the need to observe Jewish holidays and the Sabbath, well, making Kosher wine seems exceedingly difficult. No wonder it's hard to find!
So, on to the wine we chose last night: the Galil Mountain Barbera from Galilee. The back label is marked with an approved Kosher symbol, followed by a P for Pareve. (Pareve means that the product is neither dairy nor meat.) As far as I can tell, this was strictly a Kosher wine until we opened it, and it was not mevushal.
This is our first Israeli wine, and in many ways, it reminded me of an Ohio wine. Although vintage 2006, it's tasting young. It didn't have quite the full aroma I expected from a barbera, but it did show some cherries and earth on the nose.
This was a dynamic wine in that it went through several changes between when we started to drink the wine and when we finished. When we first poured it, I was unimpressed with a tart, almost sour cherry taste. That changed over the next hour or so and the wine softened a bit. Barbera isn't known for its tannins, and this is a gentle wine. We thought that it was a simple wine – not overly complex in structure – but enjoyable all the same. And for 15% Alcohol, well, it was pretty well balanced.
There was just enough earthiness in the wine that, coupled with the location (Galilee), I sort of felt like I was drinking a bit of history. That said, we would have probably enjoyed the wine more if we had paired it with a big bowl of pasta.
We also have a white Yarden wine chilling, so I look forward to trying it soon. And cheers to The Corkdork for coming up with such a fun and out-of-the-box tasting!
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