What makes a wine kosher?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

What makes a wine kosher?

—Glen, Charleston, W.Va.

Dear Glen,

Kosher dietary laws regulate how foods are prepared and served. Kosher wines follow normal winemaking procedures but must adhere to some additional procedures. The most important rules are that it must be made under the supervision of a rabbi, use rabbinically certified equipment, only contain kosher-certified ingredients, and have no added preservatives. That last point about no added preservatives sometimes confuses wine lovers into thinking “kosher” and “organic” are interchangeable terms, but they are not. There are different specifications for organic wines. Here are more details about kosher wines, and Wine Spectator School even offers a class in Kosher ABCs of Wine Tasting.

In the past decade or so, more and more kosher wines have been produced from wine regions all around the world. And they are rapidly improving in quality; today, you couldn’t pick out most kosher wines in a blind tasting because they taste like “regular” wines. There are fine bottlings of kosher Champagnes, Bordeaux and Napa Cabernets, for example. Israel is probably the source of the most kosher wines, and they are worth trying even if you don’t keep kosher.

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny

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