Palm Beach wine experts: Kosher wines suddenly 'exciting to talk about'
As Passover approaches, wine experts in Palm Beach are fielding inquiries about what’s becoming quite a topic of interest these days: kosher wines.
Once associated for years with sweet wine, kosher wine now is produced by worldwide winemakers turning out chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and more.
“I’m usually asked about kosher wines every week now and it’s exciting to talk about,” said Collin Stewart, a sommelier at Virginia Philip Wine, Spirits & Academy in the Royal Poinciana Plaza.
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"There are some really good kosher wines available,” Stewart said. “The response (from customers) has been one of joy over the range that’s offered.”
It’s no coincidence The French Wine Merchant in The Paramount Center is set to host its first kosher wine tasting at 5:30 p.m. March 30 as part of its Thursday tasting events, owner Maurice Amiel said.
“The fact is there is a huge demand for kosher wine now and I can see it with my customers,” said Amiel. “Because of demand, winemakers in almost every country — from Chile to France — are making kosher wine.”
Many people enjoy kosher-certified wine during Passover, which this year is April 5 to 13.
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The highlight of the holiday is the seder, a meal filled with symbolic foods, tradition and storytelling of the Jewish exodus from Egypt.
Wine plays a key role during the seder, which calls for the consumption of four cups of wine, each representing a point in the Exodus story.
How does kosher wine differ from non-kosher wine? Certainly not in the taste, said Jay Buchsbaum, executive vice president of marketing and director of wine education at New Jersey-based Royal Wine Corp., a leading U.S. purveyor of kosher wines.
While kosher wine once was associated with sweet-tasting wine, “many kosher wines now are award-winning, beating out their non-kosher competitors for top varietal prizes, including cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and rosés as well,” Buchsbaum said.
For a wine to be made kosher, strictly supervised purity guidelines must be followed from the moment grapes enter the winery to when the wine is bottled, he noted in a press release.
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During the wine-making process, there’s rabbinical oversight and the wine is handled by Sabbath-observant Jews.
Any ingredients used, including yeasts, must be kosher.
Not all kosher wines are acceptable for Passover.
For instance, kosher wines for Passover cannot be made using yeast that has grown on bread; they also can’t use certain additives and must exclude common preservatives.
All kosher bottles of wine produced, marketed and sold commercially should bear on their labels or elsewhere a kosher certification granted by a specially-trained rabbi responsible for supervision from start to finish.
With so many kosher-wine options available, deciding which ones to serve for Passover can be challenging, but “it’s also a reason to explore and enjoy,” Stewart of the Virginia Philip wine shop said.
The Daily News asked Virginia Philip’s shop, The French Wine Merchant and Royal Wine Corp. for kosher-wine recommendations for Passover.
Virginia Philip Wine, Spirits and Academy:
· Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand, $24.99: “It’s a nice entry into spring with bright and citrusy notes,” Stewart said.
· Segal Chardonnay Special Reserve Kosher, Israel, $24.99: “It’s more full-bodied and round, with vanilla and oak (notes),” Stewart said.
· Domaine des Malandes Kosher Chablis Cuvée Amandine, France, 34.99: “Perfect if you want something crisp, lean and bright,” Stewart said.
· Barons Edmond & Benjamin Rothschild Kosher, Haut Medoc, $38.99: “This is a cabernet with backbone and structure. It’s a plush wine and the Rothschild family is well known for its wines.”
· Domaine du Castel Petit Castel, Israel, $65.99: “This is a Bordeaux blend that is full-bodied and a good higher-end choice,” Stewart said.
The French Wine Merchant:
· Château Camplay Bordeaux Superieur, France, $29.99. “This wine is very smooth, round and supple,” Amiel said.
· Château Fontainebleau Rosé de Provence, France, $30. “It’s very light and very pleasant to drink,” Amiel said.
· Château Vieux Lavergne Sant-Emilion, France, $80. “It’s mostly Merlot so it is very smooth and could even be enjoyed as an aperitif,” Amiel said.
· Domaine Condorcet Cuvee Anais Chateauneuf du Pape, France, $85. “This is a very complex wine with a long finish,” he said.
· Louis de Sacy Brut Grand Cru Champagne, France, $110. “It’s delightful to drink with food or on its own during a celebration,” Amiel said.
Royal Wine Corp.:
· Herzog Lineage Malbec, California, $19.99: “This is fruit-forward … and eminently drinkable,” Royal Wine’s expert Gabriel Geller said.
· Elvi Sangria Red and White, Spain, $9.99: “These delightful, well-made sangria are a must (for) any festive meal,” Geller said.
· Carmel Private Collection Cabernet Sauvignon, Israel, $14.99: “A popular line of value wines (that are) rich yet food friendly.”
· Edmond de Rothschild Rimapere Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand, $24.99: “This is an incredible sauvignon blanc featuring the best of the celebrated Marlborough region,” Geller said.
· Psagot Sinai White, Israel, $24.99: “A refreshing, aromatic, elegant and fruity blend, bursting with aromas and flavors of melon and pear.”
· Carmel Buzz Pineapple Moscato, Israel, $10.99: “Fun and refreshing … perfect for parties and family meals,” Geller said.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Daily News: Palm Beach wine merchant: Huge demand now for kosher wines