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Six kosher wines to spruce up your holiday meals

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Wine tasting in Tel Aviv. (David Silverman/Getty Images)
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Purple Haze

Taking a plunge into kosher wines

Kosher wine has come a long way, baby. I don’t mean that it has moved beyond Manischewitz to Merlot—that’s yesterday’s news. I’m talking about the kosher-wine market’s glorious expansion beyond the usual suspects—overly oaky Chardonnay and mediocre Merlot—to less-obvious wines of distinction and deliciousness from all over the world. I call such wines “Brave New Pours,” and below I recommend kosher versions that will have you drinking stylishly for the high holidays.

Bartenura Prosecco Brut NV (Italy, $18)
You will start your Rosh Hashanah feast on a high note if you opt for Prosecco, which delivers bubbles and fun at half the price of Champagne. It may be not be as elegant as its French cousin, but this zesty Prosecco makes a fine aperitif or cuts through the richness of any tsimmes it encounters.

Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (New Zealand, $17)
I like to say New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc’s grassy, citrusy personality is so distinctive that it’s almost flourescent. Goose Bay’s refreshingly crisp rendition is no exception, and it harmonizes well with fish, including a forkful of gefilte with horseradish.

Daltôn Galilee Chardonnay Unoaked 2009 (Israel, $17)
Have you ever tried Chardonnay freed from its oaky, vanilla-shake shackles? Insiders have been enjoying this style for years, and Daltôn’s crisp and subtly peachy version makes their lips smack with satisfaction. Savor it with everything from seafood to salads to matzo ball soup.

Recanati Galilee Rosé (Israel, $15)

Summer may be waning, but your passion for pink needn’t. Clean and zesty, this dry, cherry-scented wine pivots between the world of white- and red-wine foods, equally at home with fish dishes as it is with more substantial fare like barbecue, lamb, or kasha varnishkes.

Tabor Merlot “Adama” Chalk Soil 2006 (Israel, $21
The famous rant in Sideways notwithstanding, this selection proves that Merlot doesn’t have to be a wine for the wounded. Its soft, generous blackberry character and hints of coffee bean and sweet spice flatter a range of rich meals, from stuffed cabbage to stews.

Bodega Flecha de los Andes Gran Malbec 2008 (Argentina, $20)
It seems like everyone I interviewed for my new book—including John Lithgow and John Leguizamo—waxed rhapsodic for the pleasures of Malbec, and this version makes it easy to see why. Lush and ripe, it offers plenty of blackberry and blueberry fruit, joined by whiffs of coca powder and licorice, with a smooth, enduring finish. It is perfect with brisket and other richer, meaty creations.

If you have a kosher wine question you want me to answer, maybe you need a suggestion of a particular wine to pair with specific dishes, post a comment below and I’ll see what I can do to help you out

Mark Oldman is a wine expert whose new book is Oldman’s Brave New World of Wine.

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Richard Braun says:

Thanks for this – where can they be purchased in Los Angeles?

We recently visited the Golan Winery in northern Israel. They make a number of testy wines, including some excellent whites. Any thoughts or recommendations?

Alan Jay Weisbard says:

Nothing from California Wine Country?
We are currently visiting Napa. Any kosher wineries of note worth a visit?

Mordechai says:

Many kosher wines are available at (wine, singular) and often at a better price than in the stores. Best is to buy six bottles of each at a time for best shipping and handling fees.
Mordechai HaYehudi

Lynn Gottlieb says:

For Alan Jay Weisbard:

I recommend going to Hagafen Cellars on Silverado Trail. It is not only kosher, but is an award-willing winery. Try the Riesling; it’s to die for. And if you stop by, please say hello to Ernie Weir, their winemaker, from me (Lynn Gottlieb). I am jealous–I can’t get their wines (or any of the ones in this article) in Washington. It’s our archaic distribution laws…

Hagafen Cellars (
4160 Silverado Trail
Napa, CA
707 252 0781

Ginna Green says:

Alan — The fantastic, boutique winery Covenant Wines is in St. Helena. They make a fabulous high-end Cabernet (Covenant), another excellent Cab (Red C) and recently bottled their first Chardonnay (Lavan).

Call Jodie at (707) 963-3887 and tell her that Ginna (pronounced Gina) from Beth Jacob in Oakland sent you!


Mark Oldman says:

@Richard: I like to use the free service to track down wines in my area. I did a quick search there on “Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc” and it showed that Wally’s in Los Angeles has the ’08. For a fee, Wine Searcher has a pro version (which I use) that yields more listings. Btw, LA’s friendly and fantastic Lou’s Wine Bar, if you don’t know it, is one of the best places to drink bravely.

@Big J: If you mean Golan Heights Winery, I’m a fan. Its Chardonnay Galilee Yarden Odem is reliably delicious if you like richer, more tropical-style Chard. If you can find it, the Gewürztraminer does justice to this spicy grape, usually with a tinge of sweetness and plenty of lychee fruit. The Merlot and Cab are also often excellent.

@Alan: Ginna and Lynn have it right – Covenant and Hafagen are the two options. The Covenant Cab is deeply good, albeit expensive. Hafagen’s Brut Cuvée Sparkling Wine is quite respectable, as is its Syrah. Enjoy Napa – to picnic there under its azure skies and gentle breezes is to taste the paradisiacal.

Joan Zia Kahn says:

And what about the quality Yatir wines? A must-have for wine connoisseurs! Don’t miss a visit to the Yatir winery in the Negev on the way to Arad!

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Six kosher wines to spruce up your holiday meals

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