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Not Your Mother

Until very recently the options available for kosher wine drinkers were both limited and frequently unpalatable.  Jews worldwide drank the same Carmel or Baron Herzog sacramental Kiddush wine on Friday nights.  Over time, this style of wine became erroneously identified by Jew and non-Jew alike as “Kosher wine”. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have had friends in the wine industry say to me, “doesn’t kosher wine just mean it is sugary, port like, and thick?”  It is no wonder that many Jews turned to scotch and whisky as their alcoholic beverage of choice.  As a result of this misnomer, the Jewish community today is less familiar overall with wine than almost any other alcoholic beverage.

Of late, however, this trend has begun to reverse itself. Jews in the United States and Israel are finally beginning to catch up with the rest of the wine drinking world. Little more than a decade ago Israeli wine consumption was still stagnating at around 4 liters annually per capita. Recent statistics show that Israeli wine consumption has almost doubled in that short period of time to reach more than 7 liters per capita! Similarly, in the United States, kosher wine consumption has risen dramatically in the past few years with some estimating as high as a 20% increase (Lubinsky, Menachem and Idele Ross. “Kosher Wine the Big Story this Passover.” Kosher Today 4 April. 2006). According to most statistical findings, this increase in kosher wine consumption is expected to continue into the foreseeable future.

It is not by chance that both Israeli and non-Israeli Jews suddenly decided to give wine a chance.  Rather, these remarkable statistics are the direct result of the maturation of the Israeli wine industry. As high quality, affordable kosher wines from Israeli wineries made their way en masse to liquor store shelves the kosher wine section slowly transformed into a more enticing space. No longer do kosher wine drinkers have to settle solely for a Concord crush. There is now kosher wine made from almost every grape imaginable, Barbera, Viognier, Nebbiolo, Aligote, Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc, and Tempranillo along with your basic Cabernet Sauvignons, Chardonnays, and Merlots. For the more serious wine collector, many high-end, cellar worthy wines are available not only from Israel and California, but also from France, Italy, and Spain.

As the kosher wine industry diversifies and expands, getting the most out of all it has to offer requires more information and support.  As the foremost educators in kosher wine, The Kosher Wine Society is proud to serve as the preeminent guide to this burgeoning industry.  In line with this role, we have recently begun to catalog the growing number of kosher vintages, along with other noteworthy development in the kosher wine world into a comprehensive collection of articles and tasting reviews. We are pleased and excited to offer this well of information online in our “Wine Education Section”. We hope it will serve as a great reference source and go a long way in answering all your wine related questions.