Oenologie - Qu’est-ce que le vin casher ? - Les Grappes

What is kosher wine?

For the Jewish community, wine is not an everyday drink, it is reserved for religious ceremonies. As a result, it has long been associated with worship and confined to the religious sphere. However, nothing prohibits the consumption of wine in the texts, the Torah does not exhort abstinence on this subject. Thus for about ten years now, kosher versions of great French wines have appeared. Kosher wine is therefore offered to consumers: it is different from other types of wine only because it is subject to certain manufacturing rules. We will therefore try here to focus on these casher wines, their winemaking techniques and their taste.

The consumption of wine by the Jewish community

As we have seen, wine has been considered in history as a sacred beverage, consumed only during religious ceremonies. However, nothing prohibits its consumption outside the sacred context. It is essentially a sweet white wine, made from raisins. However, there was a change in these consumption practices at the end of the 20th century. Indeed, Roberto Cohen allows from 1996 the appearance of wines from the Golan Heights (a region of Israel) in France. This merchant then became the first importer of Israeli wines in France. The imported kosher wine thus became accessible to consumers: the qualitative data aroused interest in these wines.

Kosher wine is used for sanctification on the Sabbath and feast days. It is therefore an important product in the cult, and is therefore in great demand. They are therefore consumed both for prayer and for pleasure. The production of kosher wine then becomes a real challenge for producers, it is a new clientele to be filled.

What is kosher wine?

The peculiarity of kosher wine is that it has only been handled by practising Jews. Moreover, all stages of the winemaking process took place under the supervision of sworn rabbinical delegates: these are the chomers who were sworn in by the consistories of major cities and who represent the cult. Thus the producer works in collaboration and under the control of a rabbinic delegate who has been mandated by the Consistoire de Paris.

Next, what distinguishes a kosher bottle from another bottle is its marking. The bottles are marked with a "sur" indicating their kosher character.

Each kosher bottle must bear the four kosher signs: this indicates that the product follows the food code prescribed by the Hebrew Bible. Also the product must bear the logo of the Beth Din (the council of rabbis) and the words "Kosher Pesach" which ensures that the product is recognized as kosher. Also, the "KBDP" logo can be present on the cap, label, collar and capsule: it guarantees a product manufactured in limited series, especially under rabbinical supervision. It is issued by the Consistory of Paris. The cork stopper is stamped with the word "kosher" in Hebrew letters.

Beyond that, the harvesting and vinification methods are almost the same as for a traditional wine.

The elaboration of kosher wine

In order to produce kosher wine, it is necessary to receive authorization from a Beth Din and to meet two conditions: -membership in the Jewish community or, failing that, to have a representative of the cult on site during the winemaking operations. - have a specific facility, to the standards required by the Jewish community.

Grapes with the fruit being is considered kosher, so any farm worker, regardless of his denomination, can go in and pick the grapes in the vineyards. But once the grapes pass over the sorting table, only the unemployed are allowed to touch them.

The equipment that will be used during the winemaking process must be "casherised": all the containers that will be used during the winemaking process must be run through hot water. For example, the stainless steel vats are passed through karsher. For cement vats and oak barrels, the operation consists in filling them with cold water three times in 24 hours: no impure elements must remain in them. It is the Shorims that control the hiding of the material, they also intervene during the purification of the storage tanks. The Shorims, by their presence, guarantee the kosher character of the wine. They play a decisive role here since no handling of must take place in their absence, nor outside the authorized periods.

One must take into account the religious calendar, which to a certain extent punctuates the life of the wine: the producers must take into account the non-working days, the feast days... which often fall during the grape harvest, but also the Shabbat which forbids any intervention.

These conditions of elaboration are rather constraining and consequently give rise to a higher production cost, and a higher cost price as well.

The taste of wine

Casher wines have more or less the same taste as a non-kosher wine, as the principle of elaboration is not very far away. One difference that may appear is in the blending and maturing process. Indeed for Bordeaux wines, the tendency is to use a little more Merlot: its fruitiness and roundness have won over consumers. Also, for casher wines, there is a tendency to reduce the ageing time in new barrels in order to give wines that are ready to drink more quickly.

The peculiarity of the mention " Mévushal "

Unlike other casher wines, the Mévushal wine does not become taref (it does not lose its kosher character) if it is shared with non-practicing guests. So that lay people and non-practicing Jews can serve the wine, the wine is quickly pasteurized. It is then heated by flash pasteurization: brought very quickly to 90°C then very quickly to 0°C before being bottled.This practice is not systematic, but can be useful for Shabbat and ceremonies. It is not mandatory to include the word "Mushal" on the label.

Marie Lecrosnier-Wittkowsky for Les Grappes

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