When people think of a fancy evening party, they might picture a fine bottle of wine, but it probably isn't kosher.
“When people used to think of kosher wine, they thought of Manischewitz,” said Arthur Rothstein, a board member at MAKOR. “Now, kosher wine is competing globally with some of the oldest wine producers in the world.”
Andrew Breskin — founder of premium kosher wine distributor LiquidKosher.com — agrees, noting that the market for fine kosher wine had “grown exponentially in the last 10 years.”
In January, MAKOR will host Breskin for “Fine Wine Night,” an evening of cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and lots of advice on selecting your next bottle.
Kosher wine tastings are regular occurrences in places such as New York or Los Angeles, but Rothstein had never heard of such an event in the Valley. So, he decided to organize one.
Rothstein knows a thing or two about kosher wine himself. He and his wife have been drinking exclusively kosher wine for the last five years. They recently adopted the custom of serving only Israeli kosher wine at their Shabbat table on Friday nights, and he toured a number of wineries on a recent trip to Israel.
Rothstein notes that while there are a number of places that stock kosher wine locally, such as BevMo!, Costco Wholesale and even some Fry’s grocery stories, they tend to be the same small selection.
“I wanted to have an opportunity for people to experience what a fine kosher wine is and can be,” Rothstein said. “Andrew [Breskin] seemed like a very good choice because he has that unique boutique niche market. And he can get great kosher wines.”
Breskin, who was a lawyer before starting Liquid Kosher, says kosher wine isn’t that different from any other wine.
“All kosher wine making is identical to non-kosher wine making, the only distinction is that since wine is a ritual object, it is handled by people who are ritually observant,” Breskin said.
“There’s no ingredients that are from animals, all the yeasts are kosher certified yeast, and for wines that come from Israel, there are some biblical agricultural laws that apply, such as a sabbatical year and certain kinds of tithing that takes place, and that is still being done today.”
Breskin sells kosher wines from all over the world, including France, California, Spain, Germany and, of course, Israel.
One new California wine he was particularly excited about is the 2017 Kos Yeshuos Viognier, put out by Four Gates Winery in Santa Cruz, California.
Breskin described it on Liquid Kosher as rich, with an oily texture and crisp acidity. He said it is a “perfect warm wine for springtime.”
For New Year’s Eve, however, Breskin suggests Champagne Bonnet Ponson - Brut Premier Cru, a bubbly French wine he described as having the flavor of green, baked apple with toasty notes reminiscent of fresh-baked bread.
Breskin said the “crown jewel” of Liquid Kosher’s portfolio is the 2011 Domaine Roses Camille. This pure French merlot was aged for 30 months in oak barrels.
Breskin is excited about the growing market and the appreciation that kosher wine is more than simply a ritual object. Now, Jewish people are coming to understand that kosher wine is to be enjoyed for fine dining, celebrations, casual meals and even collecting.
Rothstein is also excited about the increase in the number and quality of producers.
“Anybody can make wine, but not everybody can make good wine,” Rothstein said. “The fact that Israeli wines are now competing in the global market and are winning top prizes is very cool.
“It’s just an incredible example of the rebirth of our people, of our land, of our cultivation of this land in a place where we used to make wine 2,000 years ago.” JN
Fine Wine Night at MAKOR takes place on January 21 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $60 per person, or $100 for two. To order some of the wines discussed in this article, go to www.liquidkosher.com.