We open this, our sixth annual Kosher Wine Guide, with an intriguing question, one that mirrors the age-old, Is it Good for the Jews? Is the “kosher” label good for vintners, or is it, as one of them tells us, “a golden handcuff?” Can segregation on the shelf actually be a boon? Or, as the quality of kosher wine improves, is it demeaning to be stuck on the kosher shelf, like a sophisticated teenager who finds herself at the kid’s table for the Passover seder?
It’s a hard question to answer, in the end, and Joshua London surveys the field for opinion. But that the question is even being asked suggests that kosher wines have indeed come a long way from the Manischewitz days.
The rest of the issue is a kind of travelogue as we roam around the globe to tell stories from a growing kosher wine industry. Our “Fruit of the Vine” kosher wine columnist, Gamliel Kronemer, makes a stop in the picturesque Spanish hill town of Capçanes to tour Celler Capçanes; the village’s winery is the first to regularly produce kosher wine in Spain in over a century. He also catches up with London-based culinary anthropologist and food writer Claudia Ronen as she reminisces about her early years in Cairo and how they inspired her wide-ranging cookbooks. And he reports on how French kosher winemakers are trying to claw back some market share from Israeli vintners.
This 40-page section also includes our annual Top 18 Lists, a juried roundup of the best kosher wines in a variety of categories. This year we’ve added two new categories: Top Sweet Wines and Top Wines. Some of the top wines will likely be part of our Grand Wine Tasting March 16 at City Winery.
The last word goes to Israeli winemaker Lewis Pasco: “Sure, our wines get typecast — but there’s now an awful lot of good stuff there.”
To which we can only add, Amen and L’Chaim.