A few facts about kosher wine

Jewish News recently talked with Jay Buchsbaum, vice president of marketing and director of wine education for the Royal Wine Corp./Kedem, and asked him a few questions about kosher wine. Here is an excerpt from the interview:

What makes a wine kosher? Let me tell what doesn’t make a wine kosher: It’s not blessed by a rabbi.

That’s one of the biggest myths around. What makes a wine kosher, strictly speaking, is that from the time of the crushing of the grape to the sealing of the bottle, it is handled by an observant Jewish person – man or woman. (In addition from the Kedem website, “In order for wine to be kosher it must adhere to the following: Each and every ingredient added, whether in filtration or clarification along the vinification process, must be kosher. All tools and equipment must be dedicated to kosher wine-making alone.”)

How do you think that got so misrepresented? Most other kosher things like meat, for example, are in fact, slaughtered by a rabbi according to tradition and there is a blessing made over it at the time of the slaughtering. Because wine is so much a part of Jewish rites of passage, Jewish theology and Jewish events, they figured, “Oh, the rabbis must be involved in this one, too.”

Why is it necessary to have a rabbi or an observant Jew oversee or handle wine-making from the crushing of the grape to the bottling? The rabbinic authorities are there to keep blessing out of the wine, to keep the wine spiritually neutral because during pagan times, all wines handled by pagans were actually blessed by pagans for their gods – Bacchus, Zeus and Dionysius.

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