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Pesach and Kosher Wine

Tonight was passover, and we pulled off a fairly successful seder, though trying to get Jews to drink wine can be quite an effort — personally I think it’s because Jews haven’t had a great track record on producing good quality wine, until perhaps recently, and even that is touch and go. I have heard (and have confirmed through some sources) that according to strictest kosher law, yeast does not exist and is not responsible for the creation of wine. What this means is they are not allowed to add yeast to grape juice to create wine, and have to depend on the natural yeasts on the grape skins, or what might be floating in the air at the time, and just… hope for the best. As a beer brewer, I know this is an absolute recipe for disaster. The only saving grace is that Kosher law also requires all containers to be sterilized three times before using it for brewing, and a special type of koshering requires the must to be brought to a rolling boil before brewing, so most pathogens are going to be destroyed in the process. Some wineries have gotten around the ‘boil and pray’ method of wine making by adding in a bit of last year’s wine, but even this is not a guaranteed process. And, any yeasts grown or cultivated from grain are just out. So, a brewing tradition that ignores modern scientific process in favor of religious dogma is in danger of producing mediocre results. That being said, of the 4 wines we tried, Baron Herzog turned out to be pretty good. The others… while they didn’t suck, they weren’t what I would consider great wine.

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