Kosher wines pouring out of the religious niche

Tue Apr 28, 2009 8:39am EDT
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By Marcel Michelson

PARIS (Reuters Life!) - Have you ever fretted over which wine to serve your Jewish friends without having to resort to an untested Israeli import?

Worry no more, there are more and more kosher wines available and even the well-known Mouton Cadet Bordeaux wines are available with a kosher label.

And religious Jews need not scratch their heads over the question of whether they can share their kosher wine with non-Jewish friends as flash-pasteurizing can turn a bottle of kosher red or white into Mevushal wine that can be shared with non-observant Jews. In the past, wines needed to be cooked to become Mevushal and that often did not do much for its taste.

"We clearly see a rise in the use of kosher wines by people from outside the community" said Marc Ben Chemoul, president and co-founder of the specialist Wyyne website.

He said that was partly due to better quality of wines from Israel, following government incentives for smaller-sized production, and a trend toward "bio" products as some consumers see the kosher label as a certificate for un-tampered wines.

The market in France is estimated at some 50 million euros ($65.69 million), compared to 150 million for the U.S. and 100 million in Israel.

Wine plays an important role in Jewish traditions, as it does in Catholic rites.

The ingredients normally used in making wine -- alcohol, sugar, grapes -- are permitted under the kashrut laws for kosher food and most additives as well, but not casein from dairy products or gelatin that can come from pigs.   Continued...

<p>Rabbi Yair Didi, who supervises production of kosher wines at the 'Cantina di Pitigliano' winery, samples a glass in the Tuscan town of Pitigliano March 26, 2007. Picture taken March 26, 2007. REUTERS/Daniele La Monaca</p>