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Kosher is an ancient Hebrew word that is translated as "fit" or "proper," and when applied to food or drink, it signifies that a particular substance is suitable for consumption according to Jewish ritual law. In recent times, there has been an increased demand for kosher wines and a number of wine producing countries now produce a wide variety of sophisticated kosher wines under strict rabbinical supervision, particularly in Israel, the United States, France, Italy, South Africa, Canada and Australia. Two of the world's largest producers and importers of kosher wines, Kedem and Manischewitz, are both based in the United States.
Canada has three certified kosher wineries:
Rodrigues - Newfoundland
There is a misconception about Kosher wine, that it simply doesn't 'hold-up', taste wise. However, one only has to taste some of Golan Heights Winery's wines (just as an example), to know that is simply not true. Kosher wine used to mean a sweet dark-red liquid - since the mid 1980's all that has changed.
With the emergence in recent years of so many boutique wineries in Israel, not all of the wine being produced locally is kosher. Many of the boutique wineries simply are unwilling or unable, (due to their growing and production methods) to produce kosher wines. For a wine to be kosher, strict regulations must be followed. It really all begins in the fields. Grapes from new vines may not be used for making wine, until after the fourth year. Every seventh year the fields must be left fallow and there is a prohibition on growing other fruits and vegetables between the vines.
All the equipment, tools and winemaking storage facilities must be kosher. During the harvest, only Sabbath observant male Jews are allowed to work on the production of the wines. Since most of the experienced winemakers in Israel are not observant, this means that they can't touch the wine or the equipment, during the winemaking process.
During the production of kosher wine, no animal products may be used. Gelatin or egg whites are sometimes used by non-kosher wine makers, to clarify the wine, while kosher wine makers use a clay material, called bentonite, which pulls suspended particles to the bottom of the barrel.
For wine to be kosher one percent of the wine must be discarded, a symbolic remnant of the 10% tithe, paid to the Temple in Jerusalem in days gone by. Additionally, barrels must be cleaned three times.
There are really two levels of kosher wine. The first includes the restrictions outlined above, while the second, known as "mevushal" utilizes an additional process. This is important since Kashrut law stipulates that in order for a wine to retain its 'kosherness' once opened and poured by a non-Jew, (such as a waiter, for instance) the wine must be "mevushal."
Bringing the liquid to a boiling point makes this type of wine, causing air bubbles to be brought to the surface and the loss of some wine, due to evaporation. A wine that is produced in this manner retains its religious purity, regardless of who opens or pours it. A study at the University of California at Davis, has proven that it is not possible to consistently taste the difference between non- mevushal and mevushal wine. To ensure wine's purity, the codification of koshering wine began in the days of Maimonides. Today, a quick glance at the bottle's label will clearly indicate whether the wine is kosher or not. Some truly wonderful kosher wine is being produced in Israel.
Kosher wine requires that it production be done by only Sabbath observant Jewish individuals. From the time the grapes are crushed until after the fluid is made into wine, it must be boiled. This is done in order to make sure that at now time it was sanctified for a foreign deity, or religious libation of any kind.
Rabbi Mitchell R. Cohen
Rodrigues Winery in Newfoundland
In 1998, The Kashruth Council of Toronto certified Rodrigues Winery Kosher and Pareve COR530 - the only Winery in Canada to receive this designation to date. Also, in 2000, in preparation for exporting the Wines to the USA, the Winery applied for and received OU certification from the Orthodox Union of Jewish Congregations of America. In 2001 an elevated certification as Kosher for Passover or OUP was received.
Rush Creek Wines Aylmer, Ontario
All of Rush Creek wines are Quality Certified by the Fruit Wines of Canada and Kosher for Passover. Rush Creek Wines is the result of a dream that the Flintoft family had some time ago. With beautiful orchards close to the North shore of Lake Erie, in the Easter Region of Elgin County and a love of wines this family winery produces certified kosher wines
Rush Creek has won 130 National and International awards including Best Canadian Fruit Wine of the year three times and Canadian Fruit Winemaker of the Year in 2001 They make over 30 different wines from dry to dessert wines.
Domaine Pinnacle a family-owned and operated orchard and cidery located on a 430-acre property on the slopes of Pinnacle Mountain near the historic village of Frelighsburg in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada; produces a Kosher Ice Cider. Domaine Pinnacle Ice Cider and Domaine Pinnacle Sparkling Ice Cider
Domaine des Cotes d'Ardoise produces two Sacramental wines Estafette Blanc and Estafette Rouge
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