05 July 2009

Spain: Kosher wine

Catavino.net offers information on food, wine, events and culture, and there's a new posting on kosher wine in Spain and some technicalities associated with the wine-making process.

The article is here.

In the past 4+ years living in Spain, I’ve seen my fair share of Spanish and Portuguese wineries. From old, rancid smelling and spiderweb infested bodegas making drop dead gorgeous wines to sleek and modern wineries who couldn’t make a decent bottle of wine if their life depended on it, my experiences have been vast and memorable.

But never in my life have I ever experienced a time when I walked into a winery making Kosher wine and was told, in a manner of speaking, “I’m sorry, but you can’t actually see the wine, both because you are impure as a non Sabbath-observant Jew and because you’re a woman.”
Last week, while visiting the Capçanes winery in Montsant, Gabriella Opaz visited the very first winery in Spain to produce a kosher wine in the 20th century.

Capçanes dates to the 19th century and was a phylloxera victim, not recovering until 1933 when five families created the cooperative. In 1995, a Jewish family from Barcelona requested that they make the first Kosher wine in Spain that times truly changed for Capçanes.

This meant that new equipment needed to be installed and other steps taken to ensure the kashrut of the wine, called Peraj Ha’abib (Flor de Primavera or Spring Flower).

The posting includes information on what makes wine kosher and what requirements must be followed. There are seven requirements:

1- The grapes of new vines cannot be used for winemaking until the fourth year of planting.

2- No fruits or vegetables may be grown between the vine rows.

3- After the first harvest, vineyard must lie fallow every seventh year.

4- From the onset of harvest, kosher tools and storage facilities may be used in the process. All winemaking equipment must be scrupulously cleaned.

5- When grapes reach the winery, only Sabbath-observant male Jews may come in contact with the wine. Jewish women may harvest the grapes but only male Sabbath-observant Jews may look at, touch or approach the wine after it has entered the winery.

6- All materials (such as yeast) for production and clarification must be kosher.

7- A symbolic amount of wine (tithe, truma vama’aser) once given to the Temple must be poured away from the wine tanks or barrels.

Today, kosher wines are made in DO Penedés (cava), Rioja, Priorat, Yecla, Montsant, Tarragona and Ribera del Duero. The posting indicates more information is available at the Kosher Wine Society, or tasting notes on Spanish kosher wines at Verema and El Gran Catador.

The 2006 Peraj Ha’abib is made with 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Garnatxa Negra and 30% Samsó and aged for 12 months in new and one-year-old kosher French oak barrels.

There are tasting notes for the wine.

The food section of the site offers such articles as eating vegetarian in Portugal, cooking with cod, and many other articles. Yummy!

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