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Nov 15, 2010 06:16 AM

Mevushal wine - Which are the best?

Which are the best mevushal wines?

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    1. re: maga

      REd and white. Possibly more than one of each. I find myself in the position of having to entertain non-Jewish guests and want top wines. Since I will have to host such dinners more than once in the next few months, the more suggestions the better.

      1. re: AdinaA

        If you're hosting non-Jewish guests, and you will be opening the bottles, why do you need mevushal?

        1. re: DeisCane

          Perhaps she would like to be able to pour herself a glass after someone else handles the open bottles.

          1. re: GilaB

            Is that the rule? I thought it was just opening. OK, makes sense!

            1. re: DeisCane

              btw it may apply to non-observant Jews touching non-mevushal wine too

              1. re: DeisCane

                If it makes sense then something's wrong. :)

                1. re: ferret

                  Ha! Good point. I meant my mistake made sense. ;-)

      2. What a broad question. There is no one answer- what's best for one person may be out of the question for another. There are quality dry wines, and quality sweet ones. There are dry reds and dry whites. There are quality mevushal wines to accomodate any taste. In general, if you are looking for sweet, or upper echelon reds, it would be less likely you'll find them from France- they make some excellent wines, but most of those are not mevushal, though I believe there is a late harvested Loire Chenin from Bonnezeaux which Royal brings in which is mevushal and typically is very good. I think you're probably looking to Israel or California for most of your better mevushal wines- Hagafen and Herzog from California, Carmel (among others ) from Israel.

        3 Replies
        1. re: ganeden

          I'm looking for dry. Perhaps a Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. I like to buy Israeli because I like to support Israel. But I would buy California. Many of the more upscale wines are not mevushal. I don't mind paying $20 -$40 a bottle.

          I will be serving this at dinner parties. i am having 35 guests for Thanksgiving dinner, including non-Jews. And will serve both turkey and beef. The menus for my dinner parties vary. Which is one reason why I asked the question broadly.

          The other reason is that while I know food, I really don't know wine. But often have guest who do. So I want to serve wine that will please sophisticated palates.

          1. re: AdinaA

            Tastes are so personal, but I really do like the Herzog Cab Sav.

            1. re: AdinaA

              If the Barkan is the classic version, you should know it is their entry level wine, and you can get better for a little more. If you are in NY/NJ you may want to try calling Skyview Wines in Riverdale which has a great selection and knowledgeable staff. You could also try or which will let you search by mevushal or non mevushal. You can get the wine withing 2/3 days of ordering if you are in the NY area.
              Some Israeli recommendations:
              Binyamina Cabernet Special Reserve - nice
              Segals Cabernet Special Reserve - nice
              Binyamina Shiraz or Zinfandel Reserves - not had either, but should be good.
              Dalton may have others that are Mevushal, but the Safsufa is nice.
              Kinneret Cabernet is an easy drinking cab.
              Teperberg has a couple of Mevushal wines, but I have not tried either.

          2. Any opinions on the
            Dalton Safsufa Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
            Barkan 2007 Sauvignon Blanc
            Barkan 2007 Merlot

            1 Reply
            1. re: AdinaA

              I have always been a fan of anything from the Dalton label. I loved the Dalton Caanan red which was a great blend. I would go with anything dalton.

            2. I recently had the Goose Bay Pinot Noir, and really enjoyed it. I believe it's mevushal.

              I would also go into some wine stores that carry good kosher brands and ask them. Many wine stores are great with help and recommendations, and some even open kosher bottles during their tastings.

              1. If you like Italian wine, try the Gabriele line, which is both excellent and mevushal.

                14 Replies
                1. re: zsero

                  As far as I'm concerned whatever ganeden recommends he's your go-to person. I miss his wines!

                  1. re: robocop

                    That's very sweet of you, Robocop. After closing my BBQ joint, I'm again involved with a winery as the winemaker (but not owner), converting a California nonkosher brand to kosher. At this point in time, we don't anticipate mevushal, and most likely the first kosher wines will be out in a couple of years. Interestingly, the Weiss boys (also budding winemakers, after being mashgichim at Herzog) are also on board as my assistants (and mashgichim), and we're making their wine at the winery too (also not mevushal). I would like to make a line of mevushal wine, but it won't happen anytime soon. Perhaps after the winery is entirely kosher, I'll be able to convince the boss.

                    1. re: ganeden

                      How come the wines won't be mevushal? Is there a significant difficulty with making mevushal versus non-mevushal? I'm not asking in the marketing perspective, but from the wine-maker perspective.

                      1. re: craigcep

                        Owner wants to sell the same brand in both the nonkosher and kosher markets (it is a somewhat established nonkosher brand, albeit selling largely from the tasting room/mail order). He's afraid of the possibility of decreased quality with bishul, and the effect it will have on the nonkosher sales. And as you are asking about the winemaking, there's a significant investment in equipment to do it properly.

                      2. re: ganeden

                        You never were a fan of mevushal :-) Who's hashgacha?

                        1. re: robocop

                          Robo, You're correct. I was never a fan of mevushal, and still am not, but I'll be in the front ranks of those who would say that it can be done right, minimizing changes to the initial cuvee. There are plenty of instances of quality mevushal wines, and both Hagafen and Herzog do it properly, along with an increasing number of Israeli producers. In fact, I would say the general quality of mevushal wines even at the lower price points has improved considerably, at least an order of magnitude (possibly more) over the past. As to the hechsher of the winery I work for, OU.

                          1. re: ganeden

                            How long until the first (kosher) bottles will be available?

                            1. re: vallevin

                              Vallevin, as I said above, we're pretty much looking at 2 years. Going kosher was a spur-of-the-moment decision on the part of the owner. We weren't able to get any tanks kashered until most of the wine (including the only white, Chardonnay) was already in tank. Thus, the first wines are dry reds (with the exception of a very small amount of rose). Dry reds pretty well take a couple of years before release (with the exception of Beaujolais-style reds, which we don't make- all of the reds are oak-aged). the product mix has thus far been determined by what is grown on-site. Perhaps next year we could purchase some early-drinking white grapes, but it's really too late this year.

                            2. re: ganeden

                              GE, is it true that you can mevushal the juice first, before you start the process of making wine? Do you think that could improve the quality of the finished product?

                              1. re: KosherChef

                                Kosherchef, that is precisely what is done in the highest quality mevushal white wines. The problem with doing it for reds is that they contain solids (seeds, skins, bits of stem) that require a different kind of heat exchanger at far greater expense, and much greater requirements in terms of heat-per-unit-time (thus a much larger boiler system). The rule-of-thumb is that the earlier in the process that one thermally processes the wine,the less will be the final impact, assuming of course that the application of heat is performed with care. Because of the reducing power of the yeast during fermentation, any oxidation of the juice during bishul is reversed. With reds, however, since they typically must be thermally processed after pressing (removal of the solids), it should be done in an even more careful manner as soon as the solids are removed (which in this case would probably be after the first racking, when most of the spent yeast is removed as well).

                          2. re: ganeden


                            It is great to hear you're making wine again. I look forward to enjoying them. Two weeks ago I had a bottle of your 1989 Cabernet Sauvignon. The cork gave me only a bit of trouble but the wine was excellent. The tanins are almost imperceptible but there is still a strong sense of fruit. There is absolutely no other kosher winemaker I know of whose wines last as long and as well.

                            1. re: hill

                              A couple of Shabboses ago, I had the Weiss boys stay over. They own Shirah Wines, producing mainly Rhone-style approximations in minute quantities, and also happen to be my assistants. In any case, we pulled out some old wines. My bottle of 1989 Cab was certainly drinkable, but also nothing special. The bottle of 1988 was far better, a special bottle. The '86 and '90 were interesting but way over the hill, and we couldn't find an '87. I have no good way to store them- just in the garage-hot in summer, cold in winter- and the older stuff (of which I only have nominal amounts) are hit or miss. When I had them in the winery cellar (up to 5 years ago), they were uniformly good, though still with a great deal of bottle to bottle variation. So thanks for your vote of confidence, but I wish I were having the same luck as you. I will say, and I have been trying to drum it into Gabe and Shimon Weiss, that it is the acid balance more than the tannin which determines ageability. Most kosher wines, like many wines in the general market, are balanced for immediate drinking. Such wines will rarely age well. If one likes very ripe fruit, one needs to add a lot of acid to overcome the precipitous rise in pH and drop in acidity that come from overripening, even in a cool climate.

                              1. re: ganeden

                                Yes and the style is super ripe which can be overdone. If you come to Brooklyn and stop by we can do an 86 - 89 vertical tasting to see how the wines have held up. I can demonstrate how favorably your wines have aged compared to Hagafens'. My storage is good but not optimal.


                                1. re: hill

                                  While I rarely get to Brooklyn these days, it could happen, and iff it does, I look forward to the tasting. Thanks for inviting me. My web site is still up, though I have nothing to sell anymore. email: I should say that all of my '97 Cab is in the house, but the older wines were judged to be marginal, and stuck in the garage due to space considerations.