My Favourite Wines


If you are the kind of person who sticks to a standard sweet Kiddush wine and was never tempted to buy anything else, please read on. Daniel Rogov, Israel's Wine Guru writes in his book "The World’s 500 Best kosher Wines" that kosher wines were only sweet and syrupy due to 2,000 years of Anti-Semitism. He explains that Israel before the Churban (the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash) was a major wine producer (as is confirmed by certain Mishnios) but the secrets to making good kosher wines were lost when the Goyim decreed that Jews were no longer allowed to own land or even be partners with a goy in having a share in a field. Consequently the Jewish community was forced to buy grapes from the local markets. These were of course eating grapes and not meant for wine making. To try and compensate for the poor quality grapes that produced bitter wine, the kosher wine maker was forced to add a lot of sugar. This is how we came to associate kosher wines with what is in fact sweet alcoholic syrup.

Now that we are back in our land after 2,000 years of exile, Israel has quickly relearned all the wine making skills they once had and even adopted a few new skills from the French and Californians. The result is that today's Israeli wines are some of the best in the world, kosher or not. Therefore, there is no reason to continue using "Kiddush wine" for Kiddush today. Don't forget that the hiddur mitzvah for Kiddush is to sanctify Shabbos over the wine that you most enjoy. You really don't know what you are missing until you have found out what that is. I'd like to tell you about two of my favourite wines that can be bought in most supermarkets here in Israel for under NIS 100.

Golan Heights Wineries Gamla Pinot Noir (pronounced Pino Newar)

Up until recently, a kosher Pinot Noir was unattainable in Israel outside the specialist wine shops. I've seen it appearing on the supermarket shelves only within the last two years. Pinot Noir is considered one of the finest grapes with which to make wine but also the most difficult by far to get right. It shows the growing maturity of Israeli wine producers that this wine is now freely available in this country. I am not a wine expert but like to try as many different wines as possible for under NIS 100.
This is by far the best of any Israeli wine that I have tasted.

Pinot Noir is supposed to have a light to medium body with an aroma reminiscent of berries. Its colour is what you might imagine a red wine mixed with a bit of mud would look like and indeed its taste is slightly earthy like freshly picked berries from a bush. If this doesn't sound like as pleasant experience, believe me it is! As you put the wine in your mouth, the taste seems lighter than a Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. Leave it to sit on the palette for a few seconds before swallowing and you will be treated to the most spectacular experience of multiple layers of flavours.

The 2006 is good but has a slightly rough aftertaste. It is still worth buying if you find bottles for around NIS 40. The 2007 however will leave you with a superb deep fruity aftertaste. For me, it is the perfect wine for Friday night Kiddush. Even those guests who say they don't like so called "dry" wines will enjoy this. Trust me. I've seen the 2007 in supermarkets with a price range from NIS 55 to NIS 70. I suggest you shop around and when you find a good price, buy as many as you can afford. It's that good!

Golan Heights Wineries Gamla Chardonnay.

For Kiddush, Shabbos morning my family likes to have a white wine and our wine of choice is always a Gamla Chardonnay. Unlike Sauvignon Blanc which has a refreshing taste of tropical fruits but can be slightly acidy, a Chardonnay should be more banana smooth and mellow in nature. The experts call it buttery flavour but I prefer the banana comparison.

It is medium to dark yellow in colour, unlike the Sauvignon Blanc which is green. Keeping the wine in your mouth for a few seconds you will experience an explosion of different layers of flavours and textures. It will leave you with a warm satisfying taste of ripe fruits. I've seen the 2006 and 2007 in the shops with prices ranging from NIS 45 to NIS 65.

Golan Heights Winery Sparkling Wine BRUT (Very Dry)

Daniel Rogov highly recommends another Golan Heights wine which he considers world class. Because the Golan Heights is not geographically within the Champaign region of France , we cannot call this Champaign so I can best describe this as a Champaign style sparkling wine in the French tradition. Prices are around NIS 65 to NIS 80.
I have bought a bottle and will open it for my son's Bar Mitzvah. I'll let you know what I think, beli neder.


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