Kosher, or Kashrut, is a set of dietary rules in the Jewish religion. Certain foods can be eaten according to halakha, translating to "fit." Kosher foods have guidelines around how food is sold, cooked, or eaten and surround three categories: meat, dairy, and pareve. Pareve is the Yiddish term referring to foods without meat or dairy. This includes fruits, vegetables, pasta, grains, nuts, beans, and more.
During Passover, Jewish kosher laws are put into full effect. Also known as Pesach, Passover is a major biblically derived Jewish holiday. Jews celebrate the holiday as a commemoration of their liberation by God from being enslaved in ancient Egypt, along with their freedom as a nation under the leader Moses. Being kosher for Passover means avoiding anything hametz, or leavened. This includes grains like wheat, rye, barley, oats, and spelt.
Kosher Wine and Kosher for Passover Wine
Along with Passover's many rules for food comes its guidelines for alcohol. Archeological evidence shows that wine was used in Judaism throughout ancient Israel for traditional and religious purposes. In the U.S., kosher wine eventually became associated with sweet Concord wines made from wineries with Jewish immigrant founders.
Kosher wine is a grape wine that is produced according to Judaism's religious and dietary laws. In order for a wine to be kosher, it must be created under a rabbi's immediate supervision, with only Sabbath-observant Jewish males touching the grapes from the crushing phase through the bottling.
While all wines require some sort of mold (yeast) for fermentation, kosher for Passover wine must be made from a mold that has not been grown on bread (such as sugar or fruit) and must exclude several common preservatives, like potassium sorbate. A wine that is kosher for Passover cannot include chametz, which includes grain, bread, and dough. The most kosher wine that is marketed and sold commercially has a seal of approval called hechsher. This typically comes from a kosher certification agency.
Where to Get Kosher Wine
Kosher wines have become increasingly popular, with production rising in Israel, France, Germany, the United States, and more. All Israeli wines are kosher for Passover and most (but not all) kosher wines are kosher for Passover. To be sure, remember to check the label. Some of the world's biggest kosher wine producers and importers include Kedem and Manischewitz.
Also known as the Royal Wine Company, Kedem was started by the Pluczenik brothers in the 1940s and has been run by the Herzog family since 1958. Based in Bayonne, New Jersey, Kedem's kosher wine and grape juice is sold in 16 countries around the world and has won many wine competitions. Manischewitz, another well-known brand, is best known for their matzo and kosher wine, founded in 1888. This brand is known as the world's largest matzo manufacturer. Matzo is an unleavened flatbread that can be made into several flavors, crackers, meal, and noodles. The Manischewitz wine is best known for its budget concord wine made from labrusca grapes and accompanied by a unique aroma and residual sugar.