No offense to Mrs. Manischewitz, but one reaches a point in one’s culinary life (say, around age 18?) where the sweet stuff is more cloying than enjoyable. Despite the misconception that kosher wines score about as high on the quality scale as two-buck chuck, there are, in fact, many that are so good they’re worth seeking out even if you don’t keep kosher. Here are a few that top our list:
Jeff Morgan — winemaker, author, journalist, and wine director of Dean & DeLuca fame — creates Covenant Wines from a small, three-acre parcel in Napa. With the help of Leslie Rudd, also of D&D fame, the first vintage, 2003, is truly remarkable. The 2003 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($80) was given a whopping 93-point nod from Robert Parker. Aged 14 months in French oak, it has definite cellar potential. On the more affordable end of the spectrum is the “Red Sea” Napa Cab ($36). Both available from Wade’s Wines, 30961 W. Agoura Rd. #321, Westlake Village, wadeswines.com; or from the winery, covenantwines.com.
Though not as traditional as red wine, you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone turning down a glass of Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Kosher ($45). This epernay champagne is a blend of pinot noir and chardonnay grapes, giving it all the delicate fruit and mineral aromas you’d expect from one of the region’s most respected houses. Available from Renegade Wines, 417 Santa Barbara St. #A6, renegadewines.com.
Herzog Wine Cellars just completed its first harvest in the new Oxnard facility. Tracing back its winemaking roots over 100 years, the family has been making premium kosher wines in California since 1985. You can taste the wines, which include cabernet, merlot, syrah, chardonnay, and riesling, at the new tasting room. Prices from $10-$70, 3201 Camino del Sol, Oxnard, herzogwinecellars.com.