As the year draws to a close, there have been some remarkable changes for the kosher wine industry that portend well for the future.
After years of demonstrating that kosher products can compete with their non-kosher counterparts, a new dawn of recognition has descended upon the beverage scene, recognizing the quality, equality and sophistication attained with kosher wines.
Royal Wine Corp out of Bayonne, N.J., for example, has expanded its import portfolio to cover territories such as France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, Chile and Israel.
In line with the new year and new beginnings, I recommend the distinguished "new" port from Portugal called Porto Cordovera. This carefully handcrafted ruby wine is a blended assortment of the finest wines produced in the Upper Douro Valley. A desirable dessert wine, it's divine to sip after dinner.
A popular newcomer is the much-talked about Baron Herzog Jeunesse, a red, off-dry Cabernet favored by both dry-wine lovers and those wishing to be introduced to a sophisticated taste. The product was introduced by Herzog Wine Cellars in Oxnard, Calif., by Joe Hurliman, resident winemaker at California's new all-kosher winery. It serves as a light companion to a heavy meal, such as steak. It's best served chilled, as recommended.
Looking to Europe, you cannot pass up an opportunity to savor the highly acclaimed Opinioni's Verdetto Umbrai Rosso 2005. Amazingly dense yet extremely clean, this blend — suggesting blue blackberries, mixed with woody vanilla and an underlying cool mint — is bound to freshen up any palette.
New Zealand is the unlikely site of the latest outstanding hit found in a Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir that has sparked wide interest. Described as a wine of superior character and style, it pours crisp, with nuances of tangerine and quince aromas, finished with a flourish of fresh spices.
And if sweet is your preference, then I suggest Hungary's Tokajoi from Langer Reserve. There is a choice of three to five "puttonyons" (the buckets holding the bunches of grapes), and the higher the number, the sweeter the taste. The region is recapturing its former glory with nobility, and the more modern method of production issues a lighter color with a fresher style containing more fruit.
Finally, with the advent of the new generation of acclaimed Israeli wines comes Segal's Dovev or Dishon. Owning a 2002 vintage, these sterling selections excel at any table. Within the last decade, 200 wineries have grown to export a wonderful choice of varietals that have garnered prestigious medals, making Israeli wines a choice to reckon with in both the kosher and, indeed, the general market.