One of the niche markets for the South African wine-making business is that of Kosher wines. In order to be a Kosher wine, the grapes must be handled according to Jewish religious laws, most specifically those relating to the Jewish diet. The majority of wines produced around the world are not Kosher, without even knowing it, but there is a growing trend among South African wine makers to produce a Kosher wine. Some people outside of the Jewish Faith believe that wine only has to be blessed to become a good Kosher wine, but that is not the case. Instead, the wine-maker has to follow a strict set of rules.
The rules relate to the ingredients in the wine, as well as a number of other factors which can affect whether a wine is Kosher or not. All of the ingredients must be Kosher, including the gelatine (often made from non-kosher animals) and Isinglass, which is usually made from non-Kosher animals. If a wine is being specifically made for Passover, then it must have had no contact whatsoever with grain, bread, or dough products. The wine must also be processed using materials that are for Kosher wines only, so any equipment must be exclusively Kosher.
There are also a number of rules about who may make, or touch, the wine. In order to ensure that the wine is Kosher, a Jewish person who is Sabbath-observant (i.e. a practising Jew) must be present during all the processes, from harvesting to bottling. As wine has long had a role in non-Jewish religions, there are several strict rules which prevent wine from being Kosher if it has been touched by someone who is an ‘idolater’ or made by someone who is not Jewish. In order to prevent Kosher wine from being used in Idolatry, it is often boiled.
A boiled wine, known as a Mevushal wine, is a particular type of Kosher wine which is protected from losing its Kosher status. This is the most common style of wine being used in Jewish restaurants and catering. Moreover, this boiling can affect the tannin levels and the taste of the wine, creating a uniquely flavoured wine. In order to create the perfect Kosher wine, the makers at Kleine Draken, Zandwijk use the Mevushal process before the juice is fermented. Up to that point, only observant Jews will handle the grape juice and wine. The mashgiach, who supervises the production of food, will observe the process constantly, and only they will decide whether the wine is Kosher or not.
Kleine Draken produce a number of wines which are Kosher, and also Kosher wines for Passover. This includes the Kleine Draken Pinotage, which has a dark red colour and a medium body. The 2006 vintage has plenty of berry aromas, as well as plenty of tannins which ensure that it will be a long-lived wine. The Kleine Draken Sauvignon Blanc 2011 is mainly grassy to the nose, with a crispness which is characteristic of the wine.