Flashcards in Eastern Mediterranean Deck (19)
1925 Kernal Ataturk established wineries as part of his westernisation plan. Main regions are;
Thrace (varieties grown are Gamay, Semillon, Claudette)
Aegean Coast (Semillon, Grenache, Carignan)
Anatolia (local varieties)
Beta's Valley, altitude of 1000 metres. Southern French varieties and Cabernet Sauvignon. Some Bordeaux blends produced of high quality, ripeness and spice. Whites range in style from clean varietal fruit to deliberately oxidised and richly nutty. Chateau Kefraya and Chateau Musar are two important producers. Constant military action makes production difficult as many major vineyards are planted near to the centre of the fighting.
Modern industry started in the late 19th Century as Jewish people settled back in Israel. Money was donated for planting by Baron Rothschild. Five defined regions, of which the most important are:
Galilee- includes the Golan Heights and Upper Galilee subregions.
Samaria- Near the Coast, south of Haifa. Carmel (Israel's largest producer) is based there.
Samson- South East, with part in the West Bank.
Eastern Mediterranean country with the fifth largest vineyard area in the world (517,000 ha/1,277,500 acres in 2012) where only 3% of the produce is destined for wine. Most grapes are eaten fresh, used for drying, molasses, and the popular aniseed-flavoured spirit rakı, produced in nearly equal volumes to wine. Of the 552,000 hl/14.6 million gal of wine produced, less than 5% was exported in 2012. Despite the crackdown on alcohol consumption by the long-serving, Islamist-leaning government, the early 21st century saw a marked increase in wine quality and interest in Turkey’s rich heritage of indigenous varieties .
Turks settled in anatolia in the late 11th century as fresh converts to islam. Alcohol consumption was forbidden, which conflicted with the Turks’ old customs of drinking, and promulgated turbulent encounters with alcohol over the next thousand years. The non-Muslim community was allowed to produce and control strong drink and its consumption by all was tolerated for economic reasons. There were prohibitions time and again, a dilemma that has continued throughout the short history of the modern republic, resulting today in burdensome regulations and a punitive tax regime. Nonetheless, a deep-rooted wine culture in Anatolia can be observed even today.
Most importantly, south eastern Turkey is one of the most likely locations of the origins of viniculture, a thesis supported by linguistic evidence.
The ancient civilizations that inhabited the land, from Hittites and Assyrians to Thracians and Lydians, had all been involved in growing grapes and making wine with their relevant customs, ceremonies, and festivities, continuing through Greek, Roman, and Byzantine periods. Alongside its religious attributes, wine was a commodity traded in volume along major river routes and through ports. Between 1650 and 1200 bc, when the Hittites ruled most of Anatolia, there were enhanced laws safeguarding viticultural practices and trade routes, identifying the different types of wine consumed. Hittites used the word wiyana for wine, influencing the words used in many modern languages.
Thracians, the residents of Thrace in what is now north-western Turkey, were in ancient times famous for their wines and drinking habits, and in their Mysteries described dionysus, ‘the god of the grape harvest, winemaking, and wine’ as Thracian. Western Anatolia is home to the ruins of the largest temple dedicated to Dionysus, located in Teos near İzmir. Numerous artefacts depicting grapes and wine-related rituals are displayed in the award-winning Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara.
Turkey- Modern History
Boosted by the construction of a railway network , vineyards in the Aegean and Thrace were the source of vast quantities of wine exported to Europe during the 19th-century phylloxera devastation.
In the aftermath of the First World War, the forced migration of Armenian and Greek settlers, who had been responsible for most of the production of and trade in wine, abandoned Turkish viniculture, with the exception of few Alavi and Syriac villages that persevered in making wine for their own consumption.
In the early years of the modern republic, foreign consultants were hired to aid reconstruction. Most wineries were acquisitions from Greeks but Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the republic, established Atatürk Orman Çiftliği Wine Factory in 1925 to revive Turkish wine production. Doluca in southern Thrace and Kavaklıdere in Ankara, still important wineries today, were in the vanguard during the 1920s. Competition from the state monopoly Tekel and some regional growers encouraged both companies to focus on marketing and sales rather than wine quality and diversity well into the last decade of the 20th century.
A new chapter began in the mid 1990s when Sarafin and Gülor, early boutique wineries in southern Thrace, planted their own vineyards with international varieties and produced varietal wines. Their success spurred many similar new producers in the early 21st century. The concurrent interest in imported wine, despite protective tax policies, helped create a wine culture in Turkey and an overall increase in Turkish wine quality, aided by thoroughly modern technology and foreign consultants hired to improve viticultural and winemaking practices.
Domestic wine consumption of a mere one litre per head per year forced producers to search for new markets. Attempts to introduce and promote Turkish wine in western markets through tastings and competitions swiftly demonstrated that Turkey needs to focus on its own grape varieties and winemaking styles to find a place in export markets already sated with international varietals from elsewhere.
Wines of Turkey, the generic organization founded in 2008 by leading wineries to promote Turkish wine, has been expanding its scope. The focus of Turkey’s Tobacco and Alcohol Market Regulatory Authority is to prevent illegal sales rather than organizing viticulture and winemaking. In effect, the wine scene in Turkey is based on the practice of individual producers rather than on regulations and an accumulation of customs.
In 2013 the government imposed largely unpopular curbs on the sale and promotion of wine.
Turkey- Geography, climate, and grape varieties
Owing to prolonged administrative neglect, the wine-growing regions of Turkey are not officially designated. Geographically, the country is divided into seven regions with a wide variety of climatic conditions.
The relatively wet coastal Black Sea region grows three-quarters of the world’s hazelnuts and good quality tea rather than grapevines. In the central Black Sea province of Tokat there is a tradition of grape growing based around the white variety Narince, well adapted to the cold winters and cool summers. Most vineyards lie at 400 m/1,300 ft elevation, around the course of Kelkit River, the longest tributary of the Yeşilırmak River. It makes rich, opulent wines, often oak aged. Diren, established in 1958, is the only winery based in the region.
The southern shores of the Mediterranean region with dry, hot summers and mild, wet winters do not provide the best conditions for viticulture. Such vineyards and wineries as are there are at high elevations only.
The vast Aegean region, responsible for more than half of Turkey’s wine production, consists of the coastline and the mountainous interior. The climate is typically mediterranean on the coast and inland around Manisa, Turkey’s leading province for grape production. Kavaklıdere’s Pendore vineyards here focus mainly on black varieties under the consultancy of Stéphane derenoncourt.
The area further inland, around Güney in Denizli, has a semi-arid continental climate with hot, dry summers and cold, snowy winters, at elevations of up to 800 m/2,600 ft. The local Çalkarası grape is used mainly for rosé wines. Pamukkale and Küp are the leading producers here with, unusually, experience of more than 50 vintages.
The Aegean is known for two local white grape varieties. The seedless Sultaniye (sultana), Turkey’s most widely planted grape, is basically used for drying but has more recently been the source of some fresh, aromatic wines. Bornova Misketi, associated with the Bornova area of Izmir, is related to muscat blanc à petits grains and is used for dry and semi-sweet wines as well as for dried-grape wines, a style gaining in popularity. Dark-skinned local varieties Foça Karası and Urla Karası are relatively recent (re?)discoveries by local producers. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, and Petit Verdot produce richly structured wines while the fruit of generally older Alicante Bouschet and Carignan vines is used mostly for blending. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc can make fine wines when grown at high elevations, as proven by Sevilen, founded in 1942.
A good 40% of all registered producers are based in the Marmara region that includes eastern Thrace. Surrounded by three seas, the peninsula has a unique terroir with two low mountain ranges, Ganos to the south and Strandja to the north. The most valuable vineyard areas are located in their foothills. Influenced by the Sea of Marmara, the climate is typically Mediterranean in southern Thrace, where local black Karalahna grapes give deeply coloured, tannic wines. Adakarası, an aromatic variety grown on the island of Avşa in the Sea of Marmara, is often used for rosé. The success of recently revived white varieties Yapıncak and Kolorko has triggered a spate of new plantings. Doluca has for long been the leading winery of the region. Kayra, since taking over the former state monopoly Tekel in 2005, has won instant recognition for creativity and dynamism despite the staid image of its predecessor.
The province of Kırklareli in the foothills of Strandja Mountains is close to the Black Sea that influences the mild continental climate here. Soils are particularly varied and include decomposed granite, limestone, terra rossa clay, and quartz gravels. The region’s late-ripening Papaskarası yields smooth, fruity reds with bright acidity. Some of Turkey’s most energetic newcomers are based in this relatively cool climate.
The windy island of Bozcaada is home to some of the oldest wineries and vineyards in Turkey and grows mainly local varieties such as the dark Kuntra and pale Çavuş and Vasilaki, mostly as bush vines. Despite this traditional wine culture, the island was put on the wine map thanks to the efforts of the visionary winery Corvus.
The vineyards in Central Anatolia follow the course of Turkey’s longest river, the Kızılırmak. North east of the capital Ankara lies the town of Kalecik, home to the native black grape Kalecik Karası, saved from extinction during the 1970s. Its soft, fresh reds enjoyed cult status in the early 1990s. The vineyards are planted at an elevation of 650 m/2,130 ft, in lime-rich loam and gravel. The river and the surrounding mountains moderate what is otherwise a severe continental climate.
Upriver in the south east, Cappadocia has an elevation of over 1000 m/3,280 ft, with sandy, volcanic soils. The climate is continental and arid with low rainfall. Winters are very cold and mostly snowy while summers are hot and dry. Winter and spring frosts can pose problems. The most promising grape variety in Cappadocia for dry and sparkling wines is the white Emir. Other white wine grapes Narince, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay have also performed well. Kavaklıdere, based in Ankara, has vineyards in Cappadocia focusing on white varieties branded Côtes d’Avanos. Established in 1943, Turasan is the oldest and the leading producer in Cappadocia with two main vineyard areas. Their winery is carved out of one of Cappadocia’s spectacular rock formations in the town of Ürgüp, a well-known tourist destination.
In eastern Anatolia vineyards are on the course of the Euphrates River in the provinces of Malatya and Elazığ, at elevations of 1000 to 1100 m or more with a markedly continental climate. Annual rainfall can be under 400 mm and diurnal temperature variation is wide. The principal variety planted is Öküzgözü along with some Boğazkere. Most vineyards here are well managed and free of phylloxera.
The vineyards of south-eastern Anatolia are less well cared for than those of Elazığ, and phylloxera infestations are common. Although only 130 km from Elazığ, the area around the city of Diyarbakır, the principal city of south east Turkey where Kurdish influence is strong, is very different. Much lower elevation, in the basin of the Tigris River, this area is extremely hot in summer. The best grapes come from higher land in the Çüngüş and Çermik areas northwest of Diyarbakır which is closer to the Euphrates than the Tigris but more influenced by the conditions of Diyarbakır. South-eastern Anatolia’s harvest is the latest in Turkey, extending into late October.
Gigantic dams have been built on both the Euphrates and Tigris which have had the effect of making the climate milder.
Of the two main varieties this part of Turkey is known for, Öküzgözü is Turkey’s most widely planted red wine grape, giving medium-bodied, fruity wines. Boğazkere, a thick-skinned grape from the area around Diyarbakır, makes tannic wines with ageing potential. They are traditionally blended for well-balanced, structured wines which go well with the meat-based cuisine of the region. Although both varieties are also planted in other areas of Turkey, many producers choose to source their grapes from Elazığ and Diyarbakır. The former Tekel facility in Elazığ, run by Kayra for the famous Buzbağ label, is one of very few wineries in the region.
One of the oldest sites of wine production, incorporating some of the ancient eastern Mediterranean land of canaan and, subsequently, most of phoenicia, whose people were arguably the first to treat wine as a tradable commodity (see origins of viniculture). In Baalbek, the ancient Greek city in the Bekaa Valley which is the vine-growing centre of Lebanon, is the temple of bacchus, built in the middle of the 2nd century ad and excavated, displaying much of its former glory, in the early 20th century.
In the Middle Ages, the rich wines of Tyre and Sidon were particularly treasured in Europe, and were traded by the merchants of venice, to whom these ports belonged for much of the 13th century. In 1517, what is now Lebanon was absorbed into the Ottoman Empire and winemaking was forbidden, except for religious purposes. This allowed Lebanon’s Christians, mainly Maronites and Greek and Armenian Orthodox, to produce wine and in 1857 the Jesuit missionaries of Ksara introduced new vine varieties and production methods from French-governed Algeria, laying the foundations of the modern Lebanese wine industry.
The French administration that governed Lebanon between the wars created unprecedented demand for wine, while Lebanon’s post-independence role as a cosmopolitan, financial hub allowed the new wine culture to take hold. It lasted until 1975 when the country descended into a 15-year civil war that stunted the development of the sector. Although only two harvests were lost to the fighting, only Chateau Musar, which recognized the need to penetrate new markets if it was to survive, genuinely thrived during this turbulent period. With peace came new opportunities and growth. The success of Chateau Kefraya, which began producing wine in 1979 after decades of supplying grapes to others, and the popularity of New World wines, galvanized Lebanon’s few established wineries and inspired a new generation, many of whom were producers of arak, the aniseed-flavoured eau-de-vie that is the country’s national drink, to exploit the potential of the Bekaa Valley’s formidable terroir. In the 20 years since the mid 1990s the number of wineries increased from five to over 40. Around 90% of Lebanon’s production may still come from ten producers, but they have proved they can produce world-class wine and stepped out of the shadow of the celebrated but quirky Chateau Musar. In 2013, total production was estimated to be 9 million bottles from 2,000 ha/5,000 acres of grapevines dedicated to wine production (oiv reckoned the total vineyard area was 14,000 ha/34,595 acres in 2011). In the same year, a National Wine Institute was formed with a view, inter alia, to creating a system inspired by France’s appellation d’origine contrôlée.
The Bekaa Valley (more a plateau than a valley, and sitting at an elevation of around 1,000 m/3,280 ft between the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon mountain ranges) is still the epicentre of the wine industry. The majority of the vineyards are in the Western Bekaa, Zahlé, and more recently in the drier regions of Baalbek and Hermel. The Bekaa enjoys dry summers, cool nights, and consistent rainfall so that the grapes rarely ripen before the middle of September (considerably later than some southern French vineyards, for example). Minimal vineyard treatments are needed today and almost half of all vines for wine production are trained on wires rather than sprawling in vigorous bush form. Average yields are around 5 tonnes/ha.
Other regions are emerging. The northern district of Batroun is home to eight producers, while there are also serious wineries in Mount Lebanon, the Chouf, and the south. All have different terroirs and have, albeit modestly, contributed to expanding Lebanon’s variety of styles.
French influence on the country is still apparent in the grape varieties most commonly planted. For nearly 150 years, Cinsaut, Carignan and to a lesser extent Mourvèdre, Grenache, and Ugni Blanc were the dominant varieties but the post-war resurgence saw major plantings of fashionable international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Chardonnay in the mid 1990s. These were soon followed by Tempranillo, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Muscat, Sémillon, and Clairette. In total, around 30 varieties are grown, including a parcel of the little-known French variety arinarnoa.
With red wines Lebanese producers fell heavily for Bordeaux and Rhône blends but Cinsault, Carignan, Grenache, and Mourvèdre (and to a lesser extent Tempranillo) are proving increasingly popular. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, and to a lesser extent Viognier, make up a diverse cast of pale-skinned varieties, and Lebanese whites, once an afterthought, are now being taken seriously. The increasingly popular Obaideh, and Merweh (or Merwah), were long considered indigenous but they may be genetically identical to Chardonnay and Sémillon respectively.
The Hochar family’s distinctively Levantine red Chateau Musar is still Lebanon’s most celebrated wine, a gamey blend of 50 to 80% Cabernet Sauvignon fleshed out with Cinsaut and Carignan. It has been both fêted as a work of genius and dismissed as an anachronism, flawed with excessive volatile acidity and hype, but its fans around the globe are legion. Influenced by a close relationship with the bartons of Bordeaux in the early 1960s, the Hochars introduced destemming and maturation in new French oak barrels. Musar also produces small quantities of an equally full-bodied, oak-aged white, primarily from the two local varieties, and even smaller quantities of rosé.
Lebanon’s biggest producer is Chateau Ksara, sold to a consortium of Lebanese businessmen in 1973 and now responsible for more than a third of all the wine sold in Lebanon, including most notably its top Bordeaux blend Cuvée du Troisième Millénaire, and Le Souverain, a Cabernet Sauvignon/Arinarnoa blend.
Chateau Kefraya, Lebanon’s second biggest winery, was founded in 1979 and claims to use grapes only from its own 300 ha vineyards in the village of Kefraya. Its Cabernet/Syrah blend Comte de M 1996 convinced the outside world that there was more to Lebanese wine than Chateau Musar. The majority shareholder is the colourful Druze politician Walid Jumblatt.
Of the new generation, Massaya, a Franco-Lebanese alliance formed in 1997 between the Lebanese Ghosn brothers and heavyweight French investors from Bordeaux and Châteauneuf-du-Pape, set the early pace, followed closely by Château St Thomas and Domaine Wardy. All producing respected wines by what is a growing number of French-trained Lebanese winemakers, they have been joined by a resurgent Domaine des Tourelles (Lebanon’s oldest commercial winery), Ixsir, an ambitious $12 million winery in Batroun, Château Marsyas, Château Ka, Domaine de Baal, Château Khoury, and Château Belle-Vue, all of which make wine well up to international standards.
The biblical land of milk and honey (see canaan), lays claim to being the cradle of the world’s wine industry. In 2013 locals estimated that about 5,500 ha/13,585 acres of vineyards were producing about 260,000 hl/6.86 million gal of wine a year. (oiv figures for total vineyard area in 2011 were 9,000 ha.)
The fruit of the vine was economically important in the Holy Land and was designated one of the seven blessed species of fruit specified in the book of Deuteronomy (see bible). The dangers of immoderate wine consumption were fully recognized, and excess strictly forbidden. Vine-growing continued under Christian rule, even after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, until ad 636, when the spread of islam brought about destruction of the vineyards. The Crusaders temporarily restored wine production between ad 1100 and 1300, but with the exile of the Jews, vine-growing ceased.
At the end of the 19th century, Jews returned to the Holy Land from the Diaspora, and 1882 saw the beginning of the modern era with the support of Baron Edmond de rothschild. His massive benefaction made viticulture an important part of the agricultural resettlement programmes. French experts provided expertise. Two wineries with deep underground cellars were built, Rishon Le Zion in 1890 and Zichron Ya’acov in 1892, which remain the largest wineries in Israel. The Société Co-operative Vigneronne des Grandes Caves was founded in 1906, trading under the name Carmel. The Rothschilds owned the wineries until 1957, when they were donated to the co-operative. The industry grew and thrived, exporting kosher wine to Jewish communities throughout the world for over 100 years.
The quality revolution began in the 1980s: planting vineyards with international varieties in cooler, higher-elevation areas, combined with internationally trained winemakers and expertise, originally from California, had dramatic effects. Yarden wines from the Golan Heights Winery first won international acclaim in the 1980s.
Israel is a sliver of a country, stretching a mere 424 km/263 miles in length. The north and centre of the country may be divided into the fertile coastal plain and the mountainous region that runs down the spine of the country, which falls away to the Jordan Rift Valley in the east. The Negev Desert, combining arid and semi-arid areas, makes up over half the country.
The climate is mediterranean with long, hot, dry summers and short, cool, rainy winters, with occasional snow at higher elevations in winter.
Israeli viticulture tends to be an ongoing battle with the elements. There is a chronic lack of water and the coastal area can be hot and humid. The wine industry has gradually moved northwards to Galilee and eastwards towards Jerusalem in search of higher elevations. Most vines are cordon spur pruned in a vsp. mechanical harvesting is usually preferred although older vines are planted as bush vines and are hand picked. canopy management is crucial to reduce vigour and protect the grapes from sunburn. drip irrigation, pioneered by the Israelis in the 1960s and developed worldwide, is the norm. Harvesting starts mid July and may last until the first week of November, but most grapes are picked from August to mid October.
Israel- Wine Regions
There are five registered regions. Galilee in the north includes the Upper Galilee, Lower Galilee, and Golan Heights.
Shomron includes Mount Carmel, with the majority of the region’s vineyards, the Sharon Plain and the Shomron Hills.
Samson covers the central coastal plain south east of Tel Aviv, the Judean Lowlands, and Judean Foothills.
The Judean Hills, which rise from the foothills west of Jerusalem, run from north of Jerusalem down to the beginning of the desert area.
Finally, the Negev region covers the south of the country.
Soils vary from sandy and terra rossa on the coast, limestone and chalk on the hills, volcanic in the north, and loess in the south.
Israel- Grape Varieties
Most of the best red wines are made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Shiraz/ Syrah. There are some interesting varietal Cabernet Francs and characterful old-vine Carignans and Petite Sirahs. Carignan is the variety that has spanned the modern wine history of Israel, having been planted even before Rothschild involvement. Unique to Israel is argaman, a local cross designed for inexpensive blends.
Among the whites, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are supplemented by Gewurztraminer, Riesling, and Viognier. The davis creation emerald riesling has enjoyed more commercial success in Israel than elsewhere. The only winery still using local varieties such as Hamdani, Jandali, and Dabouki is that in the Cremisan Monastery between the West Bank and Jerusalem, and researchers are busy comparing their DNA with that of better-known international varieties, and with ancient grape seeds found by archaeologists
Israel- Modern Wine Production
Small wineries continue to proliferate. The 21st century brought new investors: Carmel was bought by an international consortium; Barkan was purchased by Israel’s largest brewery; and Tabor by Israel’s largest beverage company. By 2013 the 40 commercial wineries harvesting more than 50 metric tons a year were complemented by hundreds of small wineries and producers of garage wines. The three largest wineries were Carmel, Barkan, and the Golan Heights, which together controlled 65% of the Israeli market, followed by Teperberg, Binyamina, Tabor, Tishbi, Galil Mountain, Dalton, and Recanati. These ten wineries have well over 90% of the market and most of the exports. Reputable small wineries include Clos de Gat, Domaine du Castel, Flam, Margalit, Tzora, and Yatir. Most wineries are modern, the technology is advanced, and internationally trained winemakers predominate.
The areas near Anatolia
(meaning pure). To the Jewish people, there is no communal, religious, or family event without wine. The vine was one of the seven fruits blessed in the Bible and there is even a special blessing devoted to wine: ‘Blessed are You, Lord our God … who creates the fruit of the vine.’
Adhering to the Jewish dietary laws (kashrut) is essential for all Orthodox Jews. Kosher wine laws were established in ancient times, so an observant Jew could avoid drinking Yayin Nesech, a wine used for idol worship and Stam Yayin, wine made by non-Jews.
With kosher food the focus is on the source of the food, whereas with kosher wine, the emphasis is on the handler. At the winery, for a wine to be considered kosher, only religious Jews may handle the product and touch the winemaking equipment from the time the grapes arrive at the winery.
Only kosher items or substances may be used in the process. The kosher certification provides a similar quality assurance to the iso systems. All raw materials such as added yeasts, barrels, and fining agents have to be prepared under the strictest quality and hygiene standards. Origin and traceability are key. Examples of fining agents not permitted include (animal-derived) gelatine, (dairy-derived) casein, and isinglass (because it comes from a non-kosher fish). Kosher wine is suitable for vegetarians, and if egg whites are not used for fining, also for vegans.
In Israel, there are additional agricultural laws which date back to the agrarian society in Biblical times:
1. Orlah. For the first three years, fruit from the vine may not be used for winemaking.
2. Kilai Ha’Kerem. Cross-breeding. Growing other fruits between the vines is prohibited.
3. Shmittah. Every seventh year, the fields should be left fallow. However, because of economic realities, the land is symbolically sold to a non-Jew for the duration of this sabbatical year.
4. Trumot and Ma’aserot. Just over 1% of the production is poured away in remembrance of a tithe once paid in the time of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
The idea of giving the land and its workers a seventh-year sabbatical and reserving part of the harvest for the poor was socially progressive in biblical times. Today, Shmittah and Trumot and Ma’asarot remain mainly symbolic.
‘Kosher for Passover’ means the wine and barrels have not come into contact with bread, grain, or products made with leavened dough. Most kosher wines are also ‘Kosher for Passover’.
The rules are full of ritual and tradition. It is notable, however, that there are no regulations affecting the quality of the wine, and standard winemaking procedures are followed in the harvesting, fermentation, maturation, blending, and bottling.
The issue of Yayin Mevushal is more controversial. Mevushal wines must be flash pasteurized to 175 °F/80 °C. The requirement relates to wine handling and to service to those more strictly religious, especially with regard to kosher catering. If mevushal, the wine remains kosher even if served by a non-observant waiter. Most of the finest kosher wines are not mevushal.
The Jewish sacramental wine category has done untold damage to the image of kosher wines. These wines are usually made from a mixture of grape must and wine, and often from labrusca varieties such as concord. They are used by Jewish communities or families to make kiddush—the blessing over wine for festivals and the Sabbath. Manischevitz and Palwin are well-known examples of kiddush wines.
Most wine enthusiasts prefer to use kosher table wines, which are of increasingly good quality. Some of the best are produced by Capçanes in Catalunya and Covenant in California. Leading Israeli producers of kosher wine include Castel, Carmel, Yarden, and Yatir. Even non-kosher wineries, such as Chx Léoville-Poyferré and Valandraud have been known occasionally to make a kosher cuvée.
The largest producers of kosher wine are Israel, the US, and France, but almost all wine-producing countries produce some kosher bottlings today.
The vine, including its chief product, wine, is mentioned more often in the Bible than any other plant. The Book of Genesis presents the invention of viticulture as a step in the development of civilization. ‘And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard. And he drank of the wine and was drunken’ (Gen. 9. 20–1). The original Hebrew text and its translations state clearly that Noah was the first to make wine, just as Abel was the first shepherd, Cain the first city builder, Jabel the first dweller in tents and keeper of cattle, Jubal the first musician, and Tubal-cain the first smith (Gen. 4. 2–22). By becoming the first winemaker, Noah fulfils his father’s prophecy: ‘this same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed’ (Gen. 5. 29). viticulture is divinely ordained: the art of winemaking will soften the rigours of human existence in a fallen world.
But wine is intoxicating if taken in excess: the invention of wine is also the occasion of the first drunkenness. Noah ‘was uncovered within his tent’. Yet Genesis does not condemn Noah for his drunkenness and indecent exposure: it is Ham, the son who draws attention to his father’s nakedness instead of respectfully covering it as Japheth and Shem do, who gets the blame. The impropriety is Ham’s, not Noah’s, and Noah curses Ham’s offspring.
Even if Genesis was not troubled by drunkenness, the early Christian commentators were. The Church Fathers found all manner of excuses for Noah’s behaviour: that Noah did not know the possible effects of wine, for example; that he drank to blot out his sorrow at the death and devastation wrought by the Flood; or that he was not drunk in a literal sense. Allegorically, Noah’s drunkenness signifies divine ecstasy, the joy experienced by the Christian at the eucharist, when wine is drunk. This interpretation is first offered by St Cyprian (d. 258), and, once it had been adopted by St Ambrose in the 4th century, it became the standard gloss on this text. Going yet further, because events in the Old Testament are read as foreshadowing parts of the life of Christ, Noah prefigures Christ. The wine that Noah drinks is the cup that God the Father would not allow to pass from Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26. 39; cf. Mark 14. 35, Luke 22. 41–2), as St Augustine stated in Book 16 of The City of God (written in 429). In the eyes of Augustine and those of medieval commentators after him, because Noah’s drunkenness points forward to Christ’s Passion, it is to be praised. Similarly, the speaker of Isaiah 63. 3, who has ‘trodden the wine press alone’, is interpreted as Christ, the man of sorrows (Isa. 53. 3).
In the Middle Ages, Christ in his Passion is often depicted as a man treading grapes or even—but not in English art—crushed in a wine press. These numerous mentions of grapes, wine, and the vintage in the Old Testament are allegorized as representing Christ’s Passion: the bunch of grapes from the Promised Land (Num. 13. 24), for example; the vineyard in Isaiah 5. 1–7; and the wine in the Song of Songs.
Nowadays this method of biblical interpretation, known technically as typology, is used much less often: we may still hear Moses mentioned occasionally as a type of Christ but not Noah. Modern biblical scholars restrict themselves to pointing out that in a primitive society lack of respect for one’s elders is a far more serious offence than drunkenness.
The Bible is not suitable reading for teetotallers. As the Psalmist says, ‘wine maketh glad the heart of man’ (Ps. 104. 15). Although we may not realize it, Psalm 23, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’, sings the praises of wine. In the line which is familiar to most English speakers as ‘My cup runneth over’, the cup contains wine, and the original version, followed by the various Latin translations, speaks approvingly of its intoxicating properties. To be deprived of wine is a terrible thing. Whenever the Prophets threaten doom and destruction, they say that the Lord will withhold the benefits of the vintage from the Israelites, as in Micah 6. 15, Amos 4. 9, Isaiah 17. 6, and Joel 1. 10. In the New Testament, Timothy is advised to give up drinking water and instead to ‘use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities’ (1 Tim. 5. 23, now no longer thought to be by St Paul).
A rare disapproving reference would seem to be Acts 2. 13, when sceptical observers dismiss the Pentecostal miracle of speaking in tongues as drunkenness: the apostles ‘are full of new wine’, but the disapproval is aimed at the unseemly babble, not at wine; in any case, Pentecost is not the time of the vintage so the insult is perhaps not to be taken literally. ‘New wine’ evokes images of joyful abandon and drunken revelry, as in Joel 1. 5, where the Israelites, Joel prophesies, will labour in vain: ‘Awake, ye drunkards, and weep, and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine, for it is cut off from your mouth.’ But as a sign of God’s mercy ‘the mountains shall drop down new wine’ (Joel 3. 18).
Old wine is never mentioned in the Old Testament, but it is in the New. Where the Synoptic Gospels explain that new wine should not be put into old ‘bottles’, wineskins in fact, as a matter of hygiene (Luke 5. 37–9, Matt. 9. 16–17, Mark 2. 21–2), only Luke adds, ‘No man also, having drunk old wine, straightaway desireth new; for he saith, The old is better.’ The old wine would not of course have been stored and aged in a wineskin but in a sealed non-permeable container such as an amphora. In the hot climate of the Holy Land, old wine would have been better than new, especially if it was a heavy tannic red. Compare Greek and Latin authors, who always prefer old wine to new (see ageing, Ancient greece, and classical texts).
On one occasion, Christ himself expresses a desire to drink new wine. At the Last Supper, as the Synoptic Gospels tell us (Matt. 26. 29, Mark 14. 25, Luke 22. 18), he will not drink the wine until he drinks it new in the kingdom of his Father (Luke omits ‘new’). These passages describe how the Eucharist was instituted. The new wine which Christ will drink when God’s everlasting kingdom has come carried with it all the associations of the joy of the vintage. And Christ was aware of the importance of wine. His first miracle was to turn water into wine at the marriage feast in Cana, when the wine had run out. The governor of the feast, who does not know where the wine has come from, says to the bridegroom, ‘Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine and, when men have well drunk, then that which is worse; but thou hast kept the good wine until now’ (John 2. 10). One would dearly like to know what this wine was like. But how delightful that Christ should be portrayed as a man of taste and discernment and that this should be the first tangible proof of his glory and the miracle that convinced the disciples. ‘This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana, of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed in him’ (John 2. 11).