Happy (Middle of) Hanukkah! – Baron Herzog 2008 Sauvignon Blanc Wine Review

Baron Herzog Wine ReviewThough the 6th night of Hanukkah is nearly upon us, I still thought it appropriate to do our first Kosher wine review. If you know anything at all about Kosher wine you will know the name “Baron Herzog.” Heck, if you are into wine at all you will have heard of this producer. It’s a giant in the industry, having made wine in their family for nearly a century. I don’t know the actual statistics, but it is safe to say that they are probably the largest and best-selling producer of Kosher wines. The quality of their wines range from modest to downright fine, which you don’t always find in Kosher vino.

Many wine lovers are often put off by Kosher wine. They see “Kosher” or recognize a Kosher label and immediately assume that the wine is of a lower quality or will simply be heavily sweetened. This is simply not true. When you step back and look at the process of Kosher wine making, you will see that there is really not much difference in technique compared to non-Kosher producers. Try to think of Kosher wine as Vegan wine, which means a wine produced with absolutely no animal ingredients such as isinglass or gelatin, products used to fine or clarify wine. Kosher wine making processes take things one small step further, prohibiting the use of unauthorized yeasts when it comes to fermentation. Just like with non-Kosher wine making, wines produced can be of either low, medium or high quality, all dependent on the wine maker, the fruit and techniques used.

The prevalence of sweetness in many Kosher wines comes from the first Kosher wines produced in America nearly a century ago. When Jewish immigrants arrived in America, they found Concord grapes to be plentiful and decided to make wine from them. The wine was, how could we put it…crappy, and they found that adding sugar made it more palatable. Most people have heard of Concord grapes when it comes to jelly, which also has sugar being added to the grapes. Same kind of thing.

Anyway, I strongly urge all of you, Jew or non-Jew, to try a few Kosher wines this holiday season. In particular, seek out some wines from Israel as they can also be quite delicious, though a bit more on the pricey side. For now, head out to nearly any grocery store in the U.S. and you will be able to find a bottle of Baron Herzog wine. And if you’re ever in the Oxnard, CA area, I suggest you check out the magnificent Herzog Cellars. Fascinating place.

Color

Very, very light. I mean, like, water. Never had a Sauvignon Blanc this light.

Nose

Great sharp acid and gooseberry, reminiscent of good New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Some grapefruit and other citrus notes as well.

Taste

Sharp and flavorful. I expected it to be far too light, but instead it comes through with some good lemon-lime, some green orange (just think about eating an unripe one) and still those tart gooseberries. A little rhubarb and some sort of caramel taste finishes things up. All the while it is backed by great acidity.

With Food

Well, seeing as how this is a Kosher wine, I say some herring, gefilte fish, little horseradish, all on top of a matzo cracker. If you’re not really into the Kosher cuisine, I would definitely pair this with light cheeses or some shrimp ceviche. Also, remember to always keep this well-chilled. I know I’m a big proponent of drinking whites at slightly below room temperature, but this wine falls apart a bit without cold.

Where to Buy

Well, practically anywhere, but it’s $7.99 at Prime Wines.

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