Award-winning wines
Award-winning winesIsrael news photo

The Israel Museum in Jerusalem held last week its annual wine-tasting festival, during which Israel’s best winemakers present their products for three days. Visitors are able to taste Israel’s best wines, sample cheeses and enjoy soothing jazz music.

The festival began eight years ago, in the midst of a wave of terror attacks which hit the city of Jerusalem. At that time, Avi Ben and Shmulik Cohen, who own wine stores in Jerusalem, decided to launch the festival to bring some joy to the terror-stricken capital. The festival is attended by thousands of Israelis, both secular and religious.

Arutz Sheva adds: The halakhic laws that prohibit drinking wine touched by a non-Jew, stem from the need to prevent socialization that might lead to intermarriage and other negative results, but they only apply to naturally produced wines. Wine that is heated above a certain temperature before bottling is allowed in any case and is called "mevushal". Observant Jews who wish to imbibe unheated and possibly more gourmet wine, are careful about who opens and pours from the bottle from which they drink.

“There’s a different crowd here than the crowd that comes to Tel Aviv,” Adam Montefiore of Carmel Wines told Arutz Sheva. “There’s a good atmosphere, cooler weather. It’s fantastic.”

Montefiore added that “Carmel is the only company which has a wine for every price and for every taste. We have everything from wine for kiddush, regular grape juice, to super premium wines. We have an answer to any request in the world of wines.”

Another participant in the festival was the Shiloh Winery, which was launched in 2005.

“Our winemaker is Amichai Luria who is a resident of Ma’ale Levona (a Jewish community located not far from Ariel),” said Yossi, the Shiloh Winery's representative at the festival. “He was a handyman in the past and today many consider him to be one of the best winemakers in Israel. We currently export 100,000 bottles and have been able to significantly increase our production in the last five years.”

And, of course, these days one cannot help but connect even such an event to the current social protests in Israel, particularly when wine, especially the new trend to Israeli boutique wines, can be seen as a luxury product. One must recall that holiday and Sabbath Kiddush, usually recited over wine, is an integral part of Judaism and does not have to be made on boutique wines.

“Wine should be sold at convenient prices,” said David Gronich of Carmel Wines. “Wine adds a lot to the social protest. It improves the mood and with a bit of wine the protest is no less civilized as it is now.

“Wine doesn’t have to be something which only belongs to rich people,” he added. “You can taste here wines from all wineries, certainly from Carmel Wines, and see that wine can be enjoyed even at very convenient prices, and you certainly don’t need a mortgage to enjoy a good wine.”