Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Czech Republic's Kosher Wine Tasting

Guest blogger Catherine Marshall shares a special wine tasting with us . . .

This is the perfect place to host a kosher wine degustation: Trebic's Jewish Quarter which comprises, along with the city's Jewish Cemetery and the St Procopius Basilica, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

In a café near the Jewish Gate, Szabo Tibor pours a Riesling and points to the platters before me: there is cheese and bread, meat spread and blue cheese spread and – could it be? – a slice of chocolate cake.

“Taste the wine, eat something,” he says. “Taste it again and you will see the taste changes.”

And indeed he’s right: something happens to the receptors on my tongue when I follow the food with wine. I try it again, with the chardonnay and the rose and the black grape varietal called Svatovavrinecke.

They’re lovely-tasting wines, but undetectable as a kosher, for such wines are classified not by taste but by the method of production.

“From the time you pick the grape, to the moment the cork goes in, only Orthodox Jews can [be involved],” says Tibor, himself merely a Gentile wine lover. “The process is supervised by a rabbi from Prague.”

Just one Jewish family remains in Trebic – home to the largest and best-preserved Jewish Quarter outside of Israel, from which thousands of Jews were transported to death camps during World War II. And only two kosher winemakers remain in the Czech Republic. Yet locals are keeping the Jewish memory alive: Tibor holds his kosher wine tastings, while resident Linda Navratilova immersive Jewish experience tours.

Back at the café, it’s time to taste the dessert wine, Zweigeltrabe. I take a sip, and follow it with a bite of chocolate cake. How appropriate that this wine should be served during Shabbat, for it’s as though I’ve tasted a piece of heaven.

The writer was a guest of Beyond Travel. More information:;

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