Four Questions with Amichai Lourie, Winemaker

We’ve come a long way from syrupy Manischewitz for the four cups of wine. This week I chat with Israeli winemaker Amichai Lourie. Amichai, who grew up locally, runs Shiloh Winery, so I asked him what makes a wine kosher and how he fills his four cups.

What makes wine kosher?

For wine to be kosher we must follow a few rules that have no effect on the quality of the wine. When wine is produced in Israel, you may not use the grapes until after the first three years of their growth. We’re on a seven-year cycle for growing the trees, and once every seven years we have to leave the land fallow and not use it. We also give a percentage of the sales to the poor.

The wine must also be made by Jews. Additionally, you cannot add anything to the wine that is not kosher. Oftentimes people add things to wine, like glycerin, or fish bones, which are not kosher. I wouldn’t do that and I don’t need to. And I don’t want to!

Years ago people were producing bad kosher wine that was low quality. But over the past 20 years, some amazing kosher wines have been produced, wines that are now medaling in competitions. Shiloh Winery wines won medals in the best competitions around the world and got amazing ratings from the best wine critics in the world. We recently received a 93 rating from Wine Enthusiast. At Decanter Asia Wine Awards, our wines medaled. And we’re not the only good kosher wine out there. People are enjoying and appreciating kosher wines now. At Shiloh Winery we produce high-quality wines that are made from the best grapes that the land has given us following our 2,000 years in exile!

And how is kosher for Passover wine different from everyday kosher wine?

For wine to be kosher for Passover, it needs to be produced in a chametz-free environment, and that’s easy!

What’s your strategy for drinking the four cups of wine? Do you go for the same wine for all four glasses, or do you do more of a tasting flight?

I drink a different wine for each cup. We are celebrating our freedom and becoming a nation, so I choose my wines keeping in mind that this is a special night. I always pick out my best wines. To be Jewish is to know how and when to drink wine. It surrounds us every Shabbat and on holidays and weddings.

Wine can be intimidating, not to mention throwing kosher wine into the mix. Can you recommend some places in the Boston area for low-stress Passover wine shopping?

Good wine is not intimidating! Drink good wine; it will enhance the pleasure of your meal. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice before buying wine. The Butcherie is a good place to start. And you can always call me at 972-50-3422268.

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