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Let's Say L'Chaim: Kiddush 101 & Top Kosher Wines

What is Kiddush?

The blessing over the wine, or kiddush, follows the blessing recited after lighting the Shabbat candles. Some will substitute grape juice, but if you have no personal reason to do so (i.e. you avoid alcohol or there are children who will partake), wine is considered “mehudar,” a better way to beautify Shabbat even more. Certainly it will help you relax -- which will only add to the spirit of Shabbat!

Shabbat Kiddush Wine

Kiddush cup, challah board, and challah knife by Yair Emanuel, candle holder set by Quest Collection, matchbox cover by Dorit Klein

Choosing Your Wine

While any type of wine can be used for the blessing (red or white), Shabbat presents a wonderful opportunity to explore the many new kosher varietals emerging around the world, especially in Israel. Kosher wines have come a long way since the overly sweet Manischewitz of our grandparents’ time. Previously a wine was only considered “kosher” if it had been boiled first. This is no longer necessary. Today’s kosher wines are produced in vineyards under the watch of Rabbinical authorities, who monitor the process from the moment the grapes are harvested to the time the wine is bottled. According to these strict standards, taste and quality are no longer compromised by religious restrictions. As a result, fine kosher wines now hold their own alongside award-winning secular labels. Scroll to bottom to see some of our suggestions -- and consider starting your own Friday night wine tasting club!

Shabbat Kiddush Wine

Our Favorite Wine Vessels

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Shabbat Kiddush Wine

Traditional Blessing Over Wine (Kiddush)

When the time comes to recite the blessing, fill the ceremonial kiddush cup (part of the Shabbat setting) with wine, raise it, and recite the following. We usually just fill one cup and pass it. In a larger group setting, you can pour out small tasting sizes for everyone present, or use a special kiddush fountain.

Baruch atah Ado-nai Elo-heinu melech ha’olam borei p’ri hagafen.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.

Pro Tip: When pouring the wine, some like to overflow the cup by a few drops (signifying that the blessings should be abundant), and then look at the candles when saying the first couple words of kiddush. The gemara comments that doing so is good for one’s eyesight, and brings about a sense of good health.

In Case of a Kiddush Emergency: If you’re stuck without wine or grape juice (or don’t allow wine in the home), you can make kiddush on challah. But of course it’s not the same as with wine.

Shabbat Kiddush Wine

Kiddush Red Wine Recommodations

  • Hagafen Merlot. Hagafen Merlot is a young, bold wine produced in California’s Napa Valley. The mouthfeel is pleasantly rich with flavors of spicy wood and plum fruit. Try serving this wine with dishes such as roasted veal, crispy duck, and teriyaki salmon.

  • Louis Blanc Cote de Brouilly Beaujolais. A light wine made from the gamay grape in the Brouilly region of Beaujolais, this setting yields a high quality wine, fruit-forward with cherries and strawberries. Best paired with lighter meats and fish including stuffed cabbage, oven roasted chicken with lemon and herbs, or grilled sea bass.

  • Psagot Sinai. Psagot will have you coming back for more with this light, fruity kiddush wine that keeps the price down while keeping the flavors up. Enjoy with a variety of foods ranging from roasted chicken to a sweet tiramisu dessert.  

  • Tabor Mt. Tabor Chardonnay. This light yellow-green wine boasts clean aromas of butter, oak, apples, melon, and a touch of lime. The acidic flavors start from the beginning, and continue to build all the way to the finish. If you love acidic wine, you will love the Mt. Tabor Chardonnay. Pair with a light baked cod, or fettuccine alfredo for a delightful dairy Shabbat meal.
Don't want one of these? No worries, has over 900 top rates Kosher wines, including exclusive brands and boutique Israeli wines! Shop today at

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