Ex-NBA star Stoudemire launches kosher wine range

Former NBA star Amar’e Stoudemire has launched a line of kosher wines ahead of Passover made from vineyards in Israel, retailing at up to US$250 a bottle.

Amare Stroudemire

At a press conference on Tuesday, Stoudemire, 35, said he had been in talks with the Israel Wine Producers Association for three years about making an Israeli wine, having moved to the country in 2016 to play for the Israeli team Hapoel Jerusalem, which he part owns. Prior to Hapoel, Stoudemire played for the New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns  during a 16-year career in the NBA. He retired from the sport in 2017.

“It’s a blessing for me and my family to be able to produce such great wines from a land like the land of Israel, so we’re constantly counting our blessings for that,” Stroudemire told reporters at the Jewish National Fund House in New York, as reported by the Jerusalem Post.

“Once I moved to Israel, it was the perfect connection to meet with the vineyards and go to the tastings and figure out the different blends for each bottle.”

While raised Christian, Stoudemire began exploring a spiritual connection to Judaism on a trip to Israel in 2010, stating that he feels “spiritually and culturally Jewish,” at the time.

The line of kosher wines includes two red blends and one Cabernet Sauvignon, made by the Tulip Winery on its vineyards in Kfar Tikva, in northern Israel – a 2016 reserve ($60), a 2016 grand reserve ($100) and a private collection label ($245).

Kosher beverage giant Royal Wine Corp. is distributing the wines, which are currently only available in New York and New Jersey.

What makes a wine kosher?

For a wine to be kosher, it must have been produced according to Jewish dietary laws. They do not have to be blessed by a rabbi, and are generally made in exactly the same way as normal wines with some additional requirements.

They much be handles throughout only by religious jews, and must not use any animal-based additives, such as egg, gelatin or isinglass, in the fining process.

Kosher wines made specifically for Passover have an additional requirement – they must not have come into contact at any time with bread, grain or leavened dough, although most kosher wines as standard observe this rule.

Last month Champagne Barons de Rothschild announced it was to release a kosher rosé prestige cuvée this year to add to add to its five-strong Champagne range. The prestige rosé will join the brut, extra brut, blanc de blancs, rosé and blanc de blancs prestige cuvée 2008 in the current collection, all of which are kosher.

Known for his love of wine, Stoudemire revealed a penchant for bathing in red wine in 2015, inviting an ESPN reporter to take part in the unusual ritual known as vinotherapy, which is believed to increase circulation of red blood cells.

A half-hour dip at the Aire Ancient Baths in New York, which includes three hours of massages and thermal baths, plus “a cup of tea or juices”, costs $500.

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