Kosher wine extravaganza pulls out the corks

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Click photo to download. Caption: A fine wine—one of several hundred—sampled at the 2012 Kosher Food and Wine Experience. Vintners from around the globe introduced a wide range of kosher wines to discerning palates at the one day extravaganza. Here, Covenant associate winemaker Jonathon Hajdu pours an extraordinary red produced by the Northern California kosher winery. Credit: Maxine Dovere.

NEW YORK—Connoisseurs and ordinary consumers waited outside the doors to Pier 60 in New York City well before the start of the Sixth Annual Kosher Wine and Food Experience (KFWE) Feb. 13, as a crowd that eventually amounted to almost 2,000 prepared to enjoy “pours” from Israel, America, France, Italy, Spain, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.

Attendees sampled the best and the newest entries in the kosher wine market, with tickets priced at $100. More than 200 varieties of wine were available to be sniffed, swirled, tasted, and (sometimes) emitted into silver spittoons.

Since its comparatively tame beginnings six years ago, KFWE has evolved into a sophisticated food and wine extravaganza. Sponsored by Royal Wine Corp., the leading US producer, importer and marketer of kosher wines and spirits, the event introduces vintages ranging from the simplest to the most complex and extraordinary, varieties able to please the palettes of the once-in-a-while wine drinker or the most demanding connoisseur—including an opportunity to imbibe a sip of “that $100 bottle” of truly exquisite, and kosher, wine. KFWE 2012 also offered an extensive selection of kosher liqueurs and guest “mixologists,” who added creative and clever cocktails to this year’s offerings.   

Kosher wines are enjoying a growing—and increasingly more glowing—reception in the wine world. Varieties from 40 different producers were presented on this year’s tables. Many have been recognized as outstanding in major wine contests, often surpassing their non-kosher competition. New entries included Pacifica Brands from Oregon, a new Herzog single vineyard wine from Napa’s Mt. Veeder and an “Old Vine” Cabernet from The Cave in Israel.

The KFWE is not only a celebration of wines, but also the foods that complement them. The array of wines was complemented by tastings from over 20 of the Metropolitan area’s premier kosher food resources. The variety of food and beverages (in addition to wine) create a virtual worldwide gourmet “experience”—available without ever leaving the Pier 60. From sandwiches to sushi, canapés to chocolates, New York area restaurateurs and caterers presented tastes of their finest fare—all prepared according to kosher dietary laws.

Visitors to KFWE are serious about their consumption. At last year’s event, Israel’s premier wine critic—the late Daniel Rogov—advised attendees to be “prepared,” with knowledge of the wines “you most want to taste.” Rogov, who died last September, would have probably made that point even more emphatically this year, as the selection of 200 wines doubled KFWE’s 2011 offerings.  

The event is an experience in the culture of food and wine at which oenologists can compare opinions and friends can toast one another’s good fortune in finding a new favorite. KFWE is a place where people come to mix meeting and menus. From serious oenologists (those who know and understand wine) to mere novices, all are there to have a good time, share delicious culinary treats with friends, and raise a glass—or two, or three, or more. 

Posted on February 20, 2012 and filed under Features, Food, U.S..