Kosher Food and Wine Experience
After a 3 year absence because of COVID, the Royal Wine Corp. re-established their annual Kosher Food & Wine Experience at New York’s Chelsea Piers.
I have been writing about kosher wines for a number of years, and there is still quite a story to tell. There are numerous kosher and mevushal wines now in the world market, about 5,000 different ones, and they truly range from the sublime to the ridiculous!
Judaism and wine have been linked since time immemorial. Throughout history, wine has been at the center of ritual Jewish life and kosher wines accompany all ritual meals of the year. Kosher does not indicate anything about the quality in a wine; it is simply a certification that the wine within the bottle has been supervised and handled properly, to be used during Jewish religious observances. Grapes are always kosher when fresh, but wine production is complex and any additives used at any stage in production must be kosher for Passover.
Many wineries from countries with large Jewish populations produce kosher and/or mevushal wines.
While Israel is obviously the largest producer there are also kosher wines from France – a very large producer, the United States’ numerous AVAs, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and more recently Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand to name but a few of the kosher wine producing regions.
Present at the tasting were large producers, like Israel’s Carmel, Yarden, Yatir, and Barkan; medium-sized wineries such as Domaine du Castel in the Judean Hills, Rioja’s Bodegas Faustino and from Italy, two Super Tuscans, Villa Mangiacane Magnificus, and Tuscany’s Tiera di Seta. Plus exclusive French Chateaus such as Château Léoville Poyferré Saint Julien, Château Bellefont-Belcier, a Grand Cru Classé from Saint-Emilion and Château Lascombes Margaux; there were kosher bottles for every taste and every pocketbook from $6.99 to $500 for a current vintage!
At the tasting, the following impressed me enough to note:
Barons de Rothschild Haut-Médoc – $34.99 – A classic blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, it is a high-quality dry kosher Bordeaux. I have tasted it in the past and its quality is always improving. The wine has spicy notes with rich fruit flavors. This bottle is full of dark, juicy cassis with a prominent note of fresh tobacco on the finish and approachable tannins. One of the few mevushal wines I happen to like and would drink it with pleasure.
Tabor Limited Edition – $59.99 – A highly-praised single vineyard from the upper Galilee produces this stellar Cabernet Sauvignon. It graces the wine lists of some of the country’s best restaurants. Full-bodied and well-balanced, it shows aromas of blackberries, black currants, and cassis with hints of caramel. It is a deep dark ruby red wine with cherry hues. Robust and velvety tannins contribute to the exceptional structure.
Psagot Sinai White – V – $24.99 – A refreshing, aromatic, elegant, and fruity blend, bursting with aromas and flavors of melon and pear. Various plots of the vineyard located in the hills of Binyamin overlooking Jerusalem were harvested at the optimal ripening stage and fermented separately; after fermentation, the wines were mixed into a white blend.
Shiloh Secret Reserve Petit Verdot – $49.99 – Often blended in Bordeaux wines to add structure and complexity, Petit Verdot shines in the Judean Hills as a standalone varietal. The grape clusters are hand-picked and carefully culled before dawn from the best vineyards in Israel. On the nose, there are lots of black forest fruits, spices, and ripe plums. Full-bodied with ripe black plums, cinnamon, and basil on the palate as well as ripe blackberries; it has medium acidity with sweet and chewy tannins. There is definitely sweet oak and dark chocolate on the long and rich finish.
Villa Mangiacane Magnificus – $59.99. In the heart of the winemaking region of Chianti Classico, Villa Mangiacane is a magnificent 15th-century property built by the Machiavelli family. It is a classic 50% Sangiovese, 50% Merlot, and Super Tuscan. This wine reveals layers of delicately fruity and savory flavors and aromas. On the nose aromas of black cherry, chocolate, and warm spices with a mineral ending. On the palate a medium level of tannins and a good level of acidity that has structure and balance.
Each year in February, the annual Kosher Food & Wine Experience takes place in New York City to showcase the better kosher producers of foods and wines and to determine which wines will grace America’s Passover Seder tables and which kosher restaurants prepare great dishes to be had for festive occasions. Another major annual event is Kosherfest which takes place in the Meadowlands in New Jersey every November. I attend both events to discover good-tasting wines and of course to try many of the Mittel-European foods that are associated with the Jewish culinary canon. Preparations from other parts of the world, such as sushi, that have become very popular and dietary acceptable by people that follow the kosher traditions were present, as were purveyors of traditional Jewish cooking and kosher steakhouse favorites.
This year’s event was very well attended. I would say that at least 1500 or more individuals jammed the large space at pier 60 while I was there, and many more kept coming in keeping the space very crowded. I was at the event for the first 2 hours of the proceedings. Wine and spirits booths were at the periphery, while food purveyors and restaurants were mostly in the center double isles of two very large rooms.
Traditionally, the event has been a key influencer in determining which foods and wines will grace the East Coast’s Passover Seder tables.
Notable were: Wall Street Grill showing off Spicy Tuna and Spicy Salmon sushi, Guacamole with Sweet Soy Spicy Mayo, and Jalapeno; Thai Beef Bourbon Sriracha; General Kame Chicken with Teriyaki Glaze and Tabasco Aioli and sliced USDA Prime Ribeye. Marble & Grain showing Beef Nigiri with Wasabi Cream; Beef Carpaccio with Silan Molasses, Pistachio Dust, and Pink Salt; Tomahawk Ribeye Steaks with Horseradish Cream & Black Truffle Potatoes and other little and larger plates; Tuscanini (Tuscanini olives, Tuscanini sundried tomatoes and Calabrian peppers with lemon oil, Tuscanini chestnuts, Tuscanini extra virgin olive oil, and Tuscanini forest berry preserves, all imported from Italy. And Miele Gelato & Sorbet that was exhibiting 12 flavors of gelato, sorbet, and alcohol-flavored sorbet; among others.
Elegant Desserts were present with items that were Kosher for Passover. They had a full line of cheesecakes, Danishes, and quiches. They also presented pancakes, rugelach and cakes, and a full line of breads, and their gluten-free kosher for Passover french toast, cinnamon buns, crumb cakes, kokosh cake, and other products.
There were many great purveyors to discover in foods, wines, and spirits!
Story by The Staff and wine bottles photo Manos Angelakis
Additional photos courtesy of Royal Wine Corp.