logo right
Home | Author's Biography | Contact

News & Events
New York Jewish Week’s Grand Wine Tasting Report - KFWE
The annual New York Jewish Week’s Grand Wine Tasting was held at City Winery in Manhattan
All the major importers, distributors and brands were on hand along with many boutique/artesian wineries, labels and local kosher wine retailers.

Kosher wine representation included many exciting new world class and high value brands along with foods from local kosher restaurants like Wolf & Lamb and U Café along with the Cheese Guy, Tnuva, Tribe Hummos and Papa Bens’s Kitchen to offer a bit of complimentary and tasty samplings. The New York Jewish Week premiered its latest “Kosher Wine Guide for 2016” with many relevant articles and featured their “Top18” lists. It is available on their web site at:
New York Jewish Week has held this event for four years now with growing attendance of more than 600 enthusiastic consumers and kosher wine enthusiasts.

The times would appear to be continuing to present unprecedented opportunities for the kosher consumer to enjoy world class wine at better value that at any time in history.
In my view it is actually not that easy to find many bad wines produced these days, there just some that are better than others including some that are extraordinary or that are of such incredible value we can only feel increased joy and gratitude for the blessing of this wondrous beverage.
Remember what Pliny the Elder said 2000 years ago: “The best kind of wine is that which is most pleasant to him who drinks it.” Or as I like to paraphrase: “Good wine is wine you like!”

Kosher Food and Wine Experience Report
Sponsored and run by Royal Wines the 7th Annual Kosher Food and Wine Experience - KFWE was held February 4,2013 at Per 60 in New York City and what started in since 2007 has become the premier event of its kind in the kosher wine industry.

Over 250 Kosher wines from all almost every major wine producing country in the world including Argentina, Australia, Chile, Israel, Italy, France, Spain and the United States, were showcased at the event along with more than 30 tri-state kosher restaurants and caterers. About 15% of the wines represented new releases in addition to new and classic vintages.

Since 2007 this event is most comprehensive tasting of kosher wines in North America with more than by 46 producers producer as well as an extensive selection of kosher spirits and liqueurs. More than 1,000 paying consumers attended the evening event which is routinely sold out well in advance.

Notable this year were Alexander the Great Grand Reserve 2007, and Cabernet Franc 2009, Assemblage wines from Barkan, Capcanes Rose (pre release), Clos Mesorah 2010, Domaine Netofa Tinto 2011, Drappier Champagne, Flam Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Syrah 2010, Hagafen Dry Riesling 2012, with others like Castel, Hagefen, Yatir, Yarden, Galil Mountain and Covenant that routinely seem to meet or exceed our expectations.

The array of kosher restaurants and caterers from New York and New Jersey included Abigal’s, Le Marais, Pomegranate, Prime Grill, Gemstone Catering, with other kosher specialty food producers. Among the food I sampled were, streak tartere, shaved tongue, brisket, porcini cappuccino, Kobe sliders and my personal favorite; candied ahi tuna.

It has become an extraordinary opportunity to meet with many winemakers and representatives who express a broad range of strategies for their approach to viticulture -; the cultivation and management of vineyards or wine grapes and oenology - the special art and science that represents the magic of winemaking. But there is one consistent theme that is always present and compelling when you get to interact with many winemakers; It is the unbridled passion that inspires them to continuously engage in a relentless pursuit of excellence in making and improving their wines.

I was pleasantly impressed by a similar inspirational approach when I attended the Israwine2012 Exposition that is held every two years and you need to travel to Tel Aviv.

The Kosher Food and Wine Experience was sponsored by Royal Wine Corp., the leading producer, importer and marketer of award-winning kosher wines and spirits from around the world whose heritage dates back to 1848 when founder Phillip Herzog (1843-1918) supplied wines to Emperor Franz-Joseph in Czechoslovakia. Today, Royal's portfolio of domestic and international wines include producers from France, Italy and Spain, Israel, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile and the U.S.A. Additionally, Royal Wine Corp.'s spirit and liqueur portfolio offers some of the most sought after scotches, rums, bourbons, tequilas and vodkas as well as hard to find specialty items such as flavored brandies and liqueurs. In the U.S., Royal Wine owns and operates Herzog Wine Cellars in Oxnard, CA, and the winery's top- rated kosher restaurant, Tierra Sur. Royal also owns Kedem Winery in New York's Hudson Valley in Marlboro, NY.

Auction of Fine and Rare Vintage Kosher Wines
The first ever major auction of Fine and Rare Vintage Kosher Wines was held in New York City at the Roger Smith Hotel, Penthouse and Solarium on Thursday September 22, 2011 at 7:00 PM. It was conducted by Kestenbaum & Company, Auctioneers of Rare Books Manuscripts and Fine Art. The catalog was true to the theme and offered some of the most rare and Vintage Kosher wines available.

The event had been ably organized by Dan Rabinowitz (Wine Director) with the expert assistance of David Pollack and Gary Landsman on behalf of Skyview Wines.
It was a historic opportunity to access 127 lots of wines and vintages that are simply no longer available at your local wine merchant if they ever were. It has been said that kosher wine has arrived with many now considered to be “world class” and this event was just another example of that confirmation.

Who would have thought as little as a decade ago that leading wine authorities would now remark about kosher wines in the most complimentary terms like:

• “No-one should avoid wines simply because they have kosher certification. It seems generally irrelevant.” Wine Advocate

The catalog include French wines from the legendary 2000 vintage. There were also superb wines from Spain, Israel, and California. Wines were offered in the standard 750 ml bottle sizes as well the rarer Magnum (1.5 liter), Double Magnum (3.0 liter) and even Methusaleh (6.0 liter) bottles. There were vertical collections of sequential vintages. The auction was preceded with a wine tasting, by reservation.

Yes, I was compelled bid and acquire some very special lots. It was indeed a remarkable event and one can only wait with eager anticipation for the next one.

A spirited Trip to Scotland

Malt Whisky in Scotland = Scotch


After an overnight flight from Newark on Tuesday night we arrived early. Immigration and customs was fast and easy.
We picked up our Volvo diesel SUV with a GPS and had a very full day.
We went to Mark's Kosher Deli in Glasgow, Whole Foods Market and generally provisioned.

Our first single malt stop was (1) Auchentoshen Distillery (Lowland) where they triple distill and followed with a short ride to (2) Glengoyne Distillery ( Highland ) for tours and tastings.
We drove up the west side of Loch Lomond, did a 45 minute hike in the woodlands and had a picnic dinner by a waterfall with a low pass fighter jet salute to our arrival which was so low we practically hit the deck.
We continued to Oban for overnight at the Caledonian Hotel by quay and ferry terminal. We bought proper Scottish bonnets at a rural gift shop.

Thursday Happy 4th of July.

Rain to start the day slowly improved to intermittent showers.
Enjoyable but windy trip on a 5,000 ton Caledonian Car Ferry from Oban to Craignure (Island of Mull)

Our first stop was to 13th Century Duart Castle on the coast (a filming location for "Entrapment" and "When Eight Bells Toll")
We drove up the east coast with check in parking lot picnic and to a tour and tasting at (3) Tobermory Distillery (Highland Mull) with a peated and unpeated malt.
Larry and I played challenging (Billy goat) golf at the costal golf course with great views of the mountains, islands, crags and furth (cliffs and bay) and gale force winds.
Ron opted for a long hike.
Some time in the pub, dinner and walk along the quay with colorful buildings and it was another big day.
Overnight was at the Park Lodge Hotel.


We were up and out early morning for the 40 minute drive to the dock at Craignure and first ferry of the day back to Oban.
It was a very different smooth ride back with fair winds and following seas.

We were at (4) Oban Distillery ( West Highland ) in the heart of Oban early for the best tour and tasting yet with most knowledgeable guide.
It was the hashgama tour at 9:55 am.
It was also here we were introduced to the "Flavor Map" plotting single malts on a scale: Light to Rich and Delicate to Smoky.
Also here we registered as Diagio's - "Friends of the Classic Malts" and received our visitors passports and benefits at future distillery visits.

We followed with tailgate sandwiches in the car park and a 3 1/2 hour drive to (5) Glenkitchie Distillery (Lowland) south of Edinburgh .
Then to Thrums Hotel B&B for and a picnic on the back lawn with preparation for 8 PM mincha at Synagogue of Edinburgh.
Dinner was at the Rabbi's (a scotch enthusiast and member of Malt Whisky Society) with two couples from Israel and post midnight return to our B&B where I went around back and climbed in my window as front door required a code and there was no one at the desk.


Was "lovely" with great weather.
Shachrit began at 10:00 am and begin with Nishmat.
Shul Kiddush with china tea cups and glassware was a nice touch.
Lunch was with the Rabbi (a variety of herring and scotch) and then a long walk around the perimeter of Hollyrood Park with its crags (cliffs) and hikers to the Royal Mile and a stroll up hill to the Edinburgh Castle .
After a couple hours of menucha Mincha was at 7:15 pm with 8 pm Seuda at the Rabbi's followed by discussion on parsha shevua.
Shabbos ended at 11:33 pm.


We departed with a packed breakfast at about "hof seven", spent a bit of time driving old Edinburgh and the Royal Mile before heading north to (6) Dalwhinnie Distillery (Northern Highland) and chocolate paring.
At high altitude and remote it is at the gateway to the Cairngorns (Quartz Mountains ) with very cold water and worm tub condenser.
It was here we learned how they enlarge the bourbon barrels by adding staves and recharge them to age the whisky.
Each distillery contributed to a new understanding and some unique experience.

We drove to Cairngorm Mountain Railway base for a picnic lunch, funicular ride up in time for our reserved guided "Walk @ the Top" to the summit.
A trip to a pub, walk to the river and overnight in small and very hospitable B&B called Kinross House in Granton on Spey.
Most locals appear stunned by the spectacular weather, the Wimbledon tennis match and the new Scottish tennis champion from Dunblane.
That and Egypt dominated the news.


The earliest tour (and tasting) yet. We left at the B&B at 8:30 and headed toward (7) Cragganmore Distillery (Speyside) arriving at 9:15 am
We started a private tour at 9:20 am and ended with a special private tasting in a Victorian club room full of antiques.
When we said: "L'chaim! our guide said: "If I new you were going to say "L'chaim" I would have said: "Shalom!"
It is a good story for later as are many others.

We stopped at the River Spey for a photo opportunity and went down to the river for a sip of the water source that flows through Speyside.
We drove to (8) Cardhu Distillery (Speyside) about 10 minutes away and only did a tasting of 5 wee drams as we did not think we could fit in a tour with all we wanted to do.

I had long prior adopted the routine starting by pouring some of my dram into Ron and Larry's as I was the designated driver but did not want to limit variety.
We had a picnic lunch at the Speyside Cooperage where they repair, resize and recharge the barrels/casks.
We passed Chivas, Dewars, Glenfiddich and many others but there is a limit even for us.

We headed to St. Andrews by way of Aberdeen for a walk around the campus, the golf course, clubhouse and a pint at a pub with a view of the last hole of the Old Course.
There was a Tanach conference at St. Andrews while we were there. It can not be common to see sheitels near the golf course.
Dinner was essentially snacking on peanut butter or imitation crab and veggies while driving.
We were at the Hilton Hydro Dunblane for our last night, our last pint and preparation for trip home in the morning.


After a short drive and small drama related to car rental clerical error regarding fuel tank level on pick up we prevailed with gas receipt evidence for our 800 mile journey (avoided $14.00 per gallon fuel refill fee) and proceeded to the EDI terminal.
There was no shortage of scotch tasting opportunities in the airport departure lounge and or duty free shops Including some drams of whisky which cost over $200 per bottle and not available elsewhere.

We generally found prices 30% - 50% higher than here with bottle size of 70cl which is almost 7% smaller than our 750ml.
The only liquor I bought on the trip was a bottle of Southern Comfort at Tesco with is technically a liqueur and only available from Ireland with acceptable hechsher.

We are officially malt whiskey mavens with clarity on the three Ingredients: Grain, Water and Yeast. As well as the Malting (converting starch to dissolvable sugar), Kiln Drying (where peat can be introduced), Grist Milling (flour, grits, husks), Mash Tun (draff and worts), Wash Back (fermentation to low wines), Distillation in pot stills (fore shots, heart, feints), Condensation (columns or worm tubs), Sprit Safe, barrel cooperage and or cask maturing process.

Just three ingredients but many nuanced process variables. Blended Grain, Blended Malt, Single Malt or Single Cask: Yum!

In general the weather far exceeded our expectations as much dryer and warmer than expected as did the apparent fortuitous nature of our timing as we routinely arrived just before an organized tour and or tasting.
It was an extraordinary trip we will recall with many stories and great memories for a very long time and the tales will likely get taller with each dram.


A Magical Trip To Israel

On a magical trip to Israel we had the great fortune take in the 4th International Israwnexpo2012 (held every two years) at the Merkaz HaYeridim in Tel Aviv. With over 30 kosher wineries in exhibiting from the small boutique to the major wineries it was a fine launch into our adventure.

In all we were able to visit 20 wineries in 8 days of touring from the Negev, Golan, Galil, Shomron, Shimshon and Judean Hills where the famous Rashi in parshas Vayechi “Wine will flow like a fountain in the land of Judea” seemed to echo with each sip and vineyard. Ancient wine presses abound in many areas with compelling archeological links to Tanach and Talmud.

One of the highlights was a visit to Kibbutz Hatzerim near Be’ersheva and the Netafim drip irrigation factory that I believe has had a profound influence on the globalization of fine wine in general, and certainly kosher wine. “Netafim Inside” could be labeled on almost every great bottle much like “Intel Inside” on computers. But in relative terms that is the small stuff. These folks have a mission and passion to do “more with less”, preserving global natural resources while making the desert bloom to feed a hungry world. They offer low, medium and high tech solutions to delivering water and nutrition with sustainable management systems that are sold in over 110 countries from 13 factories with 31 subsidiaries and 2,400 employees. It was pioneered in the 1960’s and continually refined right there in the Negev.

It is hard to imagine that only 50 years or so after the use of stainless steel tanks to control temperature and drip irrigation that kosher wine in Israel and elsewhere would be making such a market impact in terms of quality. Netafim points out in a prominently displayed poster: “Can You Afford to Lose a Vintage?” But imagine that during times of climate shifting and local drought a winemaker cannot just loose a vintage but rather an entire decades old vineyard. It has been recently so warm in Champagne, the only place permitted to call their sparkling wine by that name; they have had major challenges growing Champagne grapes there.

Days of cloyingly sweet Kiddush wine have given way to premium wines of world class quality. The transformation is stunning.

It is clear that each winery is quite unique in its approach, philosophy and future goals but each share a love of wine and compelling passion for excellence. There is much strategic planning for growth with new plantings of vineyards and noble grape varietals along with expansion and construction of wineries to increase capacity and quality with an already quite remarkable reputation drawing worldwide recognition and praise from the leading wine authorities.

Almost all wineries are eager to welcome visitors. Some have or are building extensive visitor’s centers with audio visual presentations, bottle shops, gift stores, libraries, restaurants and group or personal guided tours. Wine and cheese or wine and chocolate tastings are popular and many can arrange catered tasting events on premises or in their cellars. Many have no charge to take a tour, others do and still others refund the fee with a purchase. My new book “Fruit of the Vine the Complete Guide to Kosher Wine” provides information on wine touring in Israel listing the resources now available but they are changing and nothing will replace a call or reservation which is required by some especially the smaller ones.

The future is bright and one of the truly great values and blessings in today’s world should only get better and more affordable.

Wine can enhance happiness or melancholy. Our Rabbis teach that when the redemption arrives a great banquet will be held where specially preserved kosher wine will be served. May you drink your wine with good health, joy, family and with good friends. Remember our traditional toast is: “L’chaim. The grammar is clearly plural. Good wine should be shared.

Here’s a tip for your next visit; when you go out to a kosher restaurant in Israel be sure to consider the “domestic” kosher wine.