The 2022-2023 kosher wine-tasting event season is upon us!
When most people think of seasons – they think of either the 4 environmental seasons, or the holiday seasons (Jewish or otherwise), and then there are the more obscure – seasons, like the kosher wine-tasting season. Yes, it is a once-a-year season and it starts in December and goes through late March. The exact dates are mostly set now, but a few are still missing, as they depend on the Jewish Lunar calendar with the start of Passover. Yup! Passover drives the entire kosher wine-tasting season – and that makes sense since 40 to 50% of ALL kosher wine sold, happens in the month around and before Passover! That is crazy!
Of course, we cannot talk about a wine-tasting season without discussing the white elephant in the room, which is the sad fact that we have not had these for almost two full years! BRAVO to KFWE NYC which had one earlier this year in NJ. Here is my write-up on that KFWE. Also, there was the highly innovative and well-run virtual KFWE of 2021, which had horrible logistical issues, but the idea and the extremely informative live feed were truly impressive! I may have been a bit too harsh in my critique, yeah I can be a bit overhanded at times, sure the operational component was lacking, and the most important portion of the event was a mess, but the preparation, innovation, thought process, and drive along with the live informative feed really should have been given more credit than I did, Mea culpa, such is life.
So, with that in mind let the festivities begin! The first tasting is the first of the KFWE family events, KFWE Miami. With such a slow season, more on that in a bit, it is nice to see that Miami is now officially on the main KFWE page. In the past, it started to call itself, Kosher Food & Wine Miami, but not KFWE. The KFWE family has officially expanded and subsumed what were already really KFWE events (including Israel and Miami) and now just made it official. The last one in Miami, in 2019, was one of the first KFWE Miami where it was not in Chanukah. I quipped that I thought it was a requirement. This year, they pulled out all stops and made it on Thursday night! Like what??? Yup, the geniuses in Miami think calendars are not for everyone!
KFWE – Kosher Food and Wine Experience
KFWE has been around since 2007 in NYC, and it keeps evolving and growing. Originally, the Los Angeles version was called International Food and Wine Festival (IFWF) it started in 2008. It is not the oldest kosher wine-tasting event, that would be the now-defunct Gotham Kosher Wine Extravaganza. Sadly, they stopped hosting those tastings, such is life, their first one was in 2004, and it ran until 2014. In 2015, the first year that the IFWF became the west coast KFWE, David Whittemore, and the gang from Herzog Winery pulled out all the stops and created what I still think was the best KFWE, with the first-ever VIP session, which was copied in almost every KFWE version, and hey “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. Well, this year the L.A. KFWE is back in Hollywood, at the world-famous Hollywood Palladium, a true slice of Hollywood nostalgia if there ever was one. According to Wikipedia, it is a theater located at 6215 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California. It was built in a Streamline Moderne, Art Deco style and includes an 11,200 square foot dance floor including a mezzanine and a floor level with room for up to 5,000 people. There will be little to no dancing going on or performances from world-class musicians, which is normally what happens at the venue, but instead, it will have an even larger number of wines and food options. I was sad to see the L.A. KFWE move from the Petersen Automotive Museum, where it has been for two years, in 2016 and 2017. However, the 2018 and 2019 KFWE L.A. at the Palladium were freaking EPIC and I expect more greatness!
As I have pounded on and on in these virtual pages, we need more wine education, and the wine education leader, IMHO, is also the kosher wine 800-pound guerilla, Royal Wines. Recently I did a quick check in my mind of the top kosher wineries or kosher wine runs from around the world, and Royal probably imports about 90+% of them. Sure, there are tons of wineries that they do not import, but they are also not wines that I particularly buy and covet. It is just a very interesting fact IMHO, somewhat scary but also very telling. Here are a wine distributor and importer that gets what sells and what does not, and has successfully found the better options out there and keeps adding more.
Cross distributor tastings
At this moment I know of no cross-distributor wine events this wine-tasting season. To be honest I am not sure why. COVID ushered in what a decade could not into the kosher wine-buying public, a lushness that would make a double-fisted drinking goy blush! Kosher wine, alcohol, and spirits are THROUGH the roof! Why would you not want to bank on that and have a kosher wine event with more than just Royal??? If there was ever a time and place for more kosher wine education it is now!
Besides the Royal wine events – AKA KFWE, there are events in Israel, namely Sommelier, the only wine event in Israel publicizing Israel’s diverse wine culture. That happens every year in and around the month of January, as stated earlier exact dates for any of these events are only locked down a few months in advance and the date changes every year.
Israel wines may be going off the deep end, in terms of date juice and all, but Sommelier continues to do a wonderful job of keeping a continuous focus on Israel and its potential in the wine world. Bravo to them!
There is also the Bokobsa event in Paris, which I went to in 2020, which is NOT officially part of the KFWE family, but Royal wines are represented there as are other wineries that Bokobsa imports into France. They had one this year, in 2022, along with the KFWE London, but I was not able to make it to either of them. Unfortunately, I hear there will be no Bokobsa tasting this coming year after they had one in 2022.
Royal wine imports many Bokobsa wines into the USA, but Bokobsa itself makes kosher wines (like the fantastic 2007 and 2012 Sancerre Chavignol, the lovely 2017/2018/2019 Fume Blanc, and the unimported 2017 Pascal Bouchard Chablis, Premier Cru. I was just in Paris last month and I tasted the new 2021 Anthony Girard Sancerre, L’indiscrete, it is AWESOME and I hope Royal imports it. Bokobsa imports wines into France as well, and they are Royal’s distributors in France. The whole kosher wine import game is what drives these events. These are importers/winemakers that need to sell products and they need to advertise what they are selling, so these events are a win-win for us all!
Besides, Sommelier, there are a couple of wine events that happen closer to Passover that are not about a single importer but rather about kosher wine options overall. These events are not as deep as the Royal or Bokobsa wine events, which will showcase almost every single wine these importers make/import. Rather, they are a curated and diverse set of wines that span multiple importers and distributors. This gives wine purveyors like Yarden, Rashbi, M&M, and others the chance to showcase what wines they are selling and what is available.
Sadly, at this point/moment in time, there are no such events on the calendar! The wonderful Grapevine Wines & Spirits Grand Kosher Wine Tasting, sadly, was called off in 2020 and after 7 years of that event, they called it quits.
The Jewish Week Grand Wine Tasting, which was held for 11 years in a row, quite a feat in the kosher wine world, outside of KFWE, sadly came to an end in 2020 as well. Again, I hope someone steps up and creates a proper wine event to allow kosher wine purveyors the opportunity to showcase their wines, outside of Royal wines.
Wine events happening all the time
So there you have a quick history of the wine events that are coming up. There are also a few one-off events going on in NYC (nothing happens in LA or Norcal other than KFWE). Keep an eye open for them!
I will keep updating this page – so bookmark it and I will try my best to keep it up to date!
Kosher wine-tasting events this season – in chronological order:
Name: KFWE Miami – SOLD OUT!
When: December 8th, 2022
Time: 7 PM to 10 PM (6 PM VIP access)
Where: JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa
19999 W Country Club Dr, Aventura, FL 33180
Link to signup or for more information: http://www.kosherfoodandwinemiami.com/
Name: KFWE NYC
When: February 6th, 2023
Where: Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers, New York, NY
Link to signup or for more information: http://kfwe.com/
Name: KFWE LA
When: February 8th, 2023
Where: Hollywood Palladium (6215 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028)|
Link to signup or for more information: https://kfwe.com
When: February 14th and 15th, 2023
Time: 11:30 AM to 5 PM Trade and 6:00 PM to 9:30 PM Public
Where: Heichal HaTarbut
Huberman St 1, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel
Link to more information: http://www.sommelier.co.il/sommelier/
Name: KFWE Tel Aviv
Name: KFWE London
Link to signup or for more information: https://www.kfwelondon.com/