It's wine, it's kosher and we think we'll have another

By Charlotte Oliver, March 4, 2014
A toast from three of the younger visitors

A toast from three of the younger visitors

The drinks were on Kedem at the Park Lane Sheraton as 800 people road tested some highly agreeable tipples at the company's annual Kosher Food and Wine Experience.

Kedem Europe is the UK's largest importer of kosher wine and this year's event offered wines, spirits and liqueurs from 14 countries for sampling, with prices ranging from a tenner to an eye-popping £240 for the Batard Montrachet 2004 from Royal Wine Europe.

And stomachs were lined - an appropriate word given the queues - by a buffet feast including unlimited supplies of sushi and salt beef.

Israeli wine expert Gal Zohar explained that the diverse selection of products for tasting reflected ever-increasing demand for top end kosher wine, with Israel in particular making its mark on the international market.

"I think that, finally, Israeli wines can make a big step and be known for their quality, rather than just be kosher," he said. "Being kosher is simply an added value.

A bird's eye view of the gathering

A bird's eye view of the gathering

"Producers like Montefiore and Carmel are using grapes that are typical to the Israeli climate, which makes them stand out. For many, that is where the future lies. Away from the Cabernet and Merlot and toward these new and exciting Judean varieties."

Kedem director Morris Herzog concurred, noting: "The younger generation are moving away from Palwin's kiddush wine towards dry table wines. And lots of Jewish cookbooks are coming out with recommended wine pairings, which means people are a lot more educated.

"Some people may still have the mindset that kosher wine is sweet and traditional, but - as you can see - we have high quality table wines."

Among the other alcoholic options, a popular port of call was the Walders liqueur table. The English-based company specialises in creamy, dairy-free blends such as scotch and coffee and vodka and vanilla.

Walders director Shraga Schapita said its products were stocked by Tesco and enjoyed a positive response from both kosher and non-kosher consumers.

"Demand nearly doubles on a year-by-year basis," he said. "People are now very open to kosher products."

Event first-timer Simone Halfin, who had travelled from Surrey to the West End venue, said it had opened her mind to wines she never knew existed.

"We always drink kosher wine on Pesach, but the wines I've tasted here surpassed anything I have ever tried, including non-kosher wines. It's wonderful to think that I can enjoy Friday night dinners now with the best quality wine, which also happens to be kosher."

Last updated: 2:54pm, March 4 2014