Glasses were raised to Kedem Europe in central London on Monday as 800 people ate, drank and were socially merry at its annual Kosher Food and Wine Experience.
Guests arriving at the Park Lane Sheraton received a table plan of exhibitors, plus a list of the wines and liqueurs available for tasting. However, being a Jewish event, the largest queues thronged the regularly replenished buffet, with the sushi and salmon area a particular bottleneck.
Well over two dozen wineries were represented, among them Israeli, American, French, Italian, Spanish, South American and New Zealand producers.
All wines on display are imported by Kedem, whose director Morris Herzog attributed the breadth of choice to a continuing rise in demand. He estimated that up to 1.5 million bottles of kosher wine would be sold in the UK in 2013, triple the number purchased five years ago.
Contributing factors were “Jewish people getting more sophisticated in their taste and moving on from sweet, kiddush-type wine and sales in the non-Jewish market”. For the latter, the biggest seller is the sweet, light Moscato from Italian exhibitor Bartenura, one of the cheaper wines on display — the high end specialities retail for as much as £240.
Mr Herzog said the Moscato appealed to both wine-lovers and occasional drinkers. “It’s available from 345 Sainsbury’s [where it is priced at £8.49].” More upmarket tipples could be found on the shelves at Selfridges and leading wine shops. A number of non-Jewish restaurants were adding kosher wines to their menus, he reported.
New exhibitors included Ellen and Gershon Bodner, whose Morad winery in Yokneam, at the foot of the Carmel Mountains, sells 100,000 bottles of wines and liqueurs a year. “The US is a bigger market for us than Israel,” Mr Bodner explained as his wife poured tasters of the company’s exotic wines, such as pomegranate and passion fruit. “I hope we can sell 20,000 in the UK.”
Turning up the sales pitch, Mrs Bodner highlighted the wines’ versatility. “They are great as an aperitif, fabulous mixers and I use them in cooking with fish and chicken.”