Thursday, February 11, 2021

World’s Largest Kosher Food And Wine Event Moves To Online Format

This year’s premier kosher wine event is moving to cyberspace.


Sipping Wine Digitally

Gabriel Geller is one of a handful kosher wine professionals and one of an even smaller number not located in Israel. Geller is a sommelier and the director of public relations and client services for Royal Wine Corp., a leading producer, importer, and distributor of kosher wines. His life has gotten very interesting lately.

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Royal Wine hosts the Kosher Food & Wine Experience, the world’s largest kosher food and wine event. It’s usually held in New York City and other major metropolises. Due to the pandemic, the event has morphed to the Kosher Food & Wine Virtual Experience. Right in the midst of the hectic change of plans is Geller, who not only works behind the scenes with wineries to produce videos and oversees the editing and production of the tasting guide, he is a front-line participant in the online show itself.

Gabriel Geller“It’s not going to be the same at all,” said Geller in an interview with Vino-Sphere, “but we will be able to capture the essence of sharing and tasting wine together. We have very interesting wines from each region.”

This year participants can purchase a tasting kit which features 25 different wines and there is no cost to stream the event. “Having just 25 wines allows us to focus in a different way,” said Geller. “Winemakers will get 100% of everyone’s attention to talk about their wines. People will enjoy it, but this will not be as much about networking and socializing. It will be more about the wine and food itself. We’ll also have some education and entertainment.”

Kosher Wines Now Span The World

Royal Wine has led the way in sharing the story of quality kosher wines, which is in contrast to the image of poor quality in the past. “Unless you are one of those who regularly drink kosher wine, you may have the wrong perception,” said Geller. He said memories of sweet and poorly made kosher wine are far from today’s reality.

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There are more than 4,000 different kosher wines produced. A quick online search will yield a plethora of results and many online retailers to fill the need.“It’s all about exposure,” he said. “Kosher wines are produced in every possible region including New Zealand, Italy, Spain, California, and France. It’s no different than other wine, just a certification.”

While kosher wines span the globe it has been made the longest in Israel, which has a winemaking tradition that dates back thousands of years. The modern era of Israeli winemaking began in the late 19th century when the Carmel Winery was established and produced sweet kosher wines.

Kosher wines from Argentina, France, and CaliforniaIt wasn’t until the 1980s when the wine industry really took flight. Today there is a burgeoning wine industry with about 300 wine producers ranging from tiny garagiste winemakers to major international brands. Israeli wines are routinely represented on lists of wine garnering ratings of 90 points or above.

Bottles Enjoyed Together Are Now Enjoyed Apart

The COVID pandemic has affected every fiber of society, including the ability to gather for important holidays. “It’s been challenging on an emotional level, especially Passover,” said Geller. “It was very difficult last year, hopefully less so this year. As people get vaccines they may feel safer. It is difficult, not being able to get together with old friends and distant relatives. Bottles we used to enjoy together are now enjoyed apart.”

There is no cost to tune in to the Kosher Food & Wine Virtual Experience, which is scheduled for February 21. Simply go to the website and download a free ticket to get the link. The event will feature wine education and guided tastings with winemakers from some of the most prestigious wineries in Israel, France, Spain, California, Italy, and Argentina. The tasting kit costs $250 and includes 25 100ml bottles covering each of the wines featured during the program. That’s enough for two or three pours. A tasting guide is also provided.

The food component won’t be overlooked. Throughout the night, there will be cook-along demonstrations. Viewers will be able to download detailed recipe cards with shopping lists and prep instructions  to cook with the chefs, friends, and family in real-time. Featured will be Chef Gabe Garcia of Tierra Sur, Personalities, and celebrity chef and James Beard Award Winner Michael Solomonov, owner of various restaurants in Philadelphia with a focus on Israeli cuisine.

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