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Monday, February 01, 2010

Thoughts and Musings on the 2010 Kosher Restaurant & Wine Experience

Wow. We just got back from the 2010 Kosher Restaurant & Wine Experience. A relatively large a diverse kosher wine and food event (as suggested by the name), it drew one of the most diverse and interesting crowds I've seen in awhile.

I find, for whatever reason, that wine leaves a rather nasty acidic feeling in my stomach . . . so while I sit it off, I figured I'd share a few interesting observations.

On the Crowd
I've always been interested crowds. I find people, lost in the seeming anonymity of a crowd, share the most interesting and intimate views of their lives and provide an amazing commentary on the Human Condition. The crowd seemed to divide into a number of groups (in no particular order):
  • Generic Religious Jews: These were your mainstream Orthodox - Litvishe, Sefardic or MO Jews. They split into 3 groups
  1. The people who like good wine or food, but approach it with normal the Orthodox lack of class
  2. People who know very little about Wine, but think they do. They swish the wine and sniff it . . . but frankly have no clue
  3. Real Wine snobs
  • Chassidic Jews: These are your Hungarian chevra in the bekashes, full payos and hats. They split into two groups
  1. Wine industry insiders. These guys were either involved as wine merchants, production or what. All business.
  2. Heimishe Wine aficionados. These guys were young and cool. They came mit di vibe - and spoke serious wine talk . . . but instead of using words like Terroir or Brut . . . they spoke in Yiddish. 
  • Lubavitchers: We (obviously) fell in this group. I found there to be either two types - both more or less serious about their wines.
  1. The young single and recently married guys, with enough income to drop on the event - but not enough to realize that with they should really be saving their cash.
  2. Older 30 and 40 somethings with enough money to save and actually afford the event.
  • (seemingly) Non-Orthodox Jews: These guys ranged from the those who might have been very Modern Orthodox (without yarmulkes etc), the lady with the kipa, Russians . . . all the way to ultra-posh business men.
     These really knew their wine, all of them actually seemed to know what they were doing. For Exmaple they didn't quaff every cup given to them (like some of the other groups *ahem*) - instead opting for the spittoon.
  • Non Jews: There was a decent number of obviously non-Jewish guests. I've speculated their presence to be either that as friends of those attending, people specializing in Kosher wine production and selling at some point along the chain, or business partners with kosher wine drinkers. That or they could just be wine aficionados who want to try every vintage - even the kosher ones.
On the Food:
  • It's really better to eat a full meal before coming to avoid the alcoholic side effects of wine.
  • They don't give very large portions - but with a bunch of Jews, everyone took multiple servings - and seconds.
  • If you're careful  about Lubavitcher Shechita . . . there was little to eat besides Persian rice, Sushi and chips by the main restaurant booths. (In the back there was a full buffet from one of the restaurants.
On Wine:

  • The fancier the vintner, the harder it was to get the wine. I like nice wines, but I don't get them. By the easier going tables (Rashi, Bartenura and the Spanish ones) the wine experts would recommend wines and answer my questions about the wine. But at the Herzog Special Collection and the French wines . . . If I didn't name the type and Vintage I wanted - they looked askance at me for asking for "what they recommended." From the buzz, the Generation viii and Clone 6 were the best of the bunch.
  • The Wine expert Jay Buchsbaum advised that to "learn to appreciate different wine varieties -  all you have to do is drink a lot of wine." (Just a drinking lots of Coke makes distinguishing Coke from Pepsi from RC very easy).
  • 2005 was a good year for Wine in general, and the best for Israeli wine in 30 years.
On the Jewish People:
  • Boy are we fun to get together with.
  • We're more enjoyable in our diversity, yet common appreciation of one thing.
  • We take everything - I doubt people at fancy wine tasting events everyone leaves with their tasting cups, and a plate of the cookies at the nosh table, and the left over salsa and . . . 

Now for a general comment. I've been around wine production a number of times - I even had a crash-course on wine tasting before. I may not have developed a refined taste for it like I have for other things (coffee, beer, Scotch whiskey), but I can appreciate it. To be frank, however, Wine Aficionados are jerks.

People have called me a beer snob - I probably am one . . . but there are a number of differences between Beer Snobs ans Wine Aficionados:
  • Wine Aficionados think that they are better then the common wine quaffer. Beer Snobs only think the beer they drink is better then Joe Sixpack's brewsky.
  • Wine Aficionados often can't stand other alcoholic drinks. Beer Snobs can appreciate a fine Scotch or quality wine.
  • Drinking wine comes along with a snooty and snobby culture. Beer drinkers tend to be earthier folk.
  • Beers can go well with Pizza, Burgers, Corn chips - or a Rack of lamb, chicken a la diable, chocolate cake or, brie. I just don't see anyone chasing wine with chips and salsa . . . 
A good time it was - but I'll be coveting my Ithaca Excelsior! Twelve Quadruple over my Yardein Merlot 2003.
(The best moment of the evening was when I told a wine loving friend of mine that I knew where in Brooklyn to get my hands on a Pliny the Elder!)

Over all a great experience.

(Image Source)

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Anonymous said...

Good Stuff....


moishe said...

mottel go back to sleep


Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

watching the Lubabs - via pics on Collive - pack it in there was a bit embarrassing for me

not what you expect of a ideology that used to speak about Iskafya a lot...

Mottel said...

-Duds: I'm sure you would have liked it.

-Moishe: Thanks

-Tzig: You definitely have a point - while I personally may make the stretch that occasionally eating out is not a total lack of iskafya based on the needs of the generation (in so much as the fact that while previously R' Nissan could monn not putting butter on the bread - today lav davka is spreading the butter such a grubkeit. (agav Hirshy Fellig from LA remembers when he first went to Brunoy R' Nissan saw a bottle of coke on a bochurs desk and felt compelled to farbreng with the bochurim about iskafya - today we serve the coke by the farbrengin)), by this event, however, there was doubt that people were there to be zolel v'sovei.

That being said there are two limudei zchus -

1) It's a trade-show, and those there wanted to find wines for their stores (as I know for a fact several of the people there had come for that express reason)

2)I myself have little interest in having a bottle of wine, even a great one, outside of a shabbos meal (besides forthe rare meal at a restaurant) - I'm sure many of those who went wanted to find a vino that would enhance their shabbos tish.