Kosher Food and Wine Experience 2024

Taking place a few weeks ago, the 18th annual Kosher Food and Wine Experience (KFWE) took place in New Jersey. As reported previously, this year was different from previous years in that it was closed only to those in media and the industry. While it had been in New York City last year, it returned to New Jersey, where it had also taken place two years ago. Run prior to the busy sales season for kosher wine sales, KFWE is operated by Royal Wine Corporation, the largest producer of kosher wines and spirits.

KFWE 2024 was closed to only media and industry

Changes For This Year’s Event
It was certainly interesting that admission to KFWE this year was restricted only to media and industry people. This created the opportunity for those who are both in the industry and in media related to these products to more closely connect, which I enjoyed. It was also noticeable that the event did not get crowded in the final hours, as typically occurs when it is open to the general public. While this also limited the ability for the general public and/or fans of certain wineries to come taste the wines and meet the vintners, it created a more intimate atmosphere. Next year, however, it will return to being open to the public, as mentioned previously, which they plan on alternating going forward. Another change was that there was no LA event of KFWE, which they plan on bringing back for next year. An addition they made this year was having breakout sessions with four different foci. While I was tempted to attend 1-2 of them, I was enjoying the event, itself, too much to leave to attend them.

Psagot wines at KFWE 2024

Layout of the Event
In a similar fashion as to how they had the layout of the event two years ago when it was in the same venue, they had one room that was for Israeli wines, with an entirely separate room across the hallway that had wines from outside of Israel, spirits, liqueurs, and food. Just as I had enjoyed this layout two years ago, I enjoyed it again this year, as well. One of the downsides to the way that KFWE 2023 was laid out was that the spirits, wines, and liqueurs were intermingled; whereas the layout for this year’s event allowed one to focus on spirits, wines, or liqueurs.

Wines

Hajdu vermouth at KFWE 2024

After having a smattering of Israeli wines, especially Psagot, Jezreel Valley, Yatir, and Shiloh, which are always ever so delicious, I then had some American wines, including Covenant and Hajdu. It was certainly a tasty overview of wonderful kosher wines.

One product that was very excited to try this year was Jonathan Hajdu’s vermouth. Having mentioned it a couple of years ago, I was excited to see it available and taste it. I found it to be less bitter than I expected and actually an incredibly pleasant drink on its own.  I was also very glad to have been able to have a brief interview with the maker of this vermouth which is available here.

Spirits & Liqueurs
After a few hours of wines, I was ready to move on to spirits, of which I had some whiskies and tequilas. While I enjoy spirits and drink them more than wine and liqueur, I opted to limit my spirits consumption.

Jelinik brandies and liqueurs at KFWE 2024

I then moved on to tasting the Jelinek brandies, beginning with their plum brandies, better known as slivovitz. While I found the 3-year and 5-year a bit harsh, I found the 7-year to be more approachable, but the 10-year slivovitz was actually quite the treat! I also had their apricot and pear brandies, which were interesting to taste, especially since I’m not sure I have ever tasted such products. Finally, I tasted their newest products, their plum and cherry brandies, which had only been released in the past half-year, both of which were tasty treats following the spirits.

Bicerin and Vincenzi liqueurs at KFWE 2024

Continuing on in my liqueur-exploration, I moved on to the Bicerin and Vincenzi liqueurs, with which I had been so fascinated two years prior at KFWE and it only continued. The Bicerin products are always so delicious, including their sambuca and coffee liquor, amongst others, but, their white chocolate liqueur is incredible. While I drank wine following these liqueurs, it is always hard to top how incredibly delicious the Bicerin products are.

Food

sushi at KFWE 2024

While I do not go necessarily for the food, it is also hard to ignore; after all, it is in the title of the event prior to wine! While it was clearly made known that there would be food available, it would not be as extravagant as in years when it is open to the public, so I came in with grounded expectations. Wow, was the food so good! As with every year, there is sushi, which is always so delicious. If that was the only food served, I would be totally happy and that would be absolutely fine with me. But, wait, there’s more.

mindblowingly delicious kishke at KFWE 2024

They had the best kishke I have ever had in my life – it was so sweet and had a lovely consistency; I had a few of these. Look, I have had good kishke, but this kishke was also sweet and moist, as opposed to dry. It was amazing. I also had yummy gribenes – way more than I can count and definitely way more than I should be eating. I think I had my annual quota of gribenes at KFWE. There were also other food offerings, as well, including flavored beef jerky, which was very tasty, but the sushi, gribenes, and kishke were all I needed.

Connecting and Reconnecting
While I go every year to taste the wines, as well as the spirits and liqueurs, truly the highlight of KFWE and what really has me coming back every year is the people. Whether it is reconnecting with friends or meeting entirely new ones, the social aspect really elevates the KFWE experience. At some point, while the drinking remains good, I realized the opportunity to develop and forge connections is an incredibly powerful aspect of this event. One of the advantageous aspects of this year’s event being closed to the general public was the opportunity to more easily connect without having to wade through the hundreds of others who are there.

Previous guests of The Jewish Drinking Show at KFWE 2024 – Brad du Plessis, Gabriel Geller, Eli Silins, and Jacob Ner-David

When it comes to The Jewish Drinking Show, it was nice to see guests of the show in-person, such as Mendy Mark, Gabriel Geller, Jacob Ner-David, Erik Segelbaum, and Jeff Morgan. However, it was also truly a pleasure to finally meet guests of the show in-person, such as Eli Silins and Brad du Plessis.

As I was so focused on the social aspect, in addition to the tasting aspect of the show, I ended up not going to any of the four breakout sessions that they offered, which seemed quite interesting, but I was worried about the opportunity cost of going to those. However, I was glad they held them, including two of the sessions on spirits.

Closing
KFWE 2024 had a more intimate feel, perhaps even somewhat heimish, owing to it being closed to media and industry people, as well as having gribenes and kishke featured along with sushi for food. I also greatly enjoyed the division of Israeli wines separate from diasporic wineries, as well as the spirits and liqueurs being segregated, as had been done two years ago. There was also a live band performing music, which added a level of liveliness. As always, KFWE was a great experience. I am sure that this hiatus of being open to the general public will only fuel a greater thirst for the general public to attend next year. l’chaim🍷😃

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top