When I was in my 20s, I lived in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Neighbors on Q Street happened to be two young men named Joshua London and Gamliel Kronemer. Josh had gone to grad school with my brother in Chicago, and I met Gamliel either at shul or a Shabbat meal. Josh was already writing a wine and spirits column for the weekend print section of The Washington Examiner, and Gamliel began writing about wine a few years later, adding spirits to his repertoire in special issues around Rosh Hashanah and Pesach. Both began writing regular columns for Jewish newspapers later on. I was working as a reporter, but didn’t start writing about food and wine until many years after we all met.
With “Josh and G,” I first tasted good-to-great kosher wines and attended my first blind wine tasting. Gamliel, I learned only recently, was the culprit in sneaking in a bottle of Manschewitz concord grape into that tasting, siphoning the syrupy-sweet (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) liquid into a “regular” 750 ml wine bottle.
It was with these two that I learned how to talk about wine and distinguish wine’s unique qualities. These were people to whom I could ask all my dumb questions, and there were many! My questions may have improved over the years, but I would not be the oenophile I am today without having access to their great caches of knowledge and willingness to chat, at virtually any time, about kosher wine.
Along the way, we built many shared memories and became great friends. I was proud to have both Josh and Gamliel serve as witnesses at my wedding, and it’s been my pleasure over the years to count Anna and Jessica, the guys’ better halves, as close friends as well.
Josh is currently living in England; Gamliel lives in Silver Spring, Maryland; and I live in New Jersey. However, when Gamliel suggested that we “get the band back together,” with me editing an inaugural edition of The Jewish Link Wine Guide and them writing many of the feature articles, I jumped at a chance to work with these old friends, both consummate professionals. In my opinion, they are among the kosher wine industry’s most enthusiastic and impartial advocates. I am very fortunate to have Moshe Kinderlehrer as a publisher, who also was happy to devote resources to our launching of the magazine.
While the incisive features are certainly a point of pride for The Jewish Link Wine Guide, it was actually the tastings of wines for our rankings that were most complex. Running blind wine tastings during a pandemic, in the dead of a very cold East Coast winter, was no easy feat. It helped that we had five committed judges based in New Jersey: Yossie Horwitz, Jeff Katz, Greg Raykher, Daphna Roth and Yeruchum Rosenberg, who were willing to lend us their discerning palates whenever and however we arranged it. Yossie, who previously was a founding judge for The Jewish Week’s Wine Guide magazines, was an immeasurable resource in both designing the protocol for our blind tastings, and modeling impartial judging policies. Michal Rosenberg, our managing editor, was pivotal in organizing the tastings and tabulating the results; and we could not have done it without Eva Katz (Jeff’s better half), who assisted us greatly with logistics.
By the numbers, here’s how we ended up: Two extremely cold outdoor tastings, two quarantines, two socially-distanced indoor tastings, one (mild) case of COVID, one canceled wine tasting due to a blizzard, 267 wines, 63 whites, 204 reds, hundreds of WhatsApps and emails…well, you get the idea.
With that in mind, we are proud to present four Top 25 lists for your Passover shopping pleasure. To befit the season’s affinity for reds during the seder, and to be cost-conscious, we divided the lists into “Under $25 Reds,” “$25-$50 Reds,” “High-End Reds” and “White Wines.” These are augmented by Josh London’s Top 10 list of sweet wines, Gamliel Kronemer’s Top 10 of sparkling wines, Michal Rosenberg’s write up of The Jewish Link Wine Guide’s top five wineries of the year, my “special wines for the seder,” article, Yossie Horwitz's ode to Champagne and Dr. Kenneth Friedman’s feature preview on 2020 rosé wines.With our very best wishes,
Chag Kasher V’Samayach!
By Elizabeth Kratz