Beyond the Vines: Kiddush Kup Wines
There is a legend among kosher wine aficionados, and people in the kosher wine business, about the time that Herzog Wine Company invited a group of kosher wine sellers to their headquarters in California—where they produce their wines harvested from the hills of the golden state—for a wine summit. At that event, the participants took part in a “blind tasting” challenge, in which they would sniff and sip a glass of wine, not knowing the label, vintage, etc., and would need to guess the price of that wine.
The winner of that challenge was Yossi Freund, proprietor of Kiddush Kup—a legendary wine establishment in Boro Park, in business for decades. For years it stood at 5105 16th Avenue, adjacent to the famed Lakeood Minyan. Recently it moved across the street to bigger quarters, where Yossi ensures that every buyer is paired with a good bottle, in accordance with his palate and his pocket.
In advance of Pesach, when wine takes such a central place—even more than the rest of the year, when we appreciate it on Shabbos and Yom Tov—BP24 sat down with Yossi, for whom this is not just a business, but a passion.
He recalls developing a taste for wine; “My first bottle was a Chateneuff, in the 1980’s. It was a semi-sweet wine. Then came Baron Rothschild, and Gan Eden, from California...it was a slow process… and the rest is history.”
Yossi speaks of the explosion of the kosher wine market—from his vantage point on 16th Avenue, the center of Boro Park. “What we have seen over the last decade is incredible. The largest growth has been from Israel, but really every winemaking region in the world has been adding kosher labels at a breathtaking pace—and this speaks to the evolving palate of the kosher consumer; they are filling the demand.”
France is probably still considered the most prestigious, but Eretz Yisroel has been a winemaking region for thousands of years, and they are fast catching up. Wine critics are marveling at what is coming out of Israel, and they are awarding them some of the most prestigious awards in the industry.
About the ‘wine journey’ of his customers, he notes, “It’s interesting to watch the evolution in action: Some will start off having tasted a really good bottle at a simcha, and they become hooked… and some evolve gradually.”
Wine ranges in price, based on a number of factors. “The most expensive bottle in the store (out of the box; Yossi also ages bottles, which will go for a lot higher) is about $500. But you can get a great bottle for $20 too! Wine is an extremely versatile thing, and really varies on so many factors,” Yossi explains.
Choice of wine for the four kossos is a fine balance: One one hand we want to honor each kos, its own mitzvah. At the same time, we want to be awake for the entire Seder! It’s a question you may want to ask Yossi in person, and he is certain to load you up with all of your Yom Tov spirits (below is a video of some of Yossi’s recommendations for each of the kosos).
Wishing all of our readers a Chag Kosher V’samei’ach, and that their cups overflow with joy.
“Beyond the…” series is a special project of BP24. Comments may be emailed to [email protected]