The Tastemakers
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The Tastemakers

Meet the judges whose discerning palates pick The Jewish Week’s Top 18 Kosher Wines Competition.

Herman Allenson

Herman Allenson joined the Barcelona Stamford restaurant after spending 12 years in the New York City restaurant scene, bringing with him experience in varied venues. While at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., Allenson first began working at the critically acclaimed fine-dining restaurant, The Frog and the Peach, where he developed a passion for food and wine. He then studied at the Manhattan branch of the London-based Wine & Spirit Education Trust. He managed and held the position of wine director at Prime Grill and Solo restaurants; at Solo, he also helped design and consult in expanding the brand in other locations. He has catered to the cosmopolitan clientele at the exclusive Soho House in the Meatpacking district. After Soho House, he moved on to the Connecticut-based restaurant group, Barcelona Tapas and Wine Bar, where he held the position of opening general manager, launching restaurants up and down the East Coast.

Michael Gelven

Michael Gelven is a lifelong wine industry veteran who likes to say that every working day of his life has been in the wine industry — first as a retailer, then an importer and distributor. Currently he is a principal in a direct-to-consumer wine club and a direct-to-consumer consulting company that works with wineries in developing their direct-to-consumer sales within the U.S. market. Gelven is also a certified wine judge, judging at the California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition and the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition in addition to the Jewish Week Kosher Wine Competition.

Yossie Horwitz

Growing up in a tee-totaling household in Jerusalem — “my father maybe drank a shot of amaretto per year,” he recalls — Yossie Horwitz didn’t have much early exposure to wine. That all changed one night when, as a teenager, Horwitz’s palate was astonished by a kosher Bordeaux that some family friends brought to a seder dinner. A lifelong passion was stoked: Horwitz began attending wine tastings and winery tours around Israel, educating himself on what he liked. By the time he was 30 and had moved to New York City, Horwitz was penning a weekly email blast to family and friends in which he shared his favorite bottles. Today, “Yossie’s Corkboard” goes out to 4,000 subscribers, keeping this corporate attorney-by-day quite busy. This is Horwitz’s fifth year tasting wines for The Jewish Week. @yossieuncorked/yossiescorkboard.com

Joshua London

Joshua London has been drinking, writing, consulting and speaking professionally about kosher wines and spirits for more than 15 years. Originally from northern California, London’s love affair with wine began in the late-1980s with a relatively short-lived kosher wine venture in Davis, Calif. Besides being a frequent contributor to The Jewish Week, London writes a weekly kosher wine and spirits column for the Washington Jewish Week (which is frequently reprinted in more than a dozen other Jewish publications), and his writing has appeared in a wide variety of both Jewish and non-Jewish print and online media. A highly sought after public speaker, London has also become popular on the Passover circuit with his tutored tastings and spirits education and appreciation programs. A D.C. lobbyist by day and a kosher wine and spirits aficionado by night, London is also the author of an unrelated slice of American history: “Victory in Tripoli: How America’s War with the Barbary Pirates Established the U.S. Navy and Shaped a Nation” (John Wiley & Sons, 2005).

Miriam Morgenstern

Miriam Morgenstern is vice president and associate publisher of Wine Spectator magazine, considered the world’s most respected and authoritative publications on wine and wine lifestyle. Morgenstern continues to educate her palate and has a WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) advanced certificate degree in wine and spirits. In her spare time, she teaches and hosts wine-tasting classes for friends and charities.

Alison Nathan

Alison Nathan knows from kosher food: working alongside her husband, Jeff Nathan, at Abigael’s on Broadway, the nation’s largest kosher restaurant, she directs both guest services as well as promotions. Nathan’s interest in food blossomed at an early age: as a teenager, she made a habit of cooking dinner for her family, and eventually chose a professional track, graduating from the Johnson & Wales culinary school in Rhode Island. She then found work as a line cook at Soho’s New Deal Restaurant, where she met her husband and future business partner Jeff. After becoming a mother, Nathan transitioned to the front of the house at New Deal, and in her duties as the restaurant’s manager she expanded on the wine knowledge she had obtained in culinary school. Nathan is also a food writer and recipe developer. Even among all these achievements, “one of my career highlights is to be a part of The Jewish Week wine judging panel,” she said. @chefjeffabg/ abigaels.com

Aron Ritter

When Aron Ritter founded the Kosher Wine Society in 2005, he was responding to a hole he saw in the wine marketplace: tasting events for kosher wines. An amateur wine drinker whose passion for the fruit of the vine was steadily increasing, Ritter had looked for tasting events to attend, with no luck. “There was nothing for kosher wine,” he recalls. The first KWS tasting was attended by only about 20 or so friends, but by the time of the group’s second event, a collaboration with Israeli winery Recanati, membership had swelled to about 70, and has only grown from there. Today, Ritter devotes his little free time — he currently works at Citibank — to KWS, hosting several events a year, including the society’s well-loved “New Wines for the New Year,” timed to provide recommendations for Rosh HaShanah wines. @koshwinesociety/ kosherwinesociety.com

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