Gabriel, funny, but I actually usually prefer the Golan Moscato to the Bartenura Moscato d'Asti, and at times have preferred the Carmel Moscato to both. I presume this is a vintage variation thing. I really like Moscato, I just don't think of it as wine in the normal sense -- more like a slightly alcoholic seltzer for a hot day (I usually drink it with ice). Though, within a two or three dollar variance, I buy Moscato by price and around here the Bartenura Moscato has seemingly gotten more and more expensive relative to the competition. I now drink the Bartenura only when brought by guests (though I do enjoy it).
Dan, you make great points. I wonder, though, if wine web forums, wine blogs or facebook wine tastings will make a huge difference on the larger marketplace. Its a good start, don't get me wrong, and presumably would/should be good fun for all involved, but it remains very self-selecting and time consuming.
I don't have any great alternatives, though I still firmly believe in the old fashioned role of wine retailers to help cater to and actually cultivate their clientele, serving, in a sense, as editor or guide for wine shopping. The model still lives on, at times and in some places, but even still requires desire by the customer for help or advice. There are still too many consumers, especially kosher consumers, who are only interested in price-point within the categories of red and white, and sweet and dry. On top of which, most retailers are not looking to play this role beyond shifting stock. Particularly in busy locations, where customers come and go and no rapport is attempted, much less built and maintained.
If I walk into a wine shop and see shelf-talkers, for example, my heart sinks a little. It doesn't mean the proprietor is absolutely bad or lazy or doesn't care about cultivating clients, but it is - to me - an indication, however slight, that the proprietor has forfeited their rightful place in the market. I will usually still try to engage them in conversation, but I can usually tell immediately if they are honest, interested and knowledgeable about their own stock - or not. Usually not these days.
There is a local wine store/wine bar in my area that has a very decent selection of kosher wines that are found in their regional or typicity shelves -- e.g., an Aussie kosher Shiraz will only be found next to the other Aussie Shiraz wines. There is no kosher shelf or section and nothing denoting kosher other than the label. Most kosher consumers complain, though they are slowly, slowly, building up a base who "get it". The approach of the store is that their wine shelves are easy to navigate, but if a customer is looking for something specific, they need only ask one of the helpful and knowledgeable members of staff. Ask for a kosher Cabernet Sauvignon, and they'll ask, if you have a regional preference? A preferred price range? Mevushal or non mevushal requirements, etc.? They ask, they listen patiently and they respond. It is more of a conversation driven approach. Customers who come and refuse to chat, are welcome to peruse or hunt; those in a hurry and handled expeditiously. Best I can tell, the staff all know enough of what the various kosher terms and designations mean, and why their buyer/manager has chosen this or that brand or label relative to another. On occasion, when I've asked for something they don't have from a winery that they do to stock (e.g., they have some GHW wines, but obviously not all types within each label) they will either order it for me, explain why they can't get it from their distributor, or maybe tell me that they didn't buy it for a reason (bad QPR, inconsistent relative quality, etc.) and will suggest I try something else. [In my own case, it helps that when I see their buyer in NY at the Royal Wine trade tasting we can chat openly and he gives me a sense of what he buys and why, and I have a sense of where his own tastes trend.] But I digress...
One can only hope that, over time, the situation improves. Certainly all educational efforts are worth a try.
Isaac, I think you are right about the tone, and I apologize unreservedly if I've contributed to that aspect of it. Though I'm a wine geek (or maybe just a geek who drinks wine, since I tend to approach everything that interests me in the same way), I recoil from wine snobbery (all snobbery really). There is a clear distinction to be drawn between knowledge and ignorance, not in the sense of class (that those with knowledge are better than those without), but in the sense of thoughtfulness. I engage in this forum, for example, not to strut my stuff (since I have very little to strut) or otherwise pat myself on the back for being a swell guy, but because of my own sense of inquisitiveness, and the enjoyment I get from informed discourse. I refuse to run from the language of value judgements, because I do think their is something bad or inferior about a lack of inquisitiveness -- not a lack of knowledge. We all gotta start somewhere. Even Robert Parker at one time knew NOTHING about wine, even well into his then amateur newsletter efforts. Folks who are not interested in wine knowledge are probably not reading this web forum anyway.
As to your other point, for sure, kiddush is driving this train, and the market is still under the sway of those memories and/or that nostalgia and/or that preference for sweet kiddush wine and/or simply chugging kiddush wine quickly before the enjoyment of the meal commences. This is presumably the predominant purchasing power, but there is no reason why this picture must remain static. I fondly recall, as a child, my father, a"h, making kiddush on the usual sweet kiddush wine while the rest of all pulled faces, before better wines, like Gan Eden or Hagafen (after it switched hashgachas), were brought to the table to be enjoyed with the actual meal. My father grew up with sweet kiddush wine for kiddush, and so preferred it for that purpose.