Founded by the late Daniel Rogov, focusing primarily on wines that are either kosher or Israeli.
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Andrew B

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Jezebel: How does it work?

by Andrew B » Mon Dec 10, 2012 8:51 pm

There is a new restaurant where they are able to serve non-mevushal wines, which has thusfar not taken place in the vast majority of kosher restaurants around the world. My question is, what is the protocol or procedure that takes place in the restaurant that distinguishes their wine service from other kosher eateries? This is not meant as a question of Jewish law, but rather out of curiosity to find out how they are doing it.
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Gabriel Geller

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Re: Jezebel: How does it work?

by Gabriel Geller » Mon Dec 10, 2012 9:02 pm

Actually many kosher restaurants don't have any issue with featuring non-mevushal wines on their menu. 99% of the restaurants in Israel serve non-mevushal wines given that the waiters are almost always jewish. And if they are not jewish nor shabbat/mitzvot observants or if that's something a customer is adamant about, one can always ask to open the bottle him/herself. Same goes at most kosher restaurants in Paris, London or Prague. So bottom line: mevushal wines seem to be essentially the obsession of american kashrut organizations...
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Re: Jezebel: How does it work?

by Mark Lieser » Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:34 pm

Gabriel:

I have to disagree with you on one issue. As you know, I just got back from a week in London. In addition to the mediocre dining options, the wines offered at what I would consider the "fancier" restaurants were almost all mevushal. (And as we discussed, BAD mevushal, at that.)

As to the other cities, I defer to your experience and expertise. (At least until the next vacation.)

Mark
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Re: Jezebel: How does it work?

by Yossie Horwitz » Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:42 pm

It depends on the stingency of the supervising organization. I consulted on the wine list and have some details on how the kashrut works. PM me if you want more details.
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Re: Jezebel: How does it work?

by Andrew B » Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:08 pm

I just wanted an idea of what the wine service is like since it must be different than other establishments. It can't be a secret, as they are obviously doing it openly.
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Re: Jezebel: How does it work?

by David Raccah » Tue Dec 11, 2012 2:57 am

Not so openly actually! In the end, Shallots in Chicago also has non- mevushal wine service, but mostly under the table. If you want to know how it works best, look at Israel. There the OU and the OK allow for non-mevushal wine to be served by a religious person. The problem with that plan and why the OU will NEVER allow it in the US, is that they do not know who is at your table. Jewish or not? If not, they do not want the headache of guessing if the wine just poured is not undrinkable, because your non-jewish friend touched it.

As I am typing this, I know this will be another fire storm and the such. So, as Yossie said, PM is the best route - simply because I do not think this particular subject is best discussed here on the forum. Better in email or person over the phone, my 2 cents...

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Re: Jezebel: How does it work?

by Gabriel W » Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:33 am

David Raccah wrote:Not so openly actually! In the end, Shallots in Chicago also has non- mevushal wine service, but mostly under the table. If you want to know how it works best, look at Israel. There the OU and the OK allow for non-mevushal wine to be served by a religious person. The problem with that plan and why the OU will NEVER allow it in the US, is that they do not know who is at your table. Jewish or not? If not, they do not want the headache of guessing if the wine just poured is not undrinkable, because your non-jewish friend touched it.

As I am typing this, I know this will be another fire storm and the such. So, as Yossie said, PM is the best route - simply because I do not think this particular subject is best discussed here on the forum. Better in email or person over the phone, my 2 cents...

David


Firestorm? Yeah! It is Chanukah, time to wage war!
It's all pretty ridiculous. I have studied the issue quite a bit. Yes, I'm biased against not-mevushal but I have yet to make sense of the subject. If the rules allow for it in Israel then maybe the American Kashrut organizations should reconsider their stance instead of playing superhero when it comes to wine. To put it in a nutshell: If the Rabbis were into fine wine the way they're into fine food and were brave enough to change the system to accommodate not mevushal it would happen. It's so pathetic to walk into all these kosher restaurants trying to play haute-cuisine and charging as such and there at best is maybe a half decent wine selection.
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Re: Jezebel: How does it work?

by Adam M » Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:04 am

I agree with Gabriel

Mark - when I travel to London, I dine at Bevis Marks and Reuben's, both of which have plenty of non-Mev wines on their menu (including Yarden, Yatir, Castel and Recanati), on par with just about anywhere else. And at Reuben's the wine is actually not terribly expensive.

The system at Jezebel is unique to US restaurants with respected kashrut observation. The mashgiach handles the wine at all times, including opening and pouring. Customers can't pour their own non-MeV wines, and the wait staff can't get near the bottle. The particular kashrut authority that observes the restaurant (dont have the name handy) is highly respected, but not very common relative to the OU and OK. I applaud it for going out on a limb and permitting this system. I hope it will serve as a model for the OU, OK and others.
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Re: Jezebel: How does it work?

by Yossie Horwitz » Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:25 pm

Jezebel's kosher supervision is bifurcated with one supervision for the food and another for the wine (which is done how Adam explained - the wine is only touched by the kashrut supervisor and when not being poured is stored in a closed Lucite box on the bar). For more details:

http://jezebelsoho.com/kosher.html
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Re: Jezebel: How does it work?

by Andrew B » Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:30 pm

Thanks for the info. Seems straightforward enough. I'm sure most restaurants can't afford a dedicated wine mashgiach. As far as Shallots goes, I believe their non-mevu service is on a "need to know" basis.
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Re: Jezebel: How does it work?

by Steven B » Tue Dec 11, 2012 3:26 pm

I believe part of the concern is that many American kosher consumers may not be so cognizant of the mevushal vs. non mevushal differences in Jewish law. And even if they are they may not be thinking about it when they order. The kashrus agencies are afraid that a kosher consumer will order a non-mevushal wine with a non-religious friend or co-worker at the table. And you can't really write "don't order if your with non-religous people" on the menu. Additionally, the restaurant would have to assume that all wine left in the glasses is now non-kosher and would have to be washed separately with cold water. That could get fairly complicated to keep track of.
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Re: Jezebel: How does it work?

by Adam M » Tue Dec 11, 2012 3:41 pm

I've heard all of these arguments before, but I am utterly unpersuaded as these concerns can simply be address by having the waiter provide a quick disclaimer with all relevant details to the guests upon the receipt of an order for non-mev wine. Kind of like the spiel you get when you sit in an exit row seat on an airplane. :)
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Re: Jezebel: How does it work?

by Steven B » Tue Dec 11, 2012 3:46 pm

Adam M wrote:I've heard all of these arguments before, but I am utterly unpersuaded as these concerns can simply be address by having the waiter provide a quick disclaimer with all relevant details to the guests upon the receipt of an order for non-mev wine. Kind of like the spiel you get when you sit in an exit row seat on an airplane. :)


If you are in a restaurant with non-Jewish coworkers it can be quite embarrassing if the waiter comes out and says that only the religious Jews at the table may touch the wine.
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Re: Jezebel: How does it work?

by Adam M » Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:02 pm

This should be a manageable issue. For example, a prominent and conspicuous legend in the wine menu should go a long way. Also, I think the point is to put the Jewish patron on notice of the issue, not make the decision for him or her. This can easily be done in a tasteful and non-embarrassing manner. Face with this choice, if I were a Kosher restaurant-owner I would easily take this risk from a cost-benefit perspective.
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Re: Jezebel: How does it work?

by Gabriel Geller » Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:31 pm

I'm sorry but I still don't get it, sounds quite ridiculous to me. :roll: If even some of the restaurants here in Israel with the strictest Mehadrin hashgacha have non-mev' wines on their menu and allow their patrons to open the bottle and pour themselves the wine if they like, regardless of who is seated at the table, why would that be such a headache in the US? I don't think (but I'm not a rabbi) that non jewish/religious-"touched" wine affects the kashrut of either/both the glasses or the dishwasher the same way non-kosher food does. This sounds really crazy. :| I will try to remember and ask my friend about this madness tomorrow, he is a mashgiach here for Badatz Agudas Yisroel that provides the very "best" hashgacha to a few restaurants in Jerusalem.
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Re: Jezebel: How does it work?

by Andrew B » Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:54 pm

Whatever the issues of Jewish law may be, the bottom line is it will be a long and slow process before anything changes in the USA. We'll see how it goes at Jezebel and if it works out, I'm sure other agencies will be able to accomodate the demand.
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Re: Jezebel: How does it work?

by Michael P » Tue Dec 11, 2012 5:37 pm

This topic has been discussed many times before. For me, at home I almost exclusively drink non-mevushal wines. But at restaurants I really like the current system. Sure, I can't drink the finest wines, but I can sleep easy knowing that the wine I'm drinking is acceptable. Sadly, even the best kosher restaurants experience order confusion, busboy confusion and the occasional mix-up. The current system in place at Jezebel is fraught with risk, uncertainty and virtually untested in large scale. I'm not suggesting it cannot work, but for a Kashrut organization to stake its logo on the system, I frankly understand the hesitancy.

I also disagree with Gabriel, and having some first hand knowledge that the concern amongst some of the agencies is primarily Kashrut and not politics. I think its possible that some organizations lacked the information about finer wines, but that's changed. Some of the issues Steven pointed out are accurate, especially when a restaurant is running at full capacity with a waiter/staff well overwhelmed. Finally, I'd note that some restaurant proprietors rank profits ahead of Kashrut adding to the risks of serving non-mevushal wine.
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Re: Jezebel: How does it work?

by Bill Coleman » Tue Dec 11, 2012 11:47 pm

David Raccah wrote:Not so openly actually! In the end, Shallots in Chicago also has non- mevushal wine service, but mostly under the table. If you want to know how it works best, look at Israel. There the OU and the OK allow for non-mevushal wine to be served by a religious person. The problem with that plan and why the OU will NEVER allow it in the US, is that they do not know who is at your table. Jewish or not? If not, they do not want the headache of guessing if the wine just poured is not undrinkable, because your non-jewish friend touched it.

As I am typing this, I know this will be another fire storm and the such. So, as Yossie said, PM is the best route - simply because I do not think this particular subject is best discussed here on the forum. Better in email or person over the phone, my 2 cents...

David


It was only slightly under the table. The non-mevushal wines were not on the menu but could be ordered quite openly and were handled strictly by the restaurant manager, who was observant. He was also the wine maven. I'm using the past tense because Meyer retired and, the last time I was there, it wasn't clear what was going on with the wines.
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Re: Jezebel: How does it work?

by Andrew B » Wed Dec 12, 2012 1:09 am

Bill Coleman wrote: The non-mevushal wines were not on the menu but could be ordered quite openly and were handled strictly by the restaurant manager, who was observant. He was also the wine maven. I'm using the past tense because Meyer retired and, the last time I was there, it wasn't clear what was going on with the wines.


Bill, any idea what he's up to now? So, no more high end bottle service at Shallots?
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Re: Jezebel: How does it work?

by Bill Coleman » Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:05 am

Andrew Breskin wrote:
Bill Coleman wrote: The non-mevushal wines were not on the menu but could be ordered quite openly and were handled strictly by the restaurant manager, who was observant. He was also the wine maven. I'm using the past tense because Meyer retired and, the last time I was there, it wasn't clear what was going on with the wines.


Bill, any idea what he's up to now? So, no more high end bottle service at Shallots?

Meyer was married in August and took a job allowing him to be home by 9PM to be with his kallah. As for the wine situation at Shallot's, I'm really not sure. It isn't clear to me whether Sam intends to step up to the vinological plate or not.
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Re: Jezebel: How does it work?

by Elie Poltorak » Mon Dec 17, 2012 12:45 am

I'm late to the party, but I have to take issue with many of the things written here.

1. I'm really surprised at the attitude some have expressed here as if the hashgachot were in some sort of conspiracy to prevent the serving of non-mevushal wine. That is simply ridiculous. The fact is that we wouldn't be very pleased if they did allow such wine and caused us to drink non-kosher wine as a result G-d forbid as a result of inadequate safeguards.

2. Putting glasses with traces of non-mevushal wine handled by a non-Jew or someone who isn't shomer shabbat (including the bus-boy who gathers the dirty glasses) in a dishwasher with hot water would be exactly the same as putting in plates with bacon grease (at least from the l'chatchila (a priori) perspective; b'dieved (ex post facto) certain leniencies may apply in terms of the lesser quantity needed for bitul (nulification) etc., but that's way beyond the scope). Luckily, this isn't much of an issue as glasses are typically hand-washed at restaurants at temperatures below yad soledes.

3. Surprisingly, no one has mentioned the real issue with serving non-mevushal wine in restaurants here in the U.S.: non-Jewish or non-observant serving staff, who can move a glass in order to make room for a plate they are trying to place on the table, thereby rendering the wine non-kosher. Israeli restaurants with reliable hashgachot that allow non-mevushal wines typically have observant waiters and only the waiters are allowed to move things around on the table, thereby preventing any contact between non-Jewish staff (often Arab bussers) and wine.

4. As it happens, I know that one of the largest, most respected supervising agencies in the U.S. was approached a number of years ago about serving non-mevu wines at a new restaurant. After consulting with leading poskim (rabbinic decisors), they agreed and set up a set of guidelines to avoid any problems. Unfortunately, the restaurant's proprietor decided it wasn't worth the trouble and gave up. Similarly, a trendy restaurant that opened in the past several years with the same supervision was supposed to serve non-mevu wines after a training period, during which only mevushal wines were served. Unfortunately, the demand for non-mevu just wasn't there and the restauranteur decided to just stick with the mevushal offerings and avoid the headache. I have no idea why Jezebel went with the split supervision--perhaps they only approached one national hashgocho and were told it was against policy so they assumed the other hashgachot have the same policy. Or maybe the supervision they obtained for the wine is more lax and didn't require as many safeguards. Of course that's just speculation as I have no clue. I will ask the wine mashgiach/sommelier next time I see him.
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Re: Jezebel: How does it work?

by Yossie Horwitz » Tue Feb 19, 2013 3:25 pm

Just as a follow up, it is now official that Jezebel is going to be using OU supervision from here on out and, as a requirement of the OU, they are changing the name to J Soho and losing the non-mevushal wines. Once again, silly stringencies masquerading as Jewish Law, deprive the kosher consumer of the ability to enjoy the growing abundance of quality kosher wine with the ever-increasing quality of kosher cuisine...
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Re: Jezebel: How does it work?

by Gabriel Geller » Tue Feb 19, 2013 5:47 pm

That fairy tale didn't last long...
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Re: Jezebel: How does it work?

by lewis.pasco » Tue Feb 19, 2013 6:17 pm

Ellie - what on earth would be wrong with allowing both Kosher mevushal and non-mevushal wines on the wine list so long as the list explicitly stated the "M" or not for each offering? And letting the customer decide whether mevushal was critical for him/her or not?

In a world of modern Judaism, observing one Hashem, but yet entertaining that there are multiple types and levels of kosher and hashgaot, it seems reasonable enough that the customer could decide for him or herself whether Mevushal is critical or not. Just as that same customer decides what Hecsher is enough or important...
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