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A few years ago, on a visit to Montreal, a friend invited me for Shabbat dinner. “Bring wine,” he said.In Montreal, all wine must be sold in Société des Alcools de Quebec-owned stores, but the nearest SAQ shop had only one shelf of kosher wine, and only two types of wine on it: Kedem Red or Kedem Chablis. I phoned my friend and got the address of a kosher supermarket, hoping that it would have something a little less Kedemy.

An elderly Hasidic man working the register told me that the supermarket didn’t carry wine. “Did you try the SAQ?” he asked. I walked up the grocery aisle in search of a different dinner gift, maybe a babka or box of cookies, when someone whispered me over. One of the bag boys, a pimply teenager in a yarmulke, was standing in the shadow of a towering wall of matzo meal products.

“Look,” he said. “There’s a place you can go.” He handed me a card with an address and phone number and stepped back into the darkness.

The address belonged to a small synagogue in the middle of a quiet, residential block. I called the number on the card, and a Hasidic man walked out from a side-entrance to greet me.

“You Jewish?” he asked.

I nodded solemnly.

“OK.”

He led me into the side entrance, through several doors and hallways, and down into a basement filled with empty wooden wine crates. I waited for a few minutes until a different man brought me through one last door, into a small room crowded with Hasidic men. Lining the wall was the single best selection of kosher wine I’d ever seen. “Can I make a recommendation?” the shop-keep asked and held out a nice-looking Cabernet.

Tablet Mag

 

It is a two page article. I hope you enjoy it.

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