• By: Ali Matthews

A Capital-to-Capital Wine and Cheese Pairing

All photos by Ali Matthews.

When you think of Israel, wine is not typically the first thing that comes to mind. However, the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee (CJPAC) and Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) are using Israeli wines to not only educate decision-makers, but also strengthen Canada-Israel relations.

On September 27th CJPAC and CIJA, hosted their annual Israeli Wines Meets Canadian Cheese reception at the recently renovated Sir John A Macdonald Building, just steps from Parliament Hill.

“We are proud to co-host with CJPAC,” said David Cooper, Director of Government Relations with CIJA. “The event is an opportunity for the Jewish community to demonstrate it has an important and continuing responsibility to contribute to the betterment of Canadian society through political involvement and engagement.“


The 800+ crowd was a perfect reflection of this goal with more than 190 Members of Parliament from all political stripes, as well as political staff and members of the Jewish community working the room.

The Israeli Wines Meets Canadian Cheese reception is decidedly more formal than the CJPAC much-hyped, 1300+ attendee ACTION parties in Montreal and Toronto – but the energy in the room was above and beyond most Hill receptions.

img_6148The crowd circulated around impressive wine stations in the center of the room, with the cheese and other favorites, including warm pretzels and a Kosher table, positioned around the perimeter. There was also a green screen photo booth where guests could take their photo in front of Israeli landmarks.

As for the refreshments, both Canada and Israel brought their best.

“Israel has been making wine since Biblical times, but due to historical circumstances much of that industry withered until the early 1880s,” explained Cooper. “Until the 1990s, much of the wine was mediocre until a ‘boutique wine revolution’ swept the country.“ (see infographic below)

Israel’s wine revolution mirrors a similar instance of growth to the Canadian wine industry experienced in the 1990s as Canadian vintners experienced success with using more grape varieties despite cooler growing conditions.  The similarities between the industries continue as Israel also produces ice wines, a distinctly Canadian favorite.

untitled-1As for the best pairing of night? “I would try a wine from the Judean Hills surrounding Israel’s capital Jerusalem with one of the excellent cheeses that come from the Ottawa region,” said Mr. Cooper. “A capital-to-capital wine and cheese pairing!”