Happy Passover! And happy celebration of Manischewitz wine! This is the Jewish holiday that commemorates the Jews being freed from slavery in Egypt some 3,500 years ago. This year, as we commemorate our history, we also need to commemorate the Ukrainian need for peace and freedom. Immediately.
Manischewitz Wine on Passover
On the first two nights of Passover, we have a ritualized meal called a Seder. One of the very fun traditions on these nights is to drink four glasses of wine. When I was growing up, those four glasses were all Manischewitz Concord Grape Red Wine. What does Concord Grape Wine taste like? According to Dr. Vinny of Wine Spectator, Concord grapes are grapey and musky. “A lot of people compare it to a grape-flavored cough syrup. It’s thick and really quite sweet, with a simple grape soda profile.” I kind of think of it as sweet alcoholic juice.
Moving Beyond Manishewitz Wine
As a wine-loving adult, I’ve had the privilege of discovering many wonderful kosher for Passover wines that aren’t sweet, syrupy things. I mainly choose Israeli wines, because there are a ton of good ones. But there are kosher for Passover wines from the United States and France as well as other countries.
What Makes a Wine Kosher for Passover
It turns out that there are three levels of kashrut (the act of being kosher) for wine.
- Non-kosher wine: Non-kosher wines aren’t created under the supervision of Sabbath-observing Jews, and they might contain ingredients that aren’t kosher.
- Kosher wine: Kosher wines are created under the supervision of Sabbath-observing Jews, and they contain only ingredients that are kosher.
- Kosher for Passover wine: Besides being kosher, kosher for Passover wines bear the additional responsibility of being created using yeast from a source other than bread mold. This is typically sugar or fruit. They also don’t have preservatives that are common in winemaking like potassium sorbate. Finally, kosher for Passover wines are kept away from grains and breads and dough.
Returning to Manischewitz
Okay, so now that I’m not a big fan of Manischewitz, do I still buy it? Yes! Why? It is a key ingredient in haroset, the amazing apple/raisin/nut/wine dish that is supposed to represent the mortar and brick used by the Hebrew slaves to build the storehouses or pyramids of Egypt. How a dish representing slavery tastes so good is a mystery to me. But the Manischewitz wine in haroset is beyond perfect. If you’ve never tried haroset, find a Jewish friend and ask them for a taste. I think you will love it. Chag Sameach (Happy Holiday)!