disgusting kosher wine

why is Kosher wine disgusting? I’ve only ever had maneschewitz and kedem, but because these seem to be the wine of choice for many jewish families, i figure any other kosher wines that may be available are probably very similar in taste. anyway, i was wondering if the fact that they are kosher has anything to do with the taste, or is it that horribly sweet wines have some place in jewish culture. I’ve gone to the the manischewitz site and it seems as though what makes their wine kosher is just that the process is observed and approved by a rabbi. I didn’t see anything about a kosher wine requiring different ingredients than normal wine(normal being merlot for example…not MD 20/20). so what gives?

There is nothing about kosher wines that demands that they taste like Manischevitz - kosher food has been prepared following certain rules, the process is checked over by a rabbi, etc.

I kind of like it myself - long association of the taste with big family Passover seders, and I think that the sweet taste helps some kids drink the four ceremonial cups of wine (ever watch a 9 year old try some Merlot?), although many people just put out grape juice for the kids or non-imbibers.

Much of the popularity probably comes down to marketing. Want a test? Quick, name a commercial stuffing mix. Does everyone eat Stove Top (I assume 95% of people will name that brand)? Is it the best stuffing out there? Is that what all stuffing tastes like? Probably not, but they market themselves pretty well so that’s what everyone hears about.

I saw an interview with a kosher vintner who makes very nice wines, if you check out a good wine shop you’ll probably be able to find some.

The answer is they need to let the yeast eat away at more of the sugar before they bottle it. I just had some kosher Mogan david wine (no, not Mad Dog 20/20) this past weekend, and like Manischevitz it was wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy too sweet.
Kosher wine should taste so UnGodly. Too sweet. UGH!

Shouldn’t! Shouldn’t taste so UnGodly! Oy!:wally :smack:

We make our own Kosher wine for Pesach(Passover) at home (it ferments in plastic buckets in our garage) and it’s actually quite nice. Kosher wine is usually more of a port or a sherry than a wine. I prefer our wine to normal red wine but I think that’s just from drinking it for 18 years before I sipped normal wine.

I have had some fine kosher table wine, very dry and tasted excellent. Manischewitz is indeed awful; I don’t know why. But it needn’t be that way. Probably there was no competition. Also it is meant to be drunk by kids and in fact was the only “wine” I had ever tasted till I was grown.

If I weren’t an agnostic, I’d say that God apparently takes away the Wine Sense of many Men of the Cloth. It’s not just that Manischewitz and Mogen David wines are incredibly sweet and awful (far worse than Widmer’s Lake Niagara, my guilty pleasure). Catholic wines are just as bad. In the New York Finger Lakes the Barry winery used to make sacramental wimes for masses – and they were just as bad. (The commercial wimes that they made were, however, pretty good.)
Of course, I’ve had good wines at several different religious services since. Maybe the curse has been lifted.

There’s two issues here – one botanical, the other religous legal.

  1. Manischevitz, Kedem, and Mogen Dovid wines are normally made from Concord grapes, which are particularly sour. Concord wines need sugar added to the wine to make it drinkable.

  2. For most of history, the rules for a wine to be kosher made it extremely difficult for someone who knows how to make a good wine to break into the kosher wine industry. I believe the Rothschild wines are a notable exception, but that’s beyond my budget. I think Baron Herzog was the first kosher label run by a professional vinter, and to do that they had to get certain rules re-interpreted. (The relevant rule is that during the wine-making process until the wine is “mevushal” (boiled?), only strictly-observant Jews may handle the wine. The new ruling, IIRC, was to permit someone else to own the vinyard.) Since then, and I think that was perhaps 10 years-ish ago, decent inexpensive kosher wines have been making their way to the stores.

The quick tips to picking a good kosher wine: Avoid Concord wines and anything with a screw top.

I grew up eating concord grapes. They are not sour. Welch’s Concord Grape juice boasts about not having added sugar. Taylor and Widmer’s and other wineries make concord grape wines that are not as abysmally sweet as Manishevitz, Moden David, etc. You don’t have to add sugar to make concord potable.

Concord grapes do have a taste called “foxiness”. Taste is hard to describe, but “foxiness” is the characteristic taste Concord grapes (and a few other native American grapes, like Delaware and Catawba) have. It’s what makes grape jelly taste radically different from, say, California seedless grapes. But it’s not a sourness, and adding sugar won’t get rid of it.

There a few drinkable kosher wines, although nothing as cheap as Kedem or Maneschewitz jew brews. Baron Herzog is a good one.

OK, I misremembered, or remembered bad info. Thanks for the correction.

I would suggest that you take a look at www.kosherwine.com. There is a huge variety of wines to choose from. Not everything tastes like Manashewitz, Mogen David, etc. Since we keep koser, we have several bottles of wine on hand, and not one of them is either Manashewitz or Mogen David.

Concord grapes are from the family labrusca – the native american grape. Labrusca grapes are much sweeter than the european vinefera grapes which are used in winemaking. (This sweetness is why most table grapes are labrusca.) The extra sugar makes it pretty tough to get a good wine from a labrusca grape, although I learned to drink wine in the Finger Lakes, New York region and I’ve had a couple of good sweet wines made from catawba, a very sweet member of the labrusca grape family.

Most wine is made from vinefera grapes that have been grafted on to labrusca roots to avoid phylloxera, a disease that attacks vinefera grapes but to which labruscas are largely resistant.

One question I have – is there a requirement that kosher wine be high in alcohol content? My understanding is that Manischevitz, et al., are fortified. Aren’t they at 18% alcohol? You can’t get that high with regular fermentation – at 14% alcohol the yeast dies off. If the wines don’t need to be that high in alcohol, couldn’t you make a non-sweet kosher wine by harvesting your concords early and then fermenting the hell out of them to get a mostly dry 14% alcohol wine?


P.S. I think Mad Dog Lighting Jack is pretty good – not too sweet and a bottle is $4!

I know it’s GQ and not IMHO, but I just want to mention that some of us like the tast of Kosher wine and find many other “fine” wines to be disgusting. So, YMMV.