Kosher Wine Is Drinkable, I Swear

Well, originally, I was going to compare that most wonderful elixir produced by Jews, Manischewitz Concord Grape with a real, drinkable kosher wine produced by Alfasi, a Chilean producer of kosher wines named for a famous rabbi of early second millennium. Based in the Malbec valley they produced quite good, and surprisingly inexpensive wines, all of them made from grapes that were actually intended to go into wine: merlot, cabernet sauvignon, as well as chardonay and more lately syrah and pinot noir. Unfortunately I was undone by the vagaries of distribution. Unfortunately, it does not appear that Alfasi gets distribution to Massachusetts. However, if, for whatever reason you need a kosher wine, either for your own consumption or as a hosting gift, this is a good choice. (Others include Barkan, Chateau La Crock, and many others.) One thing to be careful of. Many kosher wines (including, as of some time in the last eight years, Alfasi) are “mevushal.” For a wine to be “mevushal” it needs to be increased to boiling point. For modern firms, it means bringing to boiling point for a fraction of a second, but the more traditional producers will boil the wine for an extended period of time. If you are pagan and carry wine that is not mevushal it ceases to be kosher. If you are Christian, Muslim, Druze, Bahai, or any other kind of Abrahmic monotheist, you’re in the clear. Don’t ask me the reasons. They are quite complicated. On the other hand, Maneshewitz is widely available, so, with that, I give you the review.

A Glass of Manischewitz

A Glass of Manischewitz

Manishewitz Wine Co.: Concord Grape (Non-vintage)

Tasting Conditions: I had this non-vintage after dinner mostly to taste it as I only had a scant glass. The bottle had been opened a day or two ago, but I would judge that the screw top, high sugar content, and refrigeration probably prevented most damage. I drank the wine from a red wine glass of about six ounces.

Eye: The wine was a dark candy-apple red in the glass, and was quite clear. I was unable to get legs to form. The bottle was unconventional for wine, as it was squared off. The label was a little on the cartoony side for me with a large Technicolor grape bunch.

Nose: The nose was quite sweet with notes of honey, strawberry, and grape. Surprisingly, I did not get any mustiness, which I have found quite characteristic of most wines. In fact, it seamed to have more in common with port, than with most other vintages.

Mouth: In the mouth this wine was redolent with, well, grapefruit notes, but it also had the honey thing going on as well as berries. The most noticeable thing about it though was the overwhelming sweetness. It tasted more like grape syrup than anything else. I did notice a curious orange note on the finish. I was also surprised, given the sweetness, at the lack of body.

Conclusion: I was surprised by this wine. I remembered this as being atrocious. It was almost (emphasis on almost) drinkable. It could make an inexpensive, though not wonderful, replacement for ruby port. However, it would not be my first choice for drinking, in general.

See you tomorrow,

The Scribe


3 Responses

  1. […] Kosher Wine Is Drinkable, I Swear […]

  2. I thought ‘mevushal’ was just under boiling, almost flash pasteurization?
    Celler Capçanes in Montsant, Catalunya, Spain made their reputation with a kosher Cabernet named ‘Flor de Primavera’…
    supposed to be th shitsnitz, not cheap.

  3. As I understand it there are two types of mevushal process (as I noted in the post): “Flash” mevushal and traditional mevushal. As you suggested, a wine that has gone through the flash mevushal process is largely unaffected as it is basically flash pasteurization. The traditional method however, is a different beast. The wine is actively boiled for a period of time (the most traditional number would be eighteen minutes) what comes out is rather what you would expect, a week, limpid spiked grape syrup. It is also traditional that wine drunk for sacramental purposes be very sweet, so that the blessing may be sweet.
    The Scribe

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