What is Manischewitz, and what does it taste like?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

What is Manischewitz, and what does it taste like?

—Cole K., Portland, Ore.

Dear Cole,

Manischewitz is the brand name of a company based in the United States that makes a variety of kosher food products. Manischewitz sells everything from matzo to gefilte fish, but the name has become somewhat synonymous with kosher Concord grape wine. Come Passover, Manischewitz wine is ubiquitous in many Jewish households, where wine is an important part of the holiday’s rituals. Manischewitz wine has been owned by the wine giant Constellation Brands since 1987, which licenses the name from Manischewitz Food’s parent company.

There are currently a handful of different bottlings of Manischewitz wine, including cherry and blackberry versions. The most well-known is the Concord grape version. Concord grapes are native to the eastern United States. When the Jewish population was growing in the 1950s, so was the demand for wine. Concord grapes were available, and their grapey, musky wine profile seemed to stick. These days there are many more types of kosher wines available to choose from, but nostalgia, an easy-drinking style, wide availability and an affordable price tag still make Manischewitz the most popular kosher wine in the United States.

I don’t drink a lot of Manischewitz, but it’s got a very distinctive flavor that sticks in your head. 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.

—Dr. Vinny

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