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What is Manischewitz?

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  • Written By: Brendan McGuigan
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 26 August 2016
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Manischewitz is a company based in the United States which specializes in producing kosher foods and beverages. While they make a wide assortment of products, including matzo, the name Manischewitz is often used as a synonym for the sweet kosher wine they produce. Kosher food must meet a number of conditions to be considered in keeping with Jewish dietary laws. This means that the ingredients in Manischewitz, the equipment with which it is processed, and the way it is handled all must meet very specific requirements so that it is deemed kosher.

Manischewitz is made from the Concord grape, a red grape native to the United States. The family of grapes the Concord hails from, that of Vitis labrusca, is considerably different from the European varieties of Vitis vinifera, and is considered by many in the wine-drinking community to be inferior for use in wine. There is some evidence that Concord grapes themselves, which were cultivated in the mid-19th century, may actually have a small amount of Vitis vinifera, because of the nature of their flowers. Concord grapes are also often used as food grapes in the United States, and are characterized by their large seeds and very poignant aroma. This aroma translates through to wines, such as Manischewitz, made from the grape.

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Manischewitz, like many kosher wines, is often noted for its intense sweetness. Early kosher wine-makers such as Manischewitz were faced with a dilemma in the New World, where they did not have access to high-quality grapes and often were rushed to produce ample amounts of wine in time for holidays such as Passover. With lower-quality juice to work with and insufficient time, the wines produced tended to be far too bitter for easy consumption, so sugar was added after fermentation to help the wines become more palatable. Not all kosher wine need be this sweet, however, and Manischewitz also produces a number of more traditionally-styled wines which are still kosher. The popularity of sweet Manischewitz endures, however, likely as a result of association between faithful Jews and the taste of sweet Manischewitz for ritual use.

While there are other kosher wineries in the United States, Manischewitz is far and away the largest producer. Rarely will one find a Passover celebration in which a wine other than Manischewitz is served. The symbol of the Manischewitz company, which may be found on all its wines, is a bundle of Concord grapes over a Star of David, with the word Manischewitz emblazoned on top.

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Discuss this Article

anon236929
Post 4

@anon236716: Sounds like you need to write a letter to the Manischewitz Corporation, not gripe to wiseGEEK. They just write the articles. They're not responsible for how the Manischewitz company runs its business. I'm sure Manischewitz has a website with contact information.

Seriously, since this really bothers you, contact the company. They need to know their customers are upset. Also, I'd wonder if they make their candles in China, are these candles suitable for use in a Kosher home? If I were an observant Jew (I'm not Jewish), I would certainly want to know this information.

anon236716
Post 3

Besides the fact that you had your candles made in China, they are so thin that they melt quickly and get all over the Chanukah. Shame on you.

anon236667
Post 2

I want to thank you for having us buy Chanukah candles made in China! What in the world are you doing, putting our people out of work?

obsessedwithloopy
Post 1

Manischewitz wine comes in lots of other flavors than concord grape, like blackberry, cherry, and logan berry.

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