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04.14.2011

Passover and Kosher Wine: Time to Graduate from Manischewitz

mani_no.jpgGrowing up, my attendance at Passover seders was spotty at best, not for any lack of cajoling or even demands on my mother's part. I suppose we hadn't ever gone regularly enough for it to feel like a family tradition, so despite all the usual methods used to make it tolerable for kids, I found the whole thing interminable. Despite being a poor-excuse-for-a-Jew, I do have fond memories of my few encounters with Manischewitz. With just the right combination of verboten and high sugar content (especially for a hippie kid that didn't get much sugar at a young age) it was certainly the high point of the few seders I did go to.

After a long time, and with a palate now spoiled by a burgeoning interest in wine, I tried everyone's favorite Passover drink again, and found it, well, vile. Which is why I was amused and quite enchanted to hear it both referred to as the 11th plague, as well as its origins so nicely researched in this piece in the Atlantic.

Despite the nostalgia and tradition behind it, as someone who loves wine, and more importantly good wine, I do have to urge you to move on, however, tradition be damned. There is plenty of decent kosher wine out there, as I wrote a couple of years ago for Epicurious.

There is even some truly stellar kosher wine out there, if you can manage to buy some before the gentiles scoop it all up.

Of course, if you want to look at your yearly four glass dose of concord grape syrup as yet another symbol of our people's suffering, that's your prerogative. But life is too short to drink bad wine, no matter how much it reminds you of childhood.

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The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud