Wine Merchant Recommends Kosher Wines for Passover
Dispelling some myths about kosher wine, right here in Maplewood
Alan Weiser of Maplewood's Village Wine Shop has some fond childhood memories of his father letting him sip Manischewitz wine at Passover.
"As a kid growing up, that's the only wine I liked. It tasted good — you like sweet stuff. It made you giggle and then you went to sleep."
Lots of people still buy Manischewitz, said Weiser, who noted that while the older customers like it to drink, some younger folks like to cook with it. But kosher wine has come a long way since Weiser's childhood.
Now, wine connoisseurs can avail themselves of almost any type of varietal in a kosher form — from Bordeaux to Gewurztraminer to Cabernet Sauvignon to Merlot to Pinot Grigio. Weiser himself offers more than a dozen kosher wines from four different countries — France, Italy, the U.S. and Israel, with the most coming from Israel. Besides the Manischewitz (the on U.S. kosher wine at Village Wine Shop) which ranges from $5.99 to $8.99, Weiser offers a range from a Golan Chardonnay at $12.99 to a Yarden Pinot Noir at $29.99.
On Montclair Patch, Will Sugerman of Amanti Vino writes that "One myth that must be dispelled is that kosher wines are inferior to non-kosher wines. It is true that for most of its history, kosher wine tended to be a little lighter in color and body than its non-kosher counterparts."
However, Sugerman says that technology has improved kosher wine because many important winemaking activities, once ignored on the Sabbath, can be mechanized and set on timers before the sun sets on Friday night. "The inactivity of kosher winemakers during the Sabbath now has little to no effect on their wines."
Sugerman also notes that another myth that has hurt the reputation of kosher wines is that they are all sweet. Weiser concurs: "Traditional Eastern European kosher wines were not sweet." That sweetness — and Manischewitz — is an American concoction. Weiser said the sweetness was born of the fact that the first kosher wines to come out of New York State were, well, "awful." So, the makers "dumped in a ton of sugar."