It is with some frequency that Americans, of a certain age, feel the need to share with me tales of their underage drinking adventures. More often than not Manischewitz was the wine of choice in their teenage exploits. However, honourable mention should go to other wines such as; Boone's Farm, Annie Greensprings, Bali Hai, Blue Nun and Lancers. Luckily, I grew up drinking wines with vastly different flavour profiles, although, in full disclosure, I have had both Blue Nun and Lancers in the past.
Manischewitz is really not that bad: it has that typical Concord grape nose (like sticking your schnoz into a jar of Concord grape jam), and that typical Concord grape taste (like chewing a massive wad of grape flavoured chewing gum). It is sweet; it is weird; it is better (read, swallowable) than Conundrum. And if you happen to prefer that your glass of grape juice comes with a little bit of a kick (11% alcohol), then Manischewitz is the drink for you. And it is kosher.
Truth is, there are some fantastic kosher wines coming out of Israel these days. I have met a couple of Israeli winemakers (they were visiting TWWIAGE) and have tried some Israeli wines - of note a Yarden, 2010 Merlot (Galilee) - nice folks, decent wines. And it's not like the Israelis are new to the wine business. There is a long history of winemaking in Israel, as is reported in this Haaretz.com article (kindly forwarded to me by New Hampshire Wineman), which tells of the unearthing of a 1400 year old wine press in Jerusalem. Those thirsty Israelis were making wine long before Manischewitz took a native American grape and produced kosher wine in New York state. I love wine history.