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November 16, 2007 9:09 AM   Subscribe

I want to find some wines similar to the communion wine of my childhood...

I've very recently become interested in trying wine, but more often than not, the stuff I buy doesn't match my idea of what wine is (it might be too bitter, too sharp, etc). I wasn't sure where I got that idea of wine in the first place, but then I realized- I've been expecting wine to taste like the communion I took every week when I went to Lutheran church as a child. I asked my godfather, and he said that the wine the church usually used was Manischewitz Cream Red Concord.

All I can find about this wine, pretty much, is the following blurb: "A sweet but balanced wine with a velvety mouth feel. The distinct aroma and flavor of fresh Concord grapes with confectionery notes." I've also found a few things indicating that this wine is kind of cheap and shitty, so it may well be that my memory has been clouded by time.

Anyway... I'm looking to figure out what characteristics this wine has that I might be able to find in other wines. All I really remember is that is was sweet and fruity- it's been well over a decade since I actually had any.
posted by showbiz_liz to Food & Drink (15 answers total)
You can likely find Manischewitz at the supermarket in the Kosher section, if you're really set on trying it again. (But even the people I know who keep Kosher don't recommend it.)
posted by occhiblu at 9:13 AM on November 16, 2007

Manischewitz is easy to find in most grocery stores, especially around Passover. Look for it in the specialty foods section -- with the matzo and such -- instead of the wine aisle.

You might also like cheap bottles of sangria, or try making your own. There are also specialty dessert wines you might enjoy, like Red Mountain Laurel.
posted by junkbox at 9:17 AM on November 16, 2007

The "Concord" part is probably the key to what you're looking for. The most common types of wine (probably the ones you've tried) all come from a single species of grape, Vitis vinifera, although there are many many different strains within the species, leading to the many types of wine. Concord grapes--the type of grape commonly used for grape jellies and purple grape juice--is a different species, Vitis labrusca. Look for wines specifically labelled as "Concord." (There are also multiple varieties of Vitis labrusca, so not all Vitis labrusca grapes are Concord grapes.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:20 AM on November 16, 2007

One night back in high school, we drank a bottle of Boone's Farm Sangria that reminded us of communion wine so much we thereafter referred to it as "Bottled Blood of Christ."

I was Catholic, though, so I don't know if Lutheran wine tastes different. It's been quite a few years since I've had either communion wine or Boone's Farm.
posted by ruby.aftermath at 9:20 AM on November 16, 2007

I suggest you try some Rose wines from Washington.
posted by Eringatang at 9:23 AM on November 16, 2007

Best answer: I hate to say this, but if you're interested in learning about wine you're going about as far away from good wine as possible with "Manischewitz Cream Red Concord".

May I suggest you try out a good sweetish Riesling or Gewurtztraminer? They're white, not red, but that's because there's essentially no good sweet red wine made in the world. Ask your local wine shop for a recommendation.

I love the irony of a congregation using Manischewitz to represent the blood of Christ.
posted by Nelson at 9:41 AM on November 16, 2007

Best answer: As you suspect, many Concord wines are, indeed, "kind of cheap and shitty." You might also like a muscadine wine--it'll have the same sweetness and grape-y taste you're looking for. Ice wine, too, will be along the same lines, but likely a lot more expensive.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:43 AM on November 16, 2007

there's essentially no good sweet red wine made in the world.

I beg to differ.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:55 AM on November 16, 2007

Also, during your search, consider that many churches water down their wine a bit (with holy water, of course), presumably to make it last longer and to make the flavor milder for those who might not like the stronger taste. Sorry if this makes the wine aficionados die a little inside. ;)
posted by sarahsynonymous at 10:03 AM on November 16, 2007

My favorite sweet summer wines are the Late Harvest Rieslings, chilled. They're sweeter than most people prefer, but to me, they're the perfect summer long-afternoon wine.
posted by TochterAusElysium at 10:56 AM on November 16, 2007

DevilsAdvocate's Port suggestion might be a good branching-out point, too. It won't be fruity, but it will be sweet, so it might be a way to try some non-shitty sweet reds. Paired with a good Stilton and some walnuts, you'll have a perfect winter's evening!
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:08 PM on November 16, 2007

try zinfandels (not the pink ones!). Old vine zins are especially good. If they are too sweet, one of my favorites is Folie A Deux's "Menage a trois"... its really an interesting wine, because you rarely find zinfandel blended with the typical bordeaux varietals, so its a mild and very drinkable wine.

Winery site.

You might also like a muscat. :)
posted by muscat at 1:15 PM on November 16, 2007

Oh, now if we're talking ports, this is the way to start: Graham's Six Grapes.

Not expensive, but very nice. Not a cheap crappy port. It's got the sweetness to make the transition easy, but the complexity that will hint at what red wine in general has to offer.
posted by Pliskie at 1:17 PM on November 16, 2007

Also, bear in mind that communion wines rate about 13 to 15 on the sweetness index for wines, whereas your average dessert wine rates about a 7.

Ask your wine store to recommend a "very sweet" wine (as opposed to "very dry") that isn't horrible. I'm sure they can recommend something good.
posted by LN at 1:31 PM on November 16, 2007

Don't forget sweet and cream sherries, too!
posted by paulsc at 5:40 PM on November 16, 2007

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