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Monday, April 21, 2008

Rethinking Kosher Wines

Tyler Stoddard Smith & Matt Terl

Mogen David (MD) 20/20 Red Grape Wine
An authentic replication of the literal “blood of the lamb,” this testament to crushing guilt offers a dark core and a vibrant garnet rim, capable of providing an admirable vinous experience for Jewish Draculas and fraternity row goyim alike. According to legend, the Hebrews, while leaving Egypt in haste, neglected to fortify their wine with anything remotely up to F.D.A. standards, which explains this aggressive red’s paroxysm-inducing entry and attendant loss of bowel control leading up to the ill-defined finish. The rabbinical obligation to consume four cups of this pestilence during the Passover Seder will readily evince MD’s expressive nose and bloated disposition. The first cup, for Kiddush, offers a sense of shame with notes of bat guano; the second, a recounting of the Exodus, invokes mild dementia and enough tannins to choke a golem; the third cup concludes Birkat Hamazon and will typically precede an attempt to sodomize the sofa-crevice, along with trumped-up representations of your chances of getting into Yale; the fourth cup is associated with Hallel, and should typically be consumed in private, nude and ideally away from perishables.

Manischewitz Loganberry
This ain’t your Bubbe’s Manischewitz! A novel twist on the old favorite, Manischewitz’s Loganberry offers a similar degree of gastrointestinal irritation, along with a pungent nose reminiscent of both a petting zoo and the sixth plague. Primarily consumed by thankless Jew adolescents next to the dumpsters in the back of Temple Emanu-El, Manischewitz’s Loganberry has now become a staple at many a Passover seder. With a strong hand and an outstretched arm, this wine’s rich, jammy palate reaches across the table, grabs you by the kittel and demands to know why you treat your mother this way. A must-try for any cosmopolitan Jew, Manischewitz’s Loganberry finishes with you in the middle of a blackout, simulating the drum solo to Led Zepplin’s “Moby Dick” with a lamb shank on your uncle Ira’s kneecaps.

Kedem Premium Cream Red Concord
No doubt the blood libels against the Jews were horrible things, leading to uncounted deaths and untold misery, but a sip from this deep red really sheds new light on the Kielce pogrom. The leading edge of copper slowly gives way to a viscous salinity, which, combined with a strong nose of sweat and tears, brings the mind inexorably to the blood of Christian children. Also, very heavy sediment absolutely demands decanting, unless you believe that the suffering of the Israelites at Passover can only truly be understood by scraping residue out of your best wine goblets.

Carmel Vineyard White Zinfandel 2006
Oddly, has the exact same flavor profile as a bacon cheeseburger with a side of fried shrimp.

Passover Slivovitz
Sometimes the sheer tedium of the seder can become overwhelming. Perhaps it’s the year after Uncle Gus died, or your first Seder away from home, or just another four-hour-long religious celebration with your family—whatever the reason, it’s too much to handle. Here’s the ideal time to switch from four cups of wine to four cups of this potent plum brandy. The petroleum nose recalls fuel generators and burning hobos in a trainyard, while the flavor begins fiery at the tip of your tongue, then spreads throughout your internal organs like that computer animation in antacid commercials. The lingering taste-memory remains in your mouth for what seems like an eternity, and as long as it does, you shouldn’t breathe around the Shabbat candles. By the second cup, the Seder will be like a childhood birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese, and your relatives like audio-animatronic mice. (Note: Slivovitz is not a rabbinically approved replacement for wine.)

Farbrengen Melody
What is this? Is there any booze in this? You’d think that after 2000 years of persecution and shitty Shakespeare roles, we’d get a little sympathy, a little oomph for our troubles. Alas, this melancholy red offers nothing more than a vague sense of longing for the Jewish wonder years, the time of Solomon and Sheeba, or at least of Koufax. Not as chewy as a Malaga, but a little chewier than charoset, the Farbrengen Melody sings a song of silent pain. No, she’s not Jewish. Yes, we’re moving in together. Oh, Moses on a moped, can I get some arsenic?

Château Lafite-Rothschild, Vintage 1986
With an unquestionable elegance presented through a nose of hooded violets, earthy spices and an inclination of juniper berries, the 1986 is a remarkable … What? Not kosher? But Rothschild just sounds so Jewish. Honest mistake, I swear. What’s behind my back? Sandwich. On matzo. Don’t look at me like that. Listen, you uppity Baleboosteh—are you really going to sit there and tell me “chorizo” doesn’t sound Jewish?

Matt Terl is a freelance writer living in Baltimore. His work has appeared in Spin, Yankee Pot Roast, NewsGroper,, and The Examiner, among others.
Tyler Stoddard Smith's works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry have been featured or are upcoming in The Best American Fantasy Writing, Pindeldyboz, The Bullfight Review, Box Car Poetry Review, Identity Theory, Yankee Pot Roast, Word Riot, Twixt, Monkeybicycle and McSweeney's, among others. For more info, visit He also edits a political satire Web site,