Mevushal Wine - Packages and Controversies in memory of Stewart Bolton, z'l


47:3 If kosher wine has been cooked by boiling it until some of it has evaporated, it remains permitted for drinking even if handled by non-Jews. (Such wine is called “yayin mevushal.”)

47:14 If a Jew sends wine using a non-Jewish courier, he must make sure that every tap or opening is properly sealed with a double seal.

47:16 Regarding containers of non-Jewish wine, if they are only used to hold wine for short periods of time and the non-Jewish wine was only held in them for 24 hours, then they should be washed thoroughly with water three times, after which they may be used. This is true whether they are vessels of leather, wood, glass, stone or metal, so long as they are not lined with pitch. If they are lined with pitch, different rules apply; different rules also apply to earthenware.

רבה ורב יוסף דאמרי תרוייהו יין מזוג אין בו משום גילוי יין מבושל אין בו משום ניסוך איבעיא להו יין מבושל יש בו משום גילוי או אין בו משום גילוי

אלא על פיתן ושמנן משום יינן ועל יינן משום בנותיהן ועל בנותיהן משום דבר אחר ועל דבר אחר משום ד"א בנותיהן דאורייתא היא דכתיב (דברים ז, ג) לא תתחתן בם

...their loaves, their oils, their wines are all forbidden because of intermarriage and intermarriage because of what it says in the Torah: do not marry them


Yayin Mevushal – Tamudic Background
The Gemara (Avoda Zara 30a) cites Rava, who believes that the restrictions concerning Nochrim touching wine do not apply if the wine is cooked. The Gemara (ibid.) quotes a striking anecdote that demonstrates the application of this Halacha. The Gemara relates that Shmuel and a Nochri named Avlet were sitting together and cooked wine was served to them. Avlet took his hand away from the wine so as not to render it forbidden to Shmuel. Shmuel thereupon told Avlet that he need not worry, as the wine was Mevushal. Rashi (ad. loc. s.v. Harei Amru) writes that this Gemara teaches that we may drink Yayin Mevushal that was touched by a Nochri. Tosafot (ad. loc. s.v. Yayin Mevushal) add that this constitutes normative Halacha. Rambam (Hilchot Maachalot Asurot 11:9) and Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 123:3) codify this rule as well.
The Rosh (Avoda Zara 2:13) wonders why the fact that the wine is cooked eliminates the prohibition of wine touched by a Nochri. After all, he explains, the reason Chazal instituted this prohibition was to prevent intermarriage (see Avoda Zara 36b and Tosafot, Avoda Zara 29b s.v. Yayin). Why should cooking the wine eliminate concern for intermarriage? The Rosh suggests that since cooked wine is relatively uncommon, Chazal did not apply their edict to an unusual circumstance. Indeed, we find in many places in the Gemara that Chazal do not issue edicts regarding highly unusual circumstances (see, for example, Bava Metzia 46b). Not surprisingly, the seemingly ubiquitous nature of Yayin Mevushal today has led many to question whether this leniency continues to apply in the contemporary setting.

The Parameters of the Yayin Mevushal Leniency
Rav Zvi Pesach Frank (Teshuvot Har Zvi Y.D. 111) notes that the Rambam (ad. loc.), Tur (Y.D. 123), and Shulchan Aruch (ad. loc.) clearly indicate that the leniency of Yayin Mevushal applies only to wine owned by a Jew that is touched by a Nochri. However, this leniency does not apply to wine owned by a Nochri. Thus, Rav Frank forbids drinking cooked wine that was produced by a Nochri owned company, despite the fact that the wine making process is entirely automated and no Nochri ever touches the grapes after they are placed in the machinery. Rav Hershel Schachter stated at the OU grape juice and wine seminar that Rav Frank’s ruling is accepted as normative. We should note that Rav Akiva Eiger’s comments to Y.D. 123:3 (s.v. DeAf Al Gav) seem to strongly support Rav Frank’s ruling.
There is considerable debate regarding how much the wine must be cooked in order for it to be categorized as Yayin Mevushal. The Rosh (ad. loc.) writes that once the wine is heated it is classified as Yayin Mevushal. The Rosh cites the Raavad, who writes that this was the opinion of the Geonim. The Rashba (Torat HaBayit 5:3, citing Ramban) and the Ran (Avoda Zara 10a in the pages of the Rif s.v. Yayin Mevushal, also citing the Ramban) write that wine is not considered Mevushal until some of the wine is lost in the heating process. The Encyclopedia Talmudit (24:367) cites a number of other dissenting opinions among the Rishonim regarding this matter.
The Shulchan Aruch (ad. loc.) rules in accordance with the Rosh and the Geonim, while the Shach (Y.D. 123:7) rules in accordance with the Rashba and the Ran. Rav Moshe Feinstein (Teshuvot Igrot Moshe Y.D. 2:52 and see 3:31) and Rav Ovadia Yosef (Teshuvot Yabia Omer 8:Y.D. 15) rule that the wine need not be boiled in order to be defined as Mevushal. They believe that if the wine is heated to 175 degrees Fahrenheit (or 80 degrees Celsius) it is certainly regarded as Mevushal. On the other hand, the Tzelemer Rav is often quoted as requiring wine to be boiled in order to be classified as Mevushal. This ruling seems to be based on the opinions cited in the Darkei Teshuva (123:15) and the Gilyon Maharsha (Y.D. 116:1).

Is Pasteurized Wine Classified as Yayin Mevushal?
Three major Israeli Poskim argue that pasteurized wine is not considered Mevushal. Rav Yosef Shalom Eliashiv (Kovetz Teshuvot 1:75) rules that, based on the information provided to him, pasteurizing wine is a standard procedure in contemporary winemaking. Accordingly, he rules that the Yayin Mevushal leniency does not apply to pasteurized wine. This is based on the aforementioned comment of the Rosh that the basis of the Yayin Mevushal leniency is the fact that cooked wine is an unusual commodity. Chazal, Rav Eliashiv argues, did not establish the Yayin Mevushal exception when such cooking is common practice.
Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Teshuvot Minchat Shlomo 1:25) argues that the cooking involved in the pasteurization process qualitatively differs from the cooking of wine discussed in the Gemara, Rambam, and Shulchan Aruch. In the traditional process, the wine was cooked in open vats, thereby causing alcohol to evaporate and the wine’s taste to be noticeably changed. However, pasteurization involves a momentary heating of wine (or grape juice) in sealed pipes that causes little noticeable change in the taste of the product. Seemingly, the sole purpose of the pasteurization is to eliminate bacteria.
Rav Shlomo Zalman argues that although wine that is pasteurized is technically considered cooked, since it is heated and some wine does evaporate (although it returns to the wine since the process occurs in sealed pipes), it cannot be considered Mevushal, because the taste is not noticeably changed. Rav Shlomo Zalman cites the Rashba (Teshuvot 4:149 and Torat HaBayit and Mishmeret HaBayit 5:3), Meiri (Avoda Zara 29b and 30a), Knesset HaGedolah (123, Haghot Beit Yosef number 16) and Sedei Chemed (Maarechet Yayin Nesech) who all state that the leniency regarding Yayin Mevushal stems from the fact that the taste of the wine is altered by the cooking process.
Rav Shlomo Zalman notes that there were those who responded to him that wine experts can in fact tell the difference between pasteurized wines and non-pasteurized wines, which is why wineries in France do not permit their products to be pasteurized (except for wine marketed to Kosher consumers who specifically want Yayin Mevushal). Rav Shlomo Zalman responds that the Halacha regarding this matter is determined by what most people discern, not by experts. Indeed, we find that in general the Halacha is determined by the perception and abilities of most people and not of experts. For example, the Gemara (Shabbat 74b and see Tosafot ad. loc. s.v. Chochmah Yeteirah) teaches that spinning wool while it is yet on a goat’s back constitutes an unusual activity (a Shinui) and therefore does not constitute a Biblical violation, despite the fact that this is a routine activity for a number of extraordinarily talented people.
In a more modern application, Rav Hershel Schachter reports that he once told a dentist that his Tefillin were sufficiently square since they appeared square and a simple measurement indicated that they were square. Despite the dentist’s protest that based on his experience with fillings that must be perfectly square he knows that his Tefillin are not perfectly square, Rav Schachter told him that the latter’s eyesight is the equivalent of a precision instrument, and the status of Tefillin as square is determined by what most people perceive and measure. Similarly, Rav Shlomo Zalman believes that the inability of non-experts to distinguish between pasteurized and non-pasteurized wine is the only relevant consideration (also see TABC’s Bikkurei Shabbat pp.15-16).
One might respond, though, that Rav Shlomo Zalman’s assertion regarding the perception of non-experts might be valid only regarding Israelis in the 1980’s (when Rav Shlomo Zalman published his Teshuva). Today, however, many people have developed sophisticated appreciation for wine and it seems that many “amateur” wine drinkers readily perceive the difference between pasteurized and non-pasteurized wine, and will specifically choose a “non-Mevushal” wine when they wish to drink a fine wine.
A major Sephardic Poseik, Rav Ben Tzion Abba Shaul (Teshuvot Ohr LeTzion 2:20:19), also rules that pasteurized wine is not considered “Mevushal”. He reasons that because the evaporated wine returns to it (since the pasteurization occurs in a sealed vat), it fails to meet the Shach’s definition of “Mevushal”. Rav Ovadia Yosef responds that the evaporated portion of the wine that returns has lost its status of wine and it is no longer considered wine when it returns. Thus, technically speaking, the quantity of wine has been reduced in the pasteurization process (we noted earlier that even Rav Shlomo Zalman essentially concedes this point).

Defending Common Practice to Regard Pasteurized Wines as Yayin Mevushal
Rav Hershel Schachter noted at the OU seminar that the prevailing custom in America is to be lenient about his matter, following the ruling of Rav Moshe Feinstein (ad. loc.) and other major Poskim in America. Indeed, Rav Ovadia Yosef notes that common practice in Israel is also to be lenient about this matter. In fact, even Rav Shlomo Zalman acknowledges that many are lenient regarding this issue. Although he expresses some hesitancy about it, Dayan Weisz (Teshuvot Minchat Yitzchak 7:61) endorses the common practice to be lenient “since this has become the prevailing practice with the consent of eminent Halachic authorities.”
Dayan Weisz and Rav Ovadia Yosef (Rav Shlomo Zalman also concedes this point) do not share Rav Eliashiv’s aforementioned concern that pasteurized wine has become common practice. They believe that even though “cooking” wine today is commonplace, it is irrelevant. When Chazal established these Halachot, they reason, cooking wine was uncommon, and we are not authorized to enact new rules (see Rosh, Shabbat 2:15 and Teshuvot Yechave Daat 2:49) or alter Chazal’s edicts. Moreover, Rav Ovadia notes that the Rosh cited by Rav Eliashiv does not appear to constitute normative Halacha, as indicated by the Taz (Y.D. 123:3) and Rav Akiva Eiger (ad. loc.). Most importantly, Rav Eliashiv specifically writes that his ruling applies only if the information provided to him was accurate. Rav Shmuel David (Techumin 14:421) notes that Rav Eliashiv’s ruling needs to be revisited, since many wineries outside of Israel do not pasteurize their wines. Indeed, kosher wine expert Mr. Feivish Herzog of Kedem wines stated at the OU seminar that Rav Eliashiv was indeed provided with inaccurate information. He explained that wine does not have to be pasteurized for health reasons (the alcohol eliminates concern for bacteria), and usually only Kosher wines are pasteurized to create Yayin Mevushal. For example, Mr. Herzog explained, Gallo and Taylor wines (these are popular non-kosher wines) do not pasteurize their wines except in the case of a bad grape harvest. Accordingly, cooking wine appears to be uncommon even today, and even according to the Rosh’s explanation of the Yayin Mevushal, the leniency remains applicable.

The common practice to regard pasteurized wines as Mevushal is based on the rulings of many of the twentieth century’s leading Poskim. Moreover, Rav Shlomo Zalman’s strict ruling appears to emerge from a reality that has changed since the time that he wrote his Teshuva, and Rav Eliashiv’s strict ruling seems to stem from incorrect information provided to him. Furthermore, Rav Weisz notes, one may be lenient regarding non-observant Jews, since there is considerable debate as to whether a non-observant Jew touching wine renders it non-kosher. Accordingly, it seems that one may invite non-observant relatives and friends to the Seder without concern regarding the wine, as long as the wine is marked as Mevushal.


(ג) אלו דברים של עכו"ם אסורין. ואיסורן איסור הנאה. היין. והחומץ של עכו"ם שהיה מתחלתו יין. וחרס הדרייני. ועורות לבובין. רבן שמעון בן גמליאל אומר בזמן שהקרע שלו עגול אסור. משוך מותר.

(3) These are the items of non-Jews which are prohibited, and there is a prohibition on deriving any benefit from them at all: wine, the vinegar of non-Jews which began as wine, Hadrianic earthenware, and hides that were pierced at the heart. Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel says: If [the hole is] round then it is prohibited, but if it is stretched it is allowed.

(לח) אֲשֶׁ֨ר חֵ֤לֶב זְבָחֵ֙ימוֹ֙ יֹאכֵ֔לוּ יִשְׁתּ֖וּ יֵ֣ין נְסִיכָ֑ם יָק֙וּמוּ֙ וְיַעְזְרֻכֶ֔ם יְהִ֥י עֲלֵיכֶ֖ם סִתְרָֽה׃
(38) Who ate the fat of their offerings And drank their libation wine? Let them rise up to your help, And let them be a shield unto you!

גמ׳ יין מנלן אמר רבה בר אבוה אמר קרא (דברים לב, לח) אשר חלב זבחימו יאכלו ישתו יין נסיכם מה זבח אסור בהנאה אף יין נמי אסור בהנאה

Does this verse prohibit ALL wine or just the wine used as libation wine? Using this verse to prove the rule of the Mishnah AZ in chapter 2 confounds the issue - is the prohibition on Gentile wine rabbinic or scriptural? And why is it so strict? And would it apply to the packaging? And how does either status impact our commerce, dealings and interactions with the non-Jewish world?

....[from Wasserman] As Haym Soloveitchik points out in his magisterial study of how the Jews of medieval Ashkenaz produced, consumed and traded wine, the laws surrounding wine remained ambiguous for an uncharacteristically extended period in Jewish history...Rashi's 12th C. commentary will clarify...

(ד) נודות העכו"ם וקנקניהן. ויין של ישראל כנוס בהן. אסורין. ואיסורן איסור הנאה. דברי רבי מאיר. וחכמים אומרים אין איסורן איסור הנאה.

(4) The water-skins of non-Jews and their containers which contain a Jew's wine within them, they are prohibited and it is prohibited to derive any benefit from them, according to Rabbi Meir. The Sages say: Their prohibition does not include deriving benefit from them.

אין גוזרין גזירה על הצבור אא"כ רוב צבור יכולין לעמוד בה
אלא על פיתן ושמנן משום יינן ועל יינן משום בנותיהן ועל בנותיהן משום דבר אחר ועל דבר אחר משום ד"א בנותיהן דאורייתא היא דכתיב (דברים ז, ג) לא תתחתן בם

(ח) לוקחין גת בעוטה מן העכו"ם אף על פי שהוא נוטל בידו ונותן לתפוח. ואינו נעשה יין נסך עד שירד לבור. ירד לבור מה שבבור אסור. והשאר מותר:

(8) One may buy a stepped on wine press from a non-Jew even though he takes [the crushed grapes from there] with his hand and places them in the pile. It does not become libation wine until it drains to the pit. Once it has drained to the pit, [if the non-Jew touched it,] what is in the pit is prohibited and the rest is permitted.

(ג) עובד כוכבים שהיה מעביר עם ישראל כדי יין ממקום למקום אם היה בחזקת המשתמר. מותר. אם הודיעו שהוא מפליג. כדי שישתום ויסתום ויגוב. רבן שמעון בן גמליאל אומר כדי שיפתח ויגוף ותיגוב:

(3) A non-Jew who was transporting jugs of wine with a Jew from one place to another, if it could be assumed [by the non-Jew] that they were being guarded, then they are permitted. If he let him know that he was going away, [they are prohibited] if there elapsed enough time [for the non-Jew] to puncture [the seal], patch it, and dry it. Rabbi Shimon son of Gamliel says: Enough time for him to open it, put in a new seal, and allow it to dry.

(ד) יין של תרומה שנתגלה ישפך ואין צריך לומר של חולין. שלשה משקין אסורים משום גלוי. המים והיין והחלב. ושאר כל המשקין מותרים. כמה ישהו ויהיו אסורין. כדי שיצא הרחש ממקום קרוב וישתה:

(4) If wine that is Terumah is left uncovered, it must be poured out. It is not necessary to say this if it is Chulin [non-sacred produce]. Three kinds of liquids become forbidden if left uncovered: water, wine, and milk. All other liquids [even if left uncovered] are permitted. How long must they be left [uncovered] for them to become forbidden? As long as [it would take] for a snake to come out from a nearby place and drink [from it].

Is the reason wine is forbidden EXPOSURE? But what if the wine "bottle" is sealed?! Double-sealed?

רבה ורב יוסף דאמרי תרוייהו יין מזוג אין בו משום גילוי יין מבושל אין בו משום ניסוך איבעיא להו יין מבושל יש בו משום גילוי או אין בו משום גילוי ת"ש העיד רבי יעקב בר אידי על יין מבושל שאין בו משום גילוי רבי ינאי בר ישמעאל חלש על לגביה ר' ישמעאל בן זירוד ורבנן לשיולי ביה יתבי וקא מבעיא להו יין מבושל יש בו משום גילוי או אין בו משום גילוי אמר להו ר' ישמעאל בן זירוד הכי אמר רשב"ל משום גברא רבה ומנו ר' חייא יין מבושל אין בו משום גילוי אמרו ליה נסמוך מחוי להו ר' ינאי בר ישמעאל עלי ועל צוארי שמואל ואבלט הוו יתבי אייתו לקמייהו חמרא מבשלא משכיה לידיה א"ל שמואל הרי אמרו יין מבושל אין בו משום יין נסך אמתיה דרבי חייא איגלויי לה ההוא חמרא מבשלא אתיא לקמיה דר' חייא אמר לה הרי אמרו יין מבושל אין בו משום גילוי שמעיה דרב אדא בר אהבה איגלי ליה חמרא מזיגא א"ל הרי אמרו יין מזוג אין בו משום גילוי אמר רב פפא לא אמרן אלא דמזיג טובא אבל מזיג ולא מזיג שתי ומזיג ולא מזיג מי שתי והא רבה בר רב הונא הוה קאזיל בארבא והוה נקיט חמרא בהדיה וחזייה לההוא חיויא דצרי ואתי א"ל לשמעיה סמי עיניה דדין שקיל קלי מיא שדא ביה וסר לאחוריה אחייא מסר נפשיה אמזיגא לא מסר נפשיה ואמזיגא לא מסר נפשיה והא רבי ינאי הוה בי עכבורי ואמרי ליה בר הדיא הוה בי עכבורי הוו יתבי והוו קא שתו חמרא מזיגא פש להו חמרא בכובא וצרונהי בפרונקא וחזיא לההוא חיויא דשקיל מיא ורמא בכובא עד דמלא בכובא וסליק חמרא עילויה פרונקא ושתי אמרי דמזיג איהו שתי דמזיגי אחריני לא שתי אמר רב אשי ואיתימא רב משרשיא פירוקא לסכנתא אמר רבא הלכתא יין מזוג יש בו משום גילוי ויש בו משום יין נסך יין מבושל אין בו משום גילוי ואין בו משום יין נסך

The Humanity of the Talmud: Reading for Ethics in Bavli Avodah Zarah - Mira Beth Wasserman

Much of the recent scholarship on the mishnaic tractate 'Avodah Zara' begins by remarking upon the dramatic difference between biblical and rabbinic attitudes toward idolatry and the people who practice it. Biblical law not only prohibits Israel from engaging in a whole range of practices it identifies with idolatry, it requires Israelites to utterly destroy idols when they come upon them. The Mishna, however, presumes that Jews inhabit a world filled with idols. Mishna AZ calls on Jews simply to distance themselves from idolatry, and to avoid benefiting from idol worship at all costs...the Mishna's openness to interaction with Gentiles in public, neutral spaces entails its correlative: a watchful, protective stance in the private realm where ritual takes place...Noam Zohar argues that the Mishna's apparent alarm regarding the threat of Gentile libation does not reflect any behavior tha tthe Rabbis observed in pagan life, but is rather a projection of the Rabbis' own behaviors and values onto the Gentiles. The special strictures relating to wine...are a measure of wine's centrality to Jewish ritual. is the currency of sacredness in the rabbinic imagination, and for this reason it must be cordoned off from the profane realm where Jews and Gentiles pursue social and economic relationships.

From Isaiah Cox, A Brief History of Wine Technology and Dilution
Storage of wine was another matter. The ancient world was better at preserving wine after it was made. In the ancient world (from Egypt through Greece and early Rome), wine was kept in amphorae.
Amphorae are earthenware vessels, typically with a small mouth on top. The amphorae were sealed with clay, wax, cork or gypsum. The insides of the amphorae, if made of clay, were sealed with pitch, to make them airtight. It was well understood that if air got in, the wine would turn bad, and eventually to vinegar. Some amphorae were even made of glass, and then carefully sealed with gypsum, specifically to preserve the wine.

From Isaiah Cox, Princeton U.

A Brief History of Wine Technology and Dilution

Marcus Porcius Cato (234-150 B.C.), refers to some of the problems related to the preservation of fermented wine. In Cato alludes to such problems when he speaks of the terms “for the sale of wine in jars.” One of the conditions was that “only wine which is neither sour nor musty will be sold. Within three days it shall be tasted subject to the decision of an honest man, and if the purchaser fails to have this done, it will be considered tasted; but any delay in the tasting caused by the owner will add as many days to the time allowed the purchaser.”[41] Pliny, for example, frankly acknowledges that “it is a peculiarity of wine among liquids to go moldy or else to turn into vinegar; and whole volumes of instructions how to remedy this have been published.”[42]

[41] On Agriculture, Chapter 148.*.html . Cato shares the opinion of Rav: “For three days after purchase the seller is responsible if the wine turns sour; but after that his responsibility ceases.” B. B. 96a.
Wine Strength and Dilution
With proper amphorae, if the wine was good when it went into the vessel, it was quite likely to be good when it was retrieved, even if it was years later. The Egyptians and Greeks and Romans had vintage wines – wines that they could pull out of the cellar decades after it had been made.
But amphorae represented the pinnacle of wine storage, unmatched until the glass bottle was invented in the 19th century.
Around the time of the destruction of the Second Beis Hamikdash, the technology shifted. Barrels became prevalent[33], and remained the standard until the advent of the glass bottle in the 19th century. Barrels are made of wood, and they breathe. Without proper sealing, wine that is uncovered, untopped or unprotected by insufficient sulfur dioxide has a much shorter shelf life. Once a wine goes still (stops fermenting), it’s critical to protect it.[34]
a. Ancient Israel and Egypt
b. Ancient Greece and Early Rome
c. Late Roman – medieval
d. Europe, 16th Century onward
e. Europe 19th century to present
a. Sometimes sealed amphorae; sometimes poor ones.[35]
b. Amphorae with good seals.[36] Sulfur candles were sometimes used. Romans and Greeks continued to add salt water when the wine was sealed – as well as boiling and using pitch.[37]
c. Sealed wine is valued.[38] Even so, amphorae fell out of use, and were replaced with wooden barrels, which breathe. But Gemara forbids sulphur in korbanos.[39]
d. Wooden barrels continue.

e. Wine bottles are used. For the first time since the time of the Beis Hamikdash, wine can be safely stored for a long time.

[36] Jeremiah 48:11, Moab is compared to a container of fine wine that is not disturbed: “therefore its taste has stayed in it, and its scent was not diminished.” Unsealed wine in the ancient world was known to lose its essence.

[39] John Kitto’s Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature says: “When the Mishna forbids smoked wines from being used in offerings (Manachoth, viii. 6, et comment.), it has chiefly reference to the Roman practice of fumigating them with sulphur, the vapor of which absorbed the oxygen, and thus arrested the fermentation. The

Jews carefully eschewed the wines and vinegar of the Gentiles.” But presumably smoked wines were acceptable for consumption, even if not for offerings?
(יא) שַׁאֲנַ֨ן מוֹאָ֜ב מִנְּעוּרָ֗יו וְשֹׁקֵ֥ט הוּא֙ אֶל־שְׁמָרָ֔יו וְלֹֽא־הוּרַ֤ק מִכְּלִי֙ אֶל־כֶּ֔לִי וּבַגּוֹלָ֖ה לֹ֣א הָלָ֑ךְ עַל־כֵּ֗ן עָמַ֤ד טַעְמוֹ֙ בּ֔וֹ וְרֵיח֖וֹ לֹ֥א נָמָֽר׃ (ס)
(11) Moab has been secure from his youth on— He is settled on his lees And has not been poured from vessel to vessel— He has never gone into exile. Therefore his fine flavor has remained And his bouquet is unspoiled.
Beyond the human interaction, kosher wine producers must be wary of the compound used to seal a barrel and the glue used in composite corks [note history of corks below - not in use in ancient world - rather wax, pastes from figs, rags, documents used as stoppers as evidenced from the Gemara in Bava Batra 76b - "If someone is selling a document to his friend he must write: 'It is acquired to you, including any lien in it.' Rav Ashi said...see below] Further a kosher winery must carefully clean down a bottling line before they can use it to bottle their wines. Finally there is the extra concern around the labeling; including the need to make sure the proper supervisory organization symbols are correctly printed!
אמר רב פפא האי מאן דמזבין ליה שטרא לחבריה צריך למיכתב ליה קני הוא וכל שעבודא דביה אמר רב אשי אמריתה לשמעתא קמיה דרב כהנא ואמרית ליה טעמא דכתב ליה הכי הא לא כתב ליה הכי לא קני וכי לצור על פי צלוחיתו הוא צריך אמר לי אין לצור ולצור
§ The Gemara returns to the issues of acquiring promissory notes. Rav Pappa says: One who sells a promissory note to another must write to him: Acquire it and all liens on property that are contained within it. Rav Ashi said: I stated this halakha before Rav Kahana, and I said to him the following analysis: The reason the buyer acquires it is that the seller wrote this for him. This indicates that if he did not write this for him, the buyer does not acquire the monetary rights recorded in the promissory note. Rav Ashi asks: Why, then, did he purchase the promissory note? But does he require it to tie around the mouth of his flask as a stopper? Clearly, he purchased the document for the purpose of collecting the debt recorded in it. Rav Pappa said to me: Yes, it is possible that he purchased the promissory note in order to tie it around his flask. Since the owner did not transfer ownership of the obligation recorded in the promissory note, the buyer acquires only the paper itself.

(ו) בלשת עובדי כוכבים שנכנסה לעיר. בשעת שלום. חביות פתוחות אסורות. סתומות מותרות. בשעת מלחמה אלו ואלו מותרות. לפי שאין פנאי לנסך:

(6) A troop of non-Jewish investigating soldiers that enter a city at a time of peace, all open barrels are prohibited but sealed barrels are permitted. In a time of war, both are permitted, since there is no time to pour libations.

  • Grapes and the vineyard
  • The ingredients one adds to wine, other than the grapes
  • The process of making the wine, from the picking of the grapes all the way to the bottling**

** Bottling in standard, dark glass bottles is a relatively recent invention -

A History of the Glass Wine Bottle

You have to love a glass wine bottle. Always perfectly shaped, sized, and handled.

Glass has been around a long time. Naturally occurring obsidian glass has been used in human tools since the Stone Age! The first true glass was produced around 3,000 BC in Northern Syria. In South Asia, glasswork was used beginning around 1730 BC. The ancient Romans were particularly well-known for their glasswork, which was used both domestically and industrially. They developed the technique of glassblowing, which was used to make wine bottles. It’s no surprise, then, that the term “glass” was first used by the Romans. [Was it Roman or did the method develop in Israel?!]

Sadly, the delicate glass of yore wasn’t a good method for storing wine. Because it was too fragile to travel, wine was usually stored in clay pots called amphorae. However, glass was still used on occasion- people would pour their wine into hand-blown glass bottles for fancy events. When glass bottles did need to be shipped, they were wrapped in straw. This protected them and allowed them to be stored upright.

In ancient Rome, amphorae were used instead of glass wine bottles.

In the 17th century, the invention of the coal-burning furnace changed that. The hotter temperatures allowed for thicker, darker glass that had previously been impossible to produce. Add in the invention of a cork closure and you have yourself a decent way of transporting wine!

Bottles were still completely un-standardized, meaning that they came in all shapes and sizes. The colors also varied wildly. Instead of standard wine labels, bottles were usually only marked with a stamp from the bottle maker.

By the 1730s, people began to recognize the importance of different winemakers, grape varieties, and vineyards. People also began to age their wine. They were stored just as we store bottles today! They were laid on their side to avoid spoilage and to allow the drinkers to watch for sediment. As a result, the fat, round bottles fell out of favor, paving the way for the long, sleek bottles we use today. However, bottles were still not standard. They were a “lungful” of the glassblower’s air- usually between 700 and 800ml. Thus, in some places, such as England, it remained illegal to sell wine by the bottle; they were sold by the barrel and then poured into non-standard bottles. (This remained the law in England until 1860!)

In 1979, the US set the standard size for a glass wine bottle: 750ml. In order to allow for easy trade relations, the European Union quickly adopted the same standard.

Now, of course, 750ml glass bottles are a ubiquitous part of the wine world. The feeling of a cool glass wine bottle in your hand is only matched by the flavor of the wine on your palate!

Jewish Vineyard Laws


The law of Orlah pertains to the land of Israel and the Diaspora, and simply put means that after planting the vine (or any other fruit bearing tree), you are not allowed to make use of the fruit that grows for the first three years. A partial value of the fruit from the fourth year is redeemed unto a coin, like that of Masaser and Terumah explained below, and then the fruit is fine to consume. The fruit of the fifth year and on is free of any issues, other than the issues listed below, Shmita, Termuah, and Maaser. On an aside, this is a practice that is followed for non-ritual reasons by many quality vineyards where the producers simply understand that immature grapevines don’t make the best wine.


The law of Shmita is rather complex and thankfully only pertains to the land of Israel. However, being that Israel is either the largest or close to the largest producer of Kosher Wine in the world, it causes an issue every seven years. You see, the law of Shmita states that every 7th year, you will not sow or help grow anything in the land of Israel. Being that Israel has been a land of Agriculture since its upbringing, that pretty much means that Jews in Israel are at a competitive disadvantage every 7 years to the rest of the agricultural world. Imagine trying to keep a long-term agriculture contract with a McDonald or Kraft food knowing that every 7 years they will need to go find another supplier! Still God put it as one of the essential laws of the land of Israel, and one that Jews have been trying to work around since its very initiation.

Maaser and Terumah

If we have not lost you all yet, I am sure this one will do the trick! Maaser and Terumah, during ancient times, were systems of tithing, charity, and giving to the poor, all baked into an agricultural economic system. Now a days, it is handled by the kosher authorities and is nothing more than a formality that needs to be done, but does not affect the vineyard or the wineries in any way. The fruit that would have gone to the poor, Levites, or Priests (Cohen), are transferred to a separate financial instrument, coin in our times, and the fruit is free to be used. This transfer mechanism is cited in the Torah and the Talmud, and was used by large industrial companies, or by landowners with too much fruit to transfer by hand or in-person.


Wine Ingredients

  1. Sodium or (Potassium) Metabisulfite (no issues)
    • Potassium Metabisulfite
    • Campden Tablets
  2. Yeast and Yeast Nutrients (very serious Passover issues)
  3. Acid blends (serious kosher and Passover issues)
  4. Sugar (available in kosher)
  5. Water (no issues)
  6. Tannin (available in kosher)
    • Bentonite (available in kosher)
    • Casein (which is derived from dairy products – not good for kosher wine)
    • Kieselsol and Chitosan (Sold as a pair both positive/negative charged Chitosan is fish based)
    • Isinglass (Extracted from swim bladders of Sturgeon, though some say it is still kosher)
    • Gelatin (again questionably kosher)
    • Egg Whites (kosher)

Most of the issues revolving around wine additives lead to the religious address known as Passover, with a couple leading to far more murky and scary locales! Wine can be Kosher to drink while still not being Kosher for Passover. The inverse is impossible, as Kosher for Passover wines are innately kosher all year round.

Passover is a more complex Jewish problem because of two reasons. The first one is that on Passover Jews cannot “own” leavened products, or leavening agents that are sourced from the five grains (wheat, spelt, barley, rye, and oat). This may seem unimportant to many of us, but as we will see soon, it matters greatly to the kosher wine makers.

The second problem is far more encompassing and the one that I believe garners it the bogeyman award – Kitniyos. This law states that food substances that look like the five grains and from which leavening can occur think rice, corn, lentils, beans, and such, are not to be consumed on Passover. Again, many would not even give more than a moment’s thought on this subject, but they would be deadly wrong, as they have forgotten about the all mighty maize (aka corn). You see corn and corn syrup has become the new legal crack of our generation. It has been dumped into anything and everything that needs a flavor or sweetness boost. Why? What was so wrong with sugar? The answer is the other crack that drives our country, the all mighty dollar (though not so mighty now a days). For now corn syrup continues to be less expensive than sugar, and so it continues to drive the food business. Except that the vast majority of Jews in America do not eat corn for eight days each year, while the Sephardic Jews bask in the light of rice, corn, and quinoa, as they never took on this stringency.

Armed with this information, one can quickly deduce that if they want to make a wine that is consumable for all Jews all year round, they need to do a bit more work to get around the extra Passover laws. Do not forget that the majority of ALL kosher wine sold in this country happens before the Jewish New Year and Passover. This is why most kosher wine happens to also be kosher for Passover.

Of all the ingredients listed above, the one that should leap out at you is – yeast, as it is the definition of a leavening agent. To fix this problem people created Kosher for Passover yeasts and yeast nutrients (sourced from the yeast walls); they just cost more, like all Passover products.

The next problematic ingredient is the Acid Blends. They are most often a combination of Tartaric Acid, Citric Acid, and Malic Acid. Until recently it was hard to get kosher Tartaric acid given the way it is produced, but that seems to be easier now. Citric acid has Passover issues, given that it can be extracted from corn. Finally, Malic acid seems to be available. Sugar is OK if you use sugar! Liquid tannin turns out to be easy to get in kosher format as well. Finally, the fining agents are a serious kosher problem! Bentonite and egg whites are the simplest way to go for kosher wines, while also being a fine pairing, as they are polar opposites. All the other options are either not kosher or questionably kosher because of the manner they are produced.

NOTE: There are a few wines that add in corn syrup and the like, and are of course NOT Kosher for Passover. For example a few of the Manischewitz wines are not kosher for Passover, along with a few other wineries. So please CHECK the bottle for an OU-P or an OK-P before you use it on Passover. Come on, did you really think you would make it through a Kosher wine article without bringing up the proverbial Manischewitz wine company?


The Wine Process

Ask most people about kosher wine and this is what they will always come back to – the wine making process. So what are the issues involved in wine making? Essentially everything. Wine making is a science for sure, but it is just as much part art. From the moment the grapes are brought to the winery’s premises, only Orthodox Sabbath observant Jews can touch the must, juice, wine, barrels, open bottles, etc. This can get complicated and can be painful, especially when the wine maker or owners are not Jewish or Orthodox Jews. However, invariably, throughout my travels to kosher wineries around the world, I hear the same story to a tee. The Rabbis and Orthodox supervisors are an integral part of the winery. They clean the vats, they crush the grapes, they press the must, they stabilize the wine, they pump it into vats or into barrels, they rack the wine, they do everything that involves wine – period! Essentially, they are the winery, so what is the problem with that? Some non-kosher wineries in Israel explain that they need to be able to touch the wine, feel it, and taste it, so that they can make the best wine possible. The funny thing is that there are MANY wonderful kosher wineries where the wine maker is not only not Orthodox, they are not even Jewish, and yet the winery continues to pump out world-class wine. Victor Schoenfeld is a world-class wine maker for the best kosher winery in Israel; Yarden Winery, and yet he does not touch the wine. How can that be? Simple, when he wants to taste some wine from a barrel, he asks the mashgiach (Orthodox supervisory personnel) to get him some. This is not a complex issue. The personnel that interacts with the wine are Orthodox Jews, and are always around to get some wine from a barrel or vat, and setup the tastings for the wine makers.

To be fair, a second work hand that is also Orthodox comes at an expense for a sole proprietor (boutique) winery. It is for this reason that small wineries in Israel with a single proprietor / wine maker / cellar rat, who is not Orthodox, will not make kosher wine. As the winery grows and adds more hands to handle the larger bottle production, it has a decision to make. Should the Israeli winery add a kosher supervision or not? The numbers of hands, above the owner or proprietor, do not change; they just get exchanged with Orthodox workers. What does change is the extra cost of the kosher supervision. Do not think for a moment that kosher supervision of ANY sort is free. In the end if a winery anywhere in the world becomes kosher, it is a business decision, unless the proprietor is already and Orthodox Jew himself, and even then there is still the cost of the oversight from the supervisory organization.

So where does this thing called Mevushal come from? Loosely translated, it means boiled. Simply put, it allows anyone to touch the wine after it has been boiled or flash pasteurized. However, it is NOT required to make a wine Kosher and it CANNOT make a non-Kosher wine Kosher. So what can it do? It can allow the non-Jewish wine maker to enter the barrel room, open a barrel, and get a sample of wine out for a tasting , after it has gone through the mevushal process. It can also allow the non Sabbath Observant person to pour the wine and touch the wine, which cannot be done with non-mevushal wine.

The other question I get often get when discussing mevushal is, does the process ruin the wine? Well based upon anecdotal data many believe that the correct answer is – it depends upon who does the process and when they do it. Herzog Winery and Hagafen Wine Cellars have a long track record of successfully creating wine that can last for years even after having been mevushaled. The rest seem to fail because they mevushal the wine at bottling time, which is pure suicide. The safest time to do the mevushal process is while it is still wine must. Many wineries in France “boil” their must, as it supposedly removes unwanted green flavors that come from the French terroir.

With all that said and done, I use a simple rule of thumb that Dr. Daniel Rogov advises (the leading wine critic of Israel and kosher wine as well) drink mevushal wine 6-12 months from the time of bottling. After that, red wines start showing pronounced cooked fruit flavors; while white wines just go belly up. Again, Herzog, Hagafen, and some Welner wines last longer than 12 months, but for all other mevushal wines, please follow the 6-12 month rule.

A bottle of non-mevushal kosher wine that is corked and sealed with a closure, yes those annoying little dollops of wax on top of the cork also act as a closure, stays kosher. The state of kosher for a bottle of wine does not change as long as it stays sealed the way you bought it. Once it is opened, the game is afoot! and the open bottle and wine can only be handled by a Sabbath observant Jew.


Behold: The drip-free wine bottle!

Anyone who has ever poured wine knows about the drips that fall off the side of the bottle. At long last, a Brandeis physicist has figured out a fix.

By Lawrence GoodmanMarch 22, 2017

Drips are the bane of every wine drinker's existence. He or she uncorks a bottle of wine, tips it toward the glass, and a drop, or even a stream, runs down the side of the bottle. Sure, you could do what sommeliers in restaurants do, wrapping a napkin around the neck of the bottle to catch the liquid, but who has time for that? Much more likely, you’ll ruin the tablecloth.

Daniel Perlman — wine-lover, inventor and Brandeis University biophysicist — has figured out a solution to this age-old oenophile's problem. Over the course of three years, he has been studying the flow of liquid across the wine bottle's lip. By cutting a groove just below the lip, he's created a drip-free wine bottle.

Perlman is a renowned inventor with over 100 patents to his name for everything from specialized lab equipment to the first miniaturized home radon detector. Along with Professor Emeritus of Biology K.C. Hayes, he developed the "healthy fats" in Smart Balance margarine. Most recently, he devised coffee flour, a food ingredient and nutritional supplement derived from par-baked coffee beans.

There are already products on the market designed to prevent wine spillage, but they require inserting a device into the bottle neck. Perlman didn’t want consumers to have to take an additional step after they made their purchase. "I wanted to change the wine bottle itself," he says. "I didn't want there to be the additional cost or inconvenience of buying an accessory." Figure out the physics, he thought, and you might be able to build a drip-free wine bottle.

Perlman studied slow-motion videos of wine being poured. He observed first that drippage was most extreme when a bottle was full or close to it. He also saw that a stream of wine tends to curl backward over the lip and run down the side of the glass bottle because glass is hydrophilic, meaning it attracts water.

Using a diamond-studded tool, Perlman, assisted by engineer Greg Widberg, created a circular groove around the neck of the bottle just beneath the top. A droplet of wine that would otherwise run down the side of the bottle encounters the groove, but can’t traverse it. Instead, it immediately falls off the bottle into the glass along with the rest of the wine.

Remember that when you pour a full or nearly-full bottle of wine, you hold it at a slightly upward angle in relation to the glass. For a drop of wine to make it across Perlman's groove, it would have to travel up inside the groove against the force of gravity or have enough momentum to jump from one side of the groove to the other. After many tests, Perlman found the perfect width, roughly 2 millimeters, and depth, roughly 1 millimeter, for the groove so that the wine stream can't pass it.

Current wine bottle designs date to the early 1800s and haven't changed much since. About 200 years of drips, drabs, stains and spots may be coming to an end. Perlman is currently speaking with bottle manufacturers about adopting his design.

The Wine Spectator - THE PUNT

Q: What is that indentation at the bottom of a wine bottle? The bigger the better?

A: That indentation is called a punt, and it’s a good thing that football season is over, or I would be trying to make a joke about the name. Historically, punts were a function of wine bottles being made by glassblowers. The seam was pushed up to make sure the bottle could stand upright and there wasn’t a sharp point of glass on the bottom. It’s also thought that the punt added to the bottle’s structural integrity.

Bottles nowadays are much stronger and machine-made, so the punt is simply part of wine-bottle tradition, though some say it helps collect the sediment as wines age. Punts no longer serve a structural function except in bottles of sparkling wine, which have constant pressure inside. In these cases, the punt allows for more even distribution of pressure.

The size of the punt doesn’t mean anything about the quality of the wine inside, but it can be a bit gimmicky, because some bottles just look like they’re on steroids, with deep punts and extra-heavy glass.

History of Cork

How many times have you opened a bottle of wine, sniffed the cork, and promptly thrown it out? Just what is that thing made of, and why is it used instead of rubber or screwcaps or something else? Read and learn!

Cork comes from the cork tree, or Quercus Suber. This is a species of oak that grows in Spain and Portugal. Cork trees are very carefully cared for - the older the tree, the more cork it produces. Some trees grow to be 170 years old.

Cork naturally grows to form 14-sided cells in the bark. Strips are carefully removed (it's in their best interest to keep the tree healthy!) and dried in strips for 6 months. Next the strips are boiled for 90 minutes, then again dry for 3 weeks. Finally, the cork is cut into the shapes you know. Only 40% of this final cut ends up being usable. Cork must be stored carefully until it is used by the winery.

The whole reason cork is used is to prevent oxygen from getting to, and spoiling, the wine. Cork was known back in Greece and Rome to have this great property and for having that great 'sealing property'. In medieval times they tried to use wood in their sacks and pottery urns. When they developed glass bottles in the 17th century, wood did not work any more as a stopper. Cork was rediscovered and used ever since.

The first corks were tapered to fit into the bottles more easily. With more modern packing systems, they now have straight sides. Some now have plastic tops as well. Champagne corks actually start out with straight sides, and only develop that "mushroom" shape after being jammed into the bottles. They are not solid cork - to save money, there are disks of cork separated by a "cork mash".

You can tell several things from a cork. Many are marked with the place the cork was made, as well as the winery the wine came from. The narrower and more misshapen the cork, the longer the cork has been in the bottle. Sometimes you will see small crystals around the cork - this is not broken glass, but merely tartrates, a harmless substance sometimes found in wine.

"Real" cork can sometimes develop a mold, and lead to 'corking' of the wine. This sad state makes the wine completely undrinkable. To combat this, a number of wineries are turning to synthetic corks that have the wonderful sealing properties of real cork, but do not harbor molds.


(ח) לוקחין גת בעוטה מן העכו"ם אף על פי שהוא נוטל בידו ונותן לתפוח. ואינו נעשה יין נסך עד שירד לבור. ירד לבור מה שבבור אסור. והשאר מותר:

(8) One may buy a stepped on wine press from a non-Jew even though he takes [the crushed grapes from there] with his hand and places them in the pile. It does not become libation wine until it drains to the pit. Once it has drained to the pit, [if the non-Jew touched it,] what is in the pit is prohibited and the rest is permitted.

Kehati Commentary: Permitted - for drinking even if a gentile touched it. The Gemara explains that this is an early mishnah, and the halakhah is not in accord with it. Rather, the halakhah is that since the wine has begun to be drawn, although it has not flowed down to the vat but is still in the winepress, it becomes forbidden by the gentile contact as libation wine. Therefore, the halakha is that one may not buy a press of trodeen grapes from a gentile.

(ב) יין נסך שנפל על גבי ענבים. ידיחן והן מותרות. ואם היו מבוקעות אסורות. נפל על גבי תאנים. או על גבי תמרים אם יש בהן בנותן טעם אסור. מעשה בביתס בן זונן שהביא גרוגרות בספינה ונשתברה חבית של יין נסך ונפל על גביהן ושאל לחכמים והתירום. זה הכלל כל שבהנאתו בנותן טעם. אסור. כל שאין בהנאתו בנותן טעם. מותר. כגון חומץ שנפל על גבי גריסין:

(2) Yayin nesech which fell on top of grapes, one can rinse them and they are permitted. If they were cracked, they are prohibited. (If they fell on figs or dates, if there is enough wine to impart its flavor [into the fruit] it is prohibited.) It once happened that Baytus Son of Zonin brought dried figs on a boat and a barrel of yayin nesech burst and fell on them and he asked the sages and they permitted [the figs]. This is the rule: if there is increased benefit due to the imparted flavor it is prohibited, but if there is no increased benefit due to the imparted flavor it is permitted, like in the case of vinegar that fell on grits.