A discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the
week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.
QUESTION: If kosher pasteurized wine is touched by a non-Jew, does it become
forbidden for a Jew to drink it?
DISCUSSION: Our Sages forbade a Jew to drink wine which was touched (1) by a
non-Jew. The reason for this prohibition is similar to the reason for the
prohibition of eating bread and food items baked or cooked by non-Jews: To
limit social contact between Jews and non-Jews. The Rabbis understood that
partying or joining non-Jews for meals would ultimately lead to
intermarriage and G-d forbid, the self-destruction of the Jewish people.
[In earlier times, there was an additional reason for prohibiting
non-Jewish wine - wine was often used in idol worship. In that case, the
wine was prohibited for drinking nor could any benefit be derived from it.
Nowadays, however, the Rama (2) rules that the avodah zarah issue is not
really relevant since idol worship is not common in the lands where we live.
Although there are opinions to the contrary, most poskim (3) rule that when
necessary one may derive benefit from non-Jewish wine and business may be
done with wines which were touched by a non-Jew.]
The Shulchan Aruch (4) rules that cooked wine is not included in the
prohibition. Cooked wine is not considered wine concerning this restriction
and one is allowed to drink it even if it was touched or drunk from by a
non-Jew. Accordingly, wine makers today produce two kinds of wine, cooked
and uncooked, in order to allow those who come in contact with non-Jews to
drink wine. For wine to be considered halachically "cooked", it must be
heated to at least 175 degrees F (5).
There is, however, a controversy among contemporary authorities over
whether the pasteurized wine on the market today is considered "cooked"
according to the halachah. Although many poskim hold that the pasteurization
process is sufficient for the wine to be considered "cooked" (6), there are
others (7) who do not. They contend that the process of cooking wine today
is completely different from the process that existed in the olden days. The
old way consisted of cooking the wine in open vats, which caused much of the
alcohol taste to dissipate. The entire texture of the wine was altered
through the cooking process. Today, the process consists of heating the wine
in enclosed pipes. The average person cannot tell the difference in taste
between cooked wine and uncooked wine. In addition, the main reason that
cooked wine was not included in the original decree is that it was uncommon
in those days to cook wine (8). Since our Sages generally do not concern
themselves with uncommon situations, they did not include cooked wine in
their decree. Today, however, it has become common to pasteurize almost all
wine, and pasteurized wines are therefore included in the original decree
that the Rabbis issued against non-Jewish wines.
L'CHATCHILAH, therefore, it is proper to keep all wine and grape juice,
even those that are pasteurized, away from non-Jews. Non-Jews should not, if
possible, serve wine at weddings, etc. Wearing gloves does not circumvent
the prohibition (9).
B'DIEVED, though, if pasteurized wine is touched or poured by a non-Jew,
there are many poskim who hold that the wine is considered "cooked" and it
may be drunk, as stated above.
According to most opinions, a Jew who violates the Shabbos, even though he
does so to earn a livelihood, is considered like a non-Jew in regard to
these halachos (10). But nowadays, when many Jews are non-observant due to
lack of knowledge, there are several poskim (11) who rule that wine which is
touched by them can be drunk, even though they are not Shabbos observers.
Note: As stated above, this discussion applies to grape juice as well. The
Kedem Company has recently announced that they have different types of grape
juice on the market; some are cooked, some are not, and some are considered
cooked only according to some opinions.
1 There are several detailed halachos involved in what is considered
"touching" regarding this prohibition. They will be discussed elsewhere.
2 Y.D. 123:1. See Shach and Taz there.
3 Chochmas Adam 75:14 (who advises a ba'al nefesh to refrain); Pischei
Teshuvah 123:1. See also Maharam Shick Y.D. 150.
4 Y.D. 123:3.
5 Igros Moshe Y.D. 2:52. (In Y.D. 3:31, he rules that 165 degrees is
sufficient); Yabia Omer 8:15.