WINE


WINE
WINE, fermented grape juice. (For wine in biblical times, see food .) Wine was a popular beverage in talmudic times. Produced in winepresses called bet ha-gat (Tosef., Ter. 3:7), and stored in wine cellars called heftek or appotik (Av. Zar. 2:7), the newly pressed wine, prior to fermentation, was known as yayin mi-gat ("wine from the vat"; Sanh. 70a); yayin yashan ("old wine") was wine from the previous year, and that from earlier vintages, yashan noshan ("old, very old"). The last was usually diluted by one-third with water in order to reduce its potency. -Varieties of Wine Several varieties of wine are mentioned in the Talmud: (1) aluntit ("old wine mixed with clear water and balsam," Av. Zar, 30a); (2) kafrisin ("caper wine," Ker. 6a; according to Rashi, Cyprus wine); (3) ilyaston ("a sweet wine produced by drying the grapes in the sun for three days, and then treading them in the midday heat"; BB 97b; Men. 8:6); (4) me'ushan ("from the juice of smoked or fumigated sweet grapes"; Men. ibid.); (5) appiktevizi ("an aperitif"; Shab. 12a); (6) pesinyaton ("a bitter wine"; TJ, Av. Zar. 2:3, 41a); (7) ẓimmukin ("raisin wine"; BB 97b); (8) inomilin ("wine mixed with honey and pepper"; Shab. 20:2); (9) enogeron ("wine added to oil and garum"); and (10) kunditon ("wine mixed with spices"; TJ, Av. Zar. ibid.). Matured sour wine was called ḥomeẓ ("vinegar"). -Attitude of the Rabbis to the Consumption of Wine The rabbis considered that wine taken in moderation induces appetite, "sustains and makes glad" (Ber. 35b), and is beneficial to health. "Wine is the greatest of all medicines: where wine is lacking, drugs are necessary" (BB 58b). Old wine, in particular, benefits the intestines, though ordinary wine may do harm (Ber. 51a), an assertion corroborated by the story of the rabbi who was cured of a severe bowel disorder by drinking 70-year-old apple wine (Av. Zar. 40b). R. Eleazar suggested (Meg. 16b) that "old wine" was among "the good things of Egypt" which Joseph sent to his aging father (Gen. 45:23), whereas according to some opinion the "tree of knowledge" of which Adam ate was a vine (Ber 40a; Gen. R. 15:7). The rabbis deliberately rejected the suggestion that abstention from wine and meat be mandatorily instituted as a sign of mourning for the destruction of the Temple. They maintained that such a decree would impose unbearable hardship on the public (BB 60b). At the end of days wine will form an integral part of the eschatological banquet (Ber. 34b). The   rabbis are known to have indulged; some, notably Mar Ukva (Shab. 140a) could drink with ease, while others, like R. Judah (whose capacity was severely tested by the four seder cups, Ned. 49b) could not. The rabbis even suggested that wine was an inducement to the advancement of their chosen calling. R. Huna maintained that it "helps to open the heart to reasoning" (BB 12b), and Rabbah advised students whose supplies of wine were limited to drink it in large mouthfuls, in order to secure the maximum benefit (Suk. 49b). Sleep or a long walk (BB 10a; Er. 64b) was prescribed for those who interpreted this advice too literally and became heavy with drink. Excessive consumption of alcohol was frowned upon and overindulgence was thought to be injurious to health, as was shown by Abba Saul (a gravedigger by profession), who, upon examining the skeletons of various corpses, deduced what the effect of liquor was on the bones (Nid. 24b). A prayer recited in a state of intoxication is "an abomination" (Er. 64a). -Wine in Religious Ceremonies The ceremonies of kiddush and havdalah on Sabbaths and Festivals should be performed with wine (Pes. 105b–6a). Only in countries where beer is the national beverage may the latter be substituted for Havdalah (Pes. 107a). Four cups of wine must be drunk at the passover seder, two cups at weddings, and one at circumcisions. Indeed, the goblet of wine and the benediction recited over it symbolize the festivity of the occasion. During the nine days of av , wine may only be drunk at Kiddush on Sabbath. In accordance with the biblical injunction to "give strong wine to him that is ready to perish, and wine unto the bitter in soul" (Prov. 31:6), a "cup of consolation" was offered to the bereaved after a funeral at the "meal of comforting." Originally, it was ten glasses of wine to which were added four more (Ket. 8b). In modern times this practice has been discontinued (Tur, YD 378). Before drinking wine, a special benediction is recited "for the fruit of the vine" (Ber. 6:1; Sh. Ar., OḤ 202:1), in contrast to the She-ha-Kol benediction, which is the normal blessing for all juices extracted from fruit or vegetables. Grace, after eating food prepared from the designated produce of Ereẓ Israel (grapes, figs, olives, pomegranates, or dates), is also recited after drinking wine (Sh. Ar., OḤ 10:8, 11; see grace after meals ). One who leads a group of three or more males in the recitation of the Grace after Meals may pronounce the blessing over a cup of wine, which is then sipped by those present (Sh. Ar., OḤ 190). When drinking in company, it is customary to wish one another le-Ḥayyim ("to life"; Shab. 67b). -Wine of Gentiles Wine consecrated by gentiles for idol worship is called yein nesekh ("libation wine") and, like anything so dedicated, is absolutely forbidden. A person may not drink such wine, derive any benefit from it, nor handle it (Sh. Ar., YD 133:5–6). Any food or drink brought into contact with more than one-quarter of a log of yein nesekh (or setam yeinam, see below) is rendered unclean (Av. Zar. 31a). Wine processed and/or bottled by gentiles for regular use (and not idol worship) is called setam yeinam ("ordinary wine"). It is, however, equally forbidden in order to avoid the suspicion that it may possibly be yein nesekh, and to avert intermarriage with non-Jews resulting from social intercourse with them (Deut. 7:7; Sanh. 106a; Av. Zar. 36b, and Rashi, loc cit). The prohibition did not include "boiled wine" (Av. Zar. 29b); wine whose taste was dominated by its content of honey and spices; nor, according to some opinions, an alcoholic beverage consisting of one part of wine to seven parts of water; nor other alcoholic beverages (e.g., whiskey, beer, etc.). The interdiction against the drinking of non-Jewish wine is so severe, that even if a gentile merely touches wine prepared by a Jew it is still prohibited, unless the bottle was securely corked and sealed. Most later rabbinic authorities ruled, however, that if a gentile touched the wine of a Jew with the intention of causing him damage by "defiling" it, the Jew may drink the wine; this is done in order to discourage other gentiles from following suit. The "gentile" referred to above is one who "serves idols"; "the wine of a non-Jew who does not serve idols is forbidden as far as drinking is concerned (because of the fear of intermarriage), but the Jew may trade in it since there is no fear of idolatry. If a gentile, however, touches the wine "by accident," it is permitted, even for consumption. Many authorities maintain that since non-Jews have ceased to be idolaters, their touch should always be considered "accidental" and the wine thus fit for consumption (Isserles to Sh. Ar., YD 124:24). Some authorities also state that a Jew who drinks wine belonging to a Christian has not committed a sin which would invalidate him as witness before a rabbinic court (Isserles, Responsa, ed. Cracow 1640, no. 124; later editions omitted this responsum). In the rapidly changing society of modern times, where the Jewish community must inevitably come into closer contact with the non-Jewish world, these laws are mainly honored in the breach except among the Orthodox. The Rabbinical Assembly of the Conservative movement in the United States has ruled that non-Jewish wine may be consumed generally, but only Jewish (kasher) wine may be used for religious ceremonies. See also the various types of alcoholic beverages. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Eisenstein, Dinim, 168f.

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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