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Revisiting Concentrated Grape Juice Again

By Rabbi Yair Hoffman

The issue of using grape juice from concentrate for Kiddush has been a subject that has gone back and forth many times.  Rav Shlomo Zalman wrote a responsa many years ago urging that the practice be discontinued.  The OU issued a ruling during that short period of time when the OU supervised Welch’s Grape Juice that the blessing was indeed HaGafen – even according to Rav Shlomo Zalman zt”l.  Subsequently, it was clarified that this was not, in fact Rav Shlomo Zalman’s actual position.  Rabbi Belsky Shlita then penned a responsa why the bracha still would be HaGafen, citing proofs from Tosfos.

Initially, some other Kashrus agencies followed the ruling of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach.  The CRC eventually did a reversal  and accepted the proofs from the Rishonim against Rav Shlomo Zalman zt”l and now permits concentrated grape juice for Kiddush.

It is this author’s opinion that Rav Shlomo Zalman’s ruling has not been disproven and that the leniencies are based upon assumptions that may not necessarily have a sufficient historical or scientific basis.  This author has the greatest and most profound respect for Rav Belsky Shlita and Rav Gedaliah Schwartz Shlita.

Essentially, those who are lenient are comparing grape juice that can no longer ferment with something called dvila kaillis which is a solid, dried out form of wine.  The assumption that they are making is that when the wine was dried out, they had utilized an evaporation process which would have evaporated the alcohol as well.  Since Tosfos still calls this wine, they rule against Rav Shlomo Zalman’s position that concentrated grape juice that can no longer become wine is not called wine.

The problem is that there is no historical basis to assume that they had merely evaporated the water and the alcohol.   It is more likely that the solidified wine food still had alcoholic kick to it later when water was added to it to make it into wine.  How could this be accomplished?  They probably had a three step process where a fractional distillation process was performed and then the water was removed by drying with magnesium/sodium/calcium sulfate salts.  This could even be done with a simpler distillation apparatus and magnesium sulfate and some heat.  The third part of the process was that an item such as conditun (mentioned by the Shaarei Knesses HaGedolah) that solidified it further.

The rationale of those who are lenient was quite cogently written by Rabbi Dovid Cohen of the CRC in Chicago and printed on their website in 2007.  This can be read at : (

However, as mentioned earlier the historical process mentioned above is more likely, in this author’s opinion, than the idea that they just heated up and evaporated the wine.  Below is a  translation of the original Responsa of Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Minchas Shlomo Responsa #4).  [As an aside, this article was written mid-flight to Eretz Yisroel for my father’s Yartzeit on 5 Iyar –may his Neshama have an Aliyah.]  It was also posted mid-flight utilizing airplane wifi.  My father, Dr. Nathan Hoffman z”l, was a renowned scientist and would have appreciated this use of technology for Torah.


Reconstituted Grape Juice and Kiddush



This responsa is regarding the matter of reconstituted grape juice, where, through a steaming process, the juice is reduced to a concentrate that is 20% of the initial volume.  After some time, when it is designated to be sold, an additional 80% is added as it was originally. The taste thus returns to almost what it was originally.  Many have the custom to recite a Boreh Pri HaGafen on this and they also recite the Kiddush upon it on Shabbos.


However, according to my humble opinion, there is to question this practice. For it is possible that in regard to grape juice it is only the liquid that actually came from the grapes that is to be considered wine, but not water that is added into it. Even though the 80% that was contained in the juice previously and evaporated away was also exactly like water, nevertheless, since this water was actually inside the grape it can quite well be considered wine. However, when it is merely concentrate that remains, and water was added to it, it is possible that even if the taste is exactly as it was initially, that it would still not be considered wine, but rather water whose taste is that of grape juice.

This is even more so if when the taste changes somewhat, and the taste is not exactly as it was initially. It is possible that one should make the blessing of Shehakol instead and not Boreh Pri HaGafen.


This case is not analogous to that of raisin wine, which post facto is permissible to be used for wine libations as is taught in Bava Basra 97b. There, in regard to the blessing, there are those of the opinion that even if the raisins comprise slightly more than one sixth of the water, this is considered wine.

That case is different since the entire mixture ferments together with the raisins – the water itself converts into wine, as is explained in the Bais Yoseph and the Magen Avrohom chapter 462, that the water changes to become wine even in regard to the law that they are now considered fruit juice and not water regarding the laws of Chometz on Passover. [Fruit juice does not leaven].


Even though we say that “every wine which is not mixed with three parts water is not considered wine” and this concept is even more substantive than “water of beets is considered like beets” since

the reason for the latter is that regarding the issue of brachos we view its taste as the essence, whereas this is not so regarding wine – we say that for Kidd ush and for the Bracha the waters themselves are considered like wine.

It is even possible that a Nazir would receive lashes for consuming a reviis of wine even though the wine merely comprised 25% of the reviis as is clear from the Rambam Laws of Nezirus 5:1and 5:9 where he writes regarding Shaichar which is a mixture of water and wine – ind icating from his word ing that even the water is considered Shaichar.

[See Malbim on the Sifri Parshas Naso note #86. Also a source that must be examined further is the Yerushalmi Nazir end of 6:1where the Korban HoAida writes regard ing drawn wine that he is in violation only of “Mesharais” and not that the water is actually considered to be wine. Further sources that require examination is the Talmud Krisus 13b and the Rambam Laws of Bias Mikdash 1:1that state that he is not obligated unless he drank a reviis of undiluted wine. In the Gemorah there it explains that we derive “Shaichar” “Shaichar” from Nazir. If so it seems that the essence of “Shaichar” is pure wine without dilution with water.]

Itis only in regard to the libations that we say diluted wine is prohibited because we require what specifically came out of the grapes (it is known that the Rambam omitted the law of diluted wine being prohibited) there, ideally we require pure wine and post facto it is sufficient to have even “wine from the press.”


If so, it would appear that we can say that just as we may add water to one part wine, we may likewise add water to this grape juice concentrate in the amount that existed prior to the evaporating since it is close to the taste of regular grape juice which is also considered wine. And we do not say that there is a substantive difference there, for the method of producing wine that the main method of enl1ancing its taste is only through the addition of water, whereas this is not so here [it is just that regarding natural juice we do not add water because its taste is very weak, whereas this is not so when adding water to concentrate where it just returns to the state it was previously]. And certainly according to the Ramah in Orech Chaim 204:5 where he is lenient even when the wine is only slightly more than one sixth of the water.


Nevertheless in our case, it would appear that in regard to the blessing and also in regard to the libations the reason that “wine from the press” is post facto permitted is only because it is capable of becoming “Shaichar” that gladdens and causes to become drunk as the Rashbam has written Bava Basra 97b regard ing wine Koses for the libations. The reason it is disqualified is “that it is not considered “Shaichar” and it is not capable of becoming “Shaichar” like from its press which eventually will become “Shaichar”.”

And even though there the issue is strictly regarding the libations as it says “Nesach Shaichar”, nevertheless it will be explained later that also in regard  to the blessing it is possible that it is only because it is capable of becoming “Shaichar”. Therefore it would appear that even though the grape juice is cooked or pasteurized, it is possible that it is no longer capable of fermenting into actual wine, nevertheless, since immediately when it was squeezed it already became categorized as wine in regard to Kiddush and to the blessing recited upon it and it is also permitted post facto for libations therefore it can well remain with the blessing of “HaGofen” that it had initially, since now too, it is capable of being consumed. [Iquestion whether it is permitted post facto for libations even in a situation where it has not become invalidated on account o cooking, or perhaps we follow the status that it is in currently, where it is not fit to be considered “Shaichar” and hence has the status of Koses.]

Whereas this is not so regarding reconstituted grape juice where they add four part water that never were considered wine. It would appear that the concentrate itself, even though it is not fit for consumption now, nor is it capable of fermenting into good wine, even still it is likely that the categorization of it being wine has not been removed. However, from where may we state that the four parts water may be considered wine by virtue of the fact that their taste is now similar to regular grape juice? Of which it itself is not considered important and that which we bless on it Boreh Pri HaGofen is because it remains in the importance it had initially immediately af ter it was squeezed because it could have become wine afterward.


For it appears to my humble opinion that according to Rabbi Eliezer who holds (Brachos 50a) that we do not recite a Boreh Pri HaGofen on raw undiluted wine, only af ter we dilute it with water and prior to this the blessing is just Boreh Pri HoEtz because until now it has not changed qualitatively, he would also hold that on “wine from the press” we would also only recite a Boreh Pri HoEtz and not a Boreh Pri HaGofen.

For if this were not true, all raw undiluted wine was once “wine from the press”, and if then it was considered as having undergone a qualitative change and the blessing being HaGofen, certainly as long as it is still drinkable it would remain with its blessing of HaGofen. For the fermentation process only begins two or three days after the pressing, and it would appear that immediately af ter the liquid is drawn from and separated from the chartzanim and zagim it would be actual “wine from the press” [See Magen Avrohom 202:27 that regarding wine even before it is drawn out its blessing is HaGofen].


I think that it is entirely illogical to say that if he were to take it out of the press and drink it the blessing would be HaGofen, but the entire duration that it has not been removed from the press we consider it as something that will become raw und iluted wine and due to this it would not be considered wine yet and its Bracha does not change at all. For from where would we ever say such a thing? It is not comparable to bread that rotted or wine that spoiled because since they ruined somewhat we recite on them the blessing of Shehakol. But here this is not spoiled for this is the natural manner in which wine is produced. Initially it is wine out of the press, after the completion of the fermenting process it is raw undiluted wine after which we dilute it with water. Since even when it is in its raw und iluted state it is not disqualified from drinking and it is considered permitted ideally for libations and a Nazir is obligated upon it for wine and Shaichar, how can we assume that its blessing would be removed and return to being Boreh Pri HoEtz? [Indeed it is rather strange that the blessing on the wine used for libations on the altar is Boreh Pri HoEtz, for af ter water is placed in it is considered drawn wine and is invalid even post facto.]


Rashi also writes explicitly that the reasoning of Rabbi Eliezer is because “at this point no qualitative change has transpired, and it does not budge from its initial blessing and it is just like grapes.” Since Rashi writes that it did not budge from its initial blessing, it is clear that even when it is wine from the press Rabbi Eliezer holds that the blessing is Boreh Pri HoEtz.


The Gemorah further states there that “it is eligible to wash one’s hands with it” meaning the entire time that it has not been diluted with water and becomes wine, it is considered like fruit juice and is categorized as water. Since this is so, it would appear that even regarding wine from the press Rabbi Eliezer’s position would be not to recite a Boreh Pri HaGofen. He would thus hold, according to this, that if one were to squeeze a cluster of grapes and drink it the blessing would not be HaGofen, rather HoEtz. Similarly, it would not be considered wine for the purposes of Kiddush, because its blessing is HoEtz and not HaGofen.

As it was stated previously, it is entirely illogical to say that the reason the blessing on raw undiluted wine is HoEtz is that since it was mixed with the grapes and the chartzanim therefore it does not budge even now from the blessing of HoEtz until it becomes raw and is diluted with water. Firstly, even previously it was quite possible to strain it somewhat and to drink it without any mixture of grapes, as explained in the Gemorah and in Yore Deah 123, and if so how do we assume to say that it is considered as something with the blessing of HoEtz?


And furthermore, the ruling of Rabbi Eliezer is even in regard to one who previously strained and entirely separated the liquid from the chartzanim and zagim to make it into juice and it was just place back afterward. For even though the fermentation was just from the liquid that came out of the grapes without any mixture of fruit, Rabbi ELIEZER is of the opinion that the entire time it is raw and undiluted the blessing is HoEtz. If so it would seem that he argues also in the case of one who squeezes a cluster of grapes and recites Kiddush on it, since accord ing to him it is fruit juice and not wine.


Since this is so it would appear that since we have learned there that the Chachomim also agree to Rabbi Eliezer in regard to a Kos Shel Bracha that ideally one should not bless until it is diluted with wine, and see Tosfos over there who explain the rationale of the Chachomim that recite a HaGofen on raw undiluted wine because they hold even in its raw undiluted state it is considered qualitatively changed because it is eligible for kuraiti.  They do not say that it is because it does not budge from its initial blessing while it was wine from the press. Also see the Rashba who wrote,

“At first glance it appeared to me that according to all opinions one would not recite a hagofen until he dilutes it with water unless he needs it for kuraiti like the case they discussed with olive oil..”

[It appears that it was for this reason that the Rashba retracted from this position because the case of one who squeezed a duster of grapes and recited Kiddush upon it would not fit accord ing to any opinion, and also from that which the Gemorah asked, “For what is it eligible?” it is dear that they need to find some advantage that raw undiluted wine has above wine from the press which would have to have been considered as mere “sweat” were it not for a gzairas shaveh from bikkurim, therefore it comes out quite well that the reason we recite a HaGofen over this liquid is only because it is eligible to become raw wine afterward to be diluted properly with water].


If so it is dear from this that the case where one squeezes a duster of grapes and recites Kiddush on it is only because it is eligible to become wine which satiates and gladdens, but since now as well it is fit to drink, we say that it immediately receives the status of wine in regard to blessings and to Kidd ush.

Since this is so, what we said previously works out quite well that only that which came out of the grapes themselves is to be considered wine, even though it did not yet ferment, whereas this is not so in regard to the four parts of water that they add to the concentrate, where they never will nor never had stood to become wine, then one does not recite on this a Boreh Pri HaGofen.

I had also thought that wine mixed with a greater amount of water that is necessary for dilution whose blessing is Shehakol, its taste is much closer to that of wine than that of reconstituted grape juice.


Even though one can say that the concentrate is the Ikkar -main thing and the water that is added is tofel nullified to the concentrate and there since it is in a position where much water must be mixed with the concentrate one can recite a HaGofen like the case of kond itin where even though the wine is just one third even still a HaGofen is recited, nevertheless this is not logical.


Since the juice itself was not eligible to have a HaGofen recited upon it were it not for the fact that it stands afterward to become wine, as we have stated; and it was explained explicitly in the beginning of Kaitzad  Mevarchin  that the reason we make a HaGofen on wine is because it underwent a qualitative change where it now satiates and gladdens, and it is obvious that this happens only after it becomes wine for only then does it gladden but this does not happen with grape juice which is wine from the press, as is clear from the law that in a Seudah Hafsekes of Tisha BeAv it is technically permitted to drink wine from the press within three days of its pressing because of the reason that it does not gladden.


Even though one could claim that wine from the press is only while it ferments and during this time its taste is bad as is stated in Sanhedrin 70a on that which if one drank wine from the press one does not become a “rebellious son” and what is considered “wine from the press?”  the entire time that it is fermenting. Rashi explains that “it bites the throat because it is sour.” In tractate Taanis 30a Rashi adds “for it is not as good as old wine, and it causes diarrhea and is damaging.” According to this since our grape juice has a good taste, its taste is not biting, nor is it sour, nor does it cause diarrhea, nor does it damage, perhaps our grape juice is exactly like wine.


However this is mistaken. For all this was only stated in regard to a specific kind of wine from the press that ferments for either three days or according to the conclusion of the Gemorah in Sanhedrin for forty days, that is called “wine from the press.”

See the RaShash who explains that the Rambam did not cite this because he relied on that which he wrote in the Laws of Issurei Mizbeach 6:9 that “wine from the press” is wine that did not sit for forty days [It is just that in regard to the laws of Tisha BeAv he ruled in the laws of Taanis 5:3 that “wine from the press” is three days or less, it is similarly brought down in the Tur Orech Chaim 552 “within three days of it being pressed.”]

Rashi similarly writes in Brachos 27a that only wine that is forty days old is no longer categorized as “wine from the press” and is categorized as full fledged wine and is called “Nesach Shaichar.”

Also the RamaH writes in Sanhedrin that “until forty days it does not yet have the taste of actual wine.” It is also known that one who squeezes a cluster of grapes and drinks it, it has a good taste, it does not bite the throat nor is it sour, and it is still called “wine from the press.” Since this is so, it would appear that grape juice as well is not considered full wine, and it is possible that only that which actually came out of the grape itself is called wine, but not water that has a taste of grape juice.


It would appear that accord ing to this if he made a concentrate from wine itself and afterward added a lot of water it is possible that we would recite a Boreh Pri HaGafen on this because just as we recite a blessing on wine which is diluted with one to three parts of water so too would we bless on this even if the water was one hundred times the concentrate, if it merely returns to the taste that it had initially.  Whereas this is not so regarding a juice concentrate which is just  “wine from the press” as we have stated.

It is not comparable to the case of a kezayis of Chailev or Nevailah that was lef t in the sun and dirninished in volume. For in those if they were returned and placed in the rain and enlargened on account of the rainwater one would receive Kares and lashes, as explained in the Gemorah in Menachos 54b. For over there it is different as the actual item itself enlargens, as Rashi writes in Psachim 33b, “Even though the rainwater that has been absorbed inside it is not Chailev, because if you squeezed it out and drank a kezayis of it you would be exempt, nonetheless, the entire time that it is in it, the requisite amount is met.” Whereas this is not so inour case, because if you took a kezayis that diminished and cooked it with a kezayis of water, it appears obvious that he is exempt from lashes.

It also appears to my humble opinion regarding powdered milk, where the water is added afterward to the powder, that this water is just considered water that has the taste of milk but it is not considered actual milk. And even though regarding the amount of sixty times for the prohibition of milk and meat it is likely that it is considered like actual milk, that issue is different because there the issue involves taste, and the taste is like actual milk. Therefore, just like regarding regular milk we also require sixty times the water in the milk even though it is just like water, even in this case we do so since it involves the issue of taste. Whereas this is not so regard ing lashes it is possible that if it was cooked together with meat and he drank a kezayis of the milk he would not receive lashes since the majority is water that merely has the taste of milk and meat. We conclude that we do not give lashes on the concept of “taste is the essence.”


However, this requires further examination for also water cooked with grapes or raisins even though it is considered like cooked wine, nevertheless it is considered like wine in regard to the blessing of Boreh Pri HaGofen and Kiddush as ind icated in Shulchan Aruch Orech Chaim 202:11 [See Orchos Chaim chapter 272:5] notwithstanding the fact that it can never become full-fledged wine.


However, that case is different because the cooking is considered like fermenting which changes the water into wine and is considered like diluting one to three. Even though their taste is not like wine, nonetheless, it is possible that they are considered like weak wine which satiate and gladden somewhat, whereas this is not the case in our situation where the water is merely mixed with the concentrate and not cooked and remaining with it.


From all this it appears that even if we were to discount the fact that this concentrate mixed with water can never become actual wine, and even if we were to say that since the taste of the reconstituted juice is equivalent to regular grape juice and we can recite the blessing which follows the taste, and even though the water which is four times the amount of the juice never received their taste from the actual  grapes, even still  it is considered like diluting since he nevertheless is benefitting and feels the taste of “wine from the press” [like water cooked with raisins] of which we recite the blessing HaGofen since it is eligible to become wine which satiates and gladdens.

And so it appears from that which the Mogen Avrohom asked in 202:16 that even regard ing wine which is less than one sixth of the water, its blessing should still be HaGofen since biblically speaking “taste is what matters.” And even though it is likely that now it does not satiate nor gladden, nevertheless he does feel the taste of wine which does satiate and gladden. So too in regard to reconstituted juice, he surely feels the taste of “wine from the press”. It is similar to the case of concentrate of beet water, it makes sense that one may add water and recite the blessing of HaOdomah. The same thing would apply here we would bless HaGofen and not Boreh Pri HoEtz or Shehakol since the water has no taste, and their entire import is solely because of the taste of the juice, as the Taz has written in 202:9.


Nevertheless, there is to deliberate about the after Bracha. Because if this is only because of the taste bu t not because the water converts to wine, then accord ing to this if he drank a reviis he should only recite a “Boreh nefashos” and not an “al hagefen.” For only in regard to wine itself which is normally diluted do we say that the water is counted with the requisite amount and it is considered to a degree as if it to became wine even when the volume of the water is five times the volume of the wine.  Whereas this is not so regard ing juice, where we do not find the concept of diluting.  It is therefore sufficient for it alone to be considered like wine, even though it does not gladden. However, when it is mixed with water which is four times the amount of the wine, it should not be considered  like wine.

This is similar to the conclusion of the Mishna Brura in chapter 208 regarding a mixture of the five grains, that even in a situation where he initially recites Boreh Minei Mezonos, nevertheless regarding Al HaMichya we require specifically a kezayis of of grain consumed in the time of Bichdei achilas pras.  The same thing would be true here.


Similarly in regard to Kiddush it would appear that since Rashi, The RaSh, the Rambam and the Sages of the West entirely invalidate the use of cooked wine for Kiddush as explained in the Beis Yosef 272, and it is just that we accept the Rosh and other poskim who rule that which cooked wine is invalid for libations even post facto is because it changed from its initial form, whereas this is not so regarding the blessing and Kiddush, for it changed qualitatively for the better, this is valid for Kiddush.

However, in our case, after it has been cooked so much that there is only a concentrate of one fifth of its initial volume, it is not suitable for drinking.  At this point in its process, I had thought that it is invalid for Kiddush, and if so how may we assume that it returns to its permitted state through the addition of water? Although we know that this is not entirely despoiled, since through the introd uction of water it can be fixed and returned to close to its initial taste, but nevertheless it is not perfect, and it is known that the taste is altered negatively somewhat. And even though Rabbi Eliezer holds that its preparation for Kiddush only comes about through dilution with water, there it is different because that is the main manner of preparing wine, whereas this is not so in our case. How do we know that it returns to its permissible status since its taste is slightly affected negatively through the cooking process even after it is reconstituted with water?grapejuice

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