The Prohibition of Gentile Wine and Jewish Wine That Has Been Touched by a Gentile

  1. The Torah forbids the wine of gentiles that has been offered as a libation
    to idolatry. It is not only forbidden to consume it, it is even forbidden to
    derive any financial benefit from it. This prohibition applies even to wine
    that has been merely designated for use as an idolatrous libation.

  2. Rabbinical law extends the Torah prohibition to any wine of a gentile (“stam
    yenam
    ”) and, even further, to the wine of a Jew that has been touched
    by an idolatrous gentile. Even the touch of a gentile infant prohibits wine
    from being consumed. In the case of wine touched by a gentile who is not
    idolatrous, the poskim are divided. Some hold that it is permitted at least
    to derive financial benefit from the wine while others maintain that even
    this is forbidden.

  3. The Rabbis extended the Torah prohibition, as they themselves explained,
    in order to discourage intermarriage. But the Rabbis did not intend to limit
    the application of the prohibition by their explanation, for they revealed
    only one of the many considerations that moved them to make the prohibition.
    Therefore, the prohibition applies even when, according to their own
    explanation, it would seem to be irrelevant.

  4. If wine that may not be consumed, but which may be sold or otherwise used
    as a source of financial benefit, becomes mixed with wine which is
    permitted, the mixture may be consumed if, for every part of prohibited wine
    in the mixture, there are sixty parts of permissible wine. Rabbi Yosef Karo
    (the Mechaber) and Rabbi Moshe Isserlis (the Rama) are divided
    on the law in a case of “stam yenam,” from which no financial
    benefit may be derived, that becomes mixed with wine which is permitted.
    According to the Mechaber, it is forbidden to drink the wine, but the
    mixture may be sold to a gentile, with the value of the prohibited wine in
    the mixture being discarded. According to the Rama, the mixture may
    even be consumed if, for every part of “stam yenam,” there are
    sixty parts of permissible wine in the mixture.

  5. This law does not apply to mixtures of “stam yenam” when there
    are sixty parts of water in the mixture. (Water only!) But: It is forbidden
    to mix “stam yenam” with water for the purpose of rendering it
    permissible This is because of the principle of “Ayn m’vatlim issur
    l’chatchila
    ,” one may not deliberately mix forbidden foods with
    permitted foods for the purpose of removing the prohibition. The laws of
    mixtures apply only to mixtures that occur inadvertently.

  6. It is permitted to add water to wine so that the contact of a non-Jew will
    not prohibit it.

  7. Wine in a closed, sealed bottle is not prohibited by the contact of a
    gentile, even if it does not have a double seal. Even a glass bottle, in
    which the wine can be seen, may be carried by a gentile from place to place
    if it is closed and sealed. The wine remains permissible so long as it is
    clear that the gentile did not open the bottle. Closed bottles of wine, even
    if they are not sealed, and even if they are only partially filled, may be
    handled by a non-Jewish housekeeper in the course of cleaning. They remain
    permissible so long as it is clear that the bottles were not opened.

  8. If the wine bottle is merely corked, so that it can be readily opened and
    closed, the wine bottles can be handled by a gentile if he is under the
    supervision of a Jew. The Jew need not be present all the time. He can come
    and go. Since the gentile thinks that the Jew might show up any time, he
    would not remove the cork for fear of being accused of stealing. If the
    bottle is uncorked, more stringent supervision is required.

  9. If a gentile touches an open bottle of wine, the wine remains permissible
    so long as he has not carried the bottle or placed his hand inside of it.