Kosher Wine: Yayin Nesech, Stam Yeinam, and Maga Akum

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There are three concepts at hand: Yayin Nesech refers to wine that was actually used for idolatrous wine libations, Stam Yeynam is wine owned by non-Jews, and Maga Akum, which is Jewish wine touched by a non-Jew. Yayin Nesech is prohibited in benefit on a Torah level, like all items associated with Avodah Zarah, but Stam Yeynam and Maga Akum are prohibited by the Chachamim for two reasons. Firstly, to prevent intermarriage, they prohibited one from drinking non-Jewish wine, as wine brings people together. In addition, the prohibition was extended from just not drinking to not getting any benefit from both Stam Yeynam and Maga Akum, because there's a chance that it was used or moved by the non-Jew with intent to pour for his idol.[1]

What's Subject to the Prohibition

Mevushal and Mefustar

  1. The Chachamim did not include cooked wine in their Gezeirah, because it's not fit for idol worship.[2] While the Geonim define "cooking" for these purposes as boiling, the Yerushalmi says some of the wine must evaporate. Some say that they're one and the same and boiling is really sufficient, while others require a change of taste and/or minimizing of alcohol content. Therefore, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach[3] and Rav Ben Tzion Abba Shaul[4] argue that pasteurization cannot be considered cooking, because the vapor is mixed right back into the wine; Rav Moshe Feinstein[5] and Rav Ovadia[6] claim boiling is what it hinges on and evaporation is just a sign of it but not necessary. Rav Moshe Feinstein and Rav Ovadia require pasteurization to a temperature exceeding or 175˚ F, respectively, and the Tzelemer Rav z”l insisted on a minimum 190˚ F. On this basis OU permits wines that undergo flash pasteurization to be labeled either as mevushal or mifustar.[7]

Other Grape Products

  1. Even though grape seeds are subject to the prohibition and one cannot get benefit from them for twelve months until they dry and are then washed[8], grape seed oil is not subject to Stam Yeynam.[9]
  2. Maga Akum can only prohibit wine, not vinegar, but if the vinegar had been touched while it was still wine, the fermentation does not remove the Issur. Some were concerned that one would mistake vinegar for wine that's still fermenting, but, aside for situations that require heavier safeguards against intermarriage, the halacha assume vinegar is vinegar and not subject to Maga Akum.[10] If the vinegar bubbles intensely when poured, one can assume it has been vinegar for at least three days and any contact with Non-Jews is irrelevant.[11] Some claim that modern day vinegar is not the same vinegar as in the times of the Talmud, because even industrial vinegar does not bubble as described.[12]
  3. We are stringent to assume liquid from unripened grapes (Boser) is subject to Maga Akum.[13]

Mixtures (Ta'arovot)

  1. Since Stam Yeynam is only MiDeRabbanan, there is much room to be lenient in situations of Safek, especially with Yishmaelim.[14]
  2. If wine is mixed with enough honey, spices, or other ingredients that change its taste, it cannot become assur via Maga Akum.Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag uniquely cites the position of the Geonei HaMaarav, who held that even a little bit of honey or spice can prevent wine from becoming subject to Maga Akum. Although this opinion has not been accepted by many, the Radbaz permits such wine touched by a Yishmaeli in situations of great loss[15] and also allows mixing the touched wine with other wine to nullify it.[16]
  3. If kosher wine was mixed into a solid food to the point that it's no longer discernable, it cannot become prohibited via Maga Akum, even if the dish is still raw. If it is discernable, it can become prohibited, unless the taste of the wine has changed.[17]

Who Creates the Prohibition


Further Reading


  1. Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 123:1
  2. Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 123:3
  3. Shu"t Minchat Shlomo Kamma Siman 25
  4. Shu"t Ohr LeTzion vol. 2 20:18 (not 20:19, as is often mistakenly cited)
  5. Shu"t Iggerot Moshe Yoreh Deah vol. 3 Siman 31
  6. Yabia Omer vol. 8 Yoreh Deah 15 and vol. 9 Orach Chaim 108:134
  7. MIFUSTAR – IS IT MEVUSHAL? (Daf HaKashrus, by Rav Eli Gersten)
  8. Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 123:14
  9. Shu"t Chatam Sofer (Yoreh Deah 117), Shu"t Yabia Omer (vol. 7 Yoreh Deah Siman 11). Reasons include that it's changed from its original form, dried beforehand, might not have had Hamshachah, and there's no taste of the wine in the oil, which is extracted alone. Rav Hershel Schachter questions if factory storage counts towards twelve months, and Rav Yisroel Belsky requires that we ascertain that the Kelim were kashered properly. (Daf ha-kashrus Iyar 5769/ May 2009 Vol. 17 / No. 8)
  10. Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 123:6
  11. Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 123:7
  12. Does Wine Vinegar Present a Concern of Stam Yeinam? (OU Kosher). See also BALSAMIC VINEGAR: SOUR GRAPES OR SOUR SWEET SUCCESS (Star-K) regarding contemporary vinegar production.
  13. Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 123:8
  14. Shiurei Bracha Yoreh Deah 123:2. See also Yabia Omer (vol. 7 Yoreh Deah 11:4)
  15. Shiurei Bracha 5. See Pe'at David ad loc that the Radbaz elsewhere only permits it in cases of Safek.
  16. Shiurei Bracha Yoreh Deah 123:6
  17. Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 123:5