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A friend of mine asked me a question over Shabbos, and I didn't have an easy answer for him.

Let's say that someone had some old grapes that fermented by themselves, so that they're now a kind of wine, but not anything that a person would necessarily drink. There's alcohol content, sure, but it doesn't look good, and it doesn't taste good.
Is such wine subject to yayin nesech (the prohibition to drink wine from gentiles, due to concern of idol-worship)?

I suppose the question hinges on whether the prohibition has to do with the alcohol content of the liquid, or whether people call this liquid "wine."

I'm thinking that it's probably not a problem, because it doesn't feel very likely that such wine would be used to worship, as it's certainly not quality wine, but I'm curious to know if something like this has been discussed in halacha.

  • Can you better define the category of drinks you ask about? Old grapes that fermented is the definition of wine I thought. Just because it doesn't come in a 750 mL glass bottle doesn't mean much. I think you need to provide a precise definition if you want to find it recorded in Halacha. – Double AA Feb 1 '15 at 17:50
  • Grapes ferment independent of intention, IINM. This sounds exactly like all wine from back in the day. – Double AA Feb 1 '15 at 17:52
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    @DoubleAA I'm no expert, but I would imagine that wine that happened purely by accident would not look or taste as good as wine that was fermented under controlled conditions (sealed cask, cool temperature, whatever else is needed for good wine). – Shokhet Feb 1 '15 at 17:55
  • @user6591 I don't know the rules of yayin nesech. Is the removal of "pits n' peels" the only requirement for a substance to be subject to יין נסך? ....that pretty much answers my question, I think. – Shokhet Feb 1 '15 at 19:36
  • @user6591 If you can write that up into an answer, I'd be glad to accept it. – Shokhet Feb 1 '15 at 19:47
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The Shulchan Aruch in Yoreh Deah 123 17 rules that fermented grapes which has turned into wine is not subject to the laws of Yayin Nesech until the wine has been separated from the pits and peels, see there for the various laws. But in your case, no seperating has been done. So it would be fine.

Another point concerning rotten wine would be if it had become vinegar it is no longer subject to Yayin Nesech. The qualification for this would be if it would froth if thrown on the floor. If it would not froth, we are stringent to treat it as wine, see there siff 6 and Shach #13.

  • Another point about rotten wine would be the white wine issue with some authorities saying the problem was it was not used because it was rotten, as opposed to modern white wine which is made especially either without the peels or with green grapes. – user6591 Feb 1 '15 at 21:41

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