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Where do we draw the line to define what drinks are valid to do Kidush (Shabbat)?

Does it matter if it says so on the bottle?

I saw that some bottle say "valid for kiddush" or something like this. I was wondering if all Kosher wines are valid, of if there is really something to it.

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I'm marking this as community wiki, so anyone who has more information (and/or sources) please add it.

Some things to think about when choosing a wine for kiddush:

  • You must be able to say Borei Pri Hagafen on the wine (so it has to be made out of grapes). Manishewitz for example, makes some cherry wine, which is Shehakol (and says so on the bottle) and unfit for Kiddush.

  • There are some wines/grape juices that are mixed with water. This would not be valid for kiddush. The question here is if you add water to the wine, when do you say sheacol? There's a difference of opinion of maran and rama. It is well known that for many years the eda haharedit would give hechsher to wine/juice that has enough water in the mixture to be considered water for sefaradim. The Rav Ovadia would say that it is not only not casher for kidush but we say sheacol to drink. Because of this, today many wineries print that their wine/juice is also casher for havdala and kidush as the opinion of the maran habet iosef.

  • The wine should not be pagum (disqualified?) (See fn. 6 here). You can fix this wine by adding some more wine from the bottle (there are other ways to fix it as well, see Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 182:5-6). - If you have no other alternative it is better to make Kiddush on pagum wine, than not to make Kiddush at all (OC 182:7).

  • There is a discussion amongst Rabbinical Authorities whether wine that is Mevushal (cooked) may be used for Kiddush. The Rambam holds that wine must be fit to be offered on the altar in order to be good for Kiddush, and cooked wine may not be offered on the altar. As such, it may not be used for Kiddush. Others disagree. In practice maran in shulhan aruch mentions in three places than wine mevushal is casher (for kidush, avdala and 4 cups) (see here).

  • There is a discussion among Rabbinical Authorities whether grape juice may be used for Kiddush. (see here). And there is disagreement amongst modern Halachic Authorities whether reconstituted grape juice may be used for Kiddush. (see here)

My understanding is that when it says "Kosher for Kiddush" on the bottle, it is just letting you know that it is at least mostly grape product (if not %100 grape) and nothing more. It should also say Mevushal or non-Mevushal on the bottle.

  • in any case if you are sefaradi you should have some considerations: it is very common for wineries to add water to wines/juice. in ialcut iosef hilchot kidushin he brings that the wineries today doesn't have neemanut anymore. the statement that you say bore peri hagefen is not under the responsibility of the badats (when there's something they write it together with their logo). some wines write that it is 100% grape and some don't.when they do, they have responsibility under the law but it still doesn't guarantee (the government doesn't have mashgihim) – Avraham Jul 6 '11 at 13:54
  • @Menachem May one add wine to the water, however? I've seen people doing this themselves... – SAH Mar 31 '17 at 19:40
  • @SAH: Are you talking about wine that is too watered down? I would assume if you bring the alcohol level up sufficiently it would be good for kiddush – Menachem Mar 31 '17 at 21:49
  • @menachem maybe (in response to your second bullet point) one can add wine to water but not water to wine (?) – SAH Mar 31 '17 at 22:31
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Any kosher wine (or grape juice) can be used for kiddush. During Pesach make sure it is kosher for Pesach (usually the case, but check).

Some hold that you can use drinks other than wine if you cannot have grape products. There doesn't appear to be consensus on this, so consult a rabbi.

I have been taught that if wine or grape juice is not available, one can make kiddush on bread. (Of course, you have to change bracha, as with other substitutions.)

Edit: I'm leaving this here because of the attached comments, but the community wiki answer (which wasn't yet here when I posted) is much better. Go there. :-)

  • What about a drink that's say 60% grape? Or something of the sort. – Nathan H Jul 4 '11 at 21:20
  • There's actually a whole list of drinks you can use, which if IIRC from when I asked a Rav about this, included beer, hard and soft liquor, orange juice, coffee and even chocolate milk. – Zvi Jul 5 '11 at 4:18
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    @Zvi while Chmar Medina ("wine of the country") is OK to use for kiddush, it is best to use wine. Moreover, not every "popular" liquid is called "chmar medina". It has to be a respectable drink that people would use instead of wine (which is drunk more like tea in England then Coke in the US) – Shmuel Brin Oct 12 '11 at 17:29

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