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About Kosher wine from http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com

Kosher wine results only when wine is produced according to Judaism's religious law, specifically, the Jewish dietary laws of (kashrut) and then is known as "kosher wine". However other branches of Judaism are more "lenient" with these laws. Reform Judaism does not observe these laws.

According to Orthodox Judaism

In general, kashrut deals with avoiding specific forbidden foods, none of which are normally used in winemaking, so it might seem that all wines are automatically " kosher ". However, because of wine's special role in many non-Jewish religions, the kashrut laws specify that wine cannot be considered kosher if it might have been used for "idolatry" (It is a term used by many religions to describe the worship of a false deity, which is an affront to their understanding of divinity. Many religions consider the beliefs or practices of other religions to be idolatrous.
Some of these concepts include:

  • Yayin Nesekh (Wine that has been poured to an idol, or with idolatry in mind.)
  • Stam Yainom (Wine that may have been touched by someone who might believe in idolotry, but wouldn't have had it in mind at the time of contact.)
  • When kosher wine is mevushal ("cooked" or "boiled"), it thereby becomes unfit for idolatrous use and will keep the status of kosher wine even if subsequently touched by an idolator.

In recent times, there has been an increased demand for kosher wines and a number of wine producing countries now produce a wide variety of sophisticated kosher wines under strict rabbinical supervision, particularly in Israel , the United States , France , Italy and South Africa . Two of the world's largest producers and importers of kosher wines, Kedem and Manischewitz, are both based in the northeast of the USA .

When sold commercially

When kosher wine is produced, marketed and sold commercially to Orthodox Jews, it must have the hechsher ("seal of approval") of a supervising agency or organization (such as the "OU" sign of the Orthodox Union), or of an authoritative ruby who is preferably also a posek ("decisor" of Jewish law) or be supervised by a beth din ("Jewish religious court of law") according to Orthodox Judaism.

According to Conservative Judaism

A number of halakhic authorities within the Conservative movement, hold that wines produced in western countries, are acceptable. Specifically, in situations in which there is no reason to believe that the production of such wines is conducted as part of paganistic (or indeed, any ) religious practice, the wines are thus kosher, regardless of whether or not their production is subject to rabbinical supervision. This position holds for wines produced within the United States , almost exclusively, and is codified in several pronouncements of the Rabbinical Assembly (RA is the official international body of Conservative Rabbis, with some 1400 members), the halakhic organization of Conservative Judaism in the United States . There are, however, a number of notable poskim, even within the Conservative Jewish community, who oppose this apparent "leniency", or who accept it with a number of caveats.

Role of wine in Jewish holidays and rituals

Almost all Jewish holidays, especially the Passover Seder where all present drink four cups of wine, on Purim for the festive meal, and on the Shabbat require obligatory blessings over filled cups of kosher wine that are then drunk. At Jewish marriages, circumcisions, and at Redemption of First-born ceremonies, the obligatory blessing of Borei Pri HaGafen ("Blessed are you O Lord, Who created the fruit of the vine") is almost always recited over kosher wine (or grape juice.)

According to the teachings of the Midrash, the "forbidden fruit" that Eve ate and which she gave to Adam was the grape from which wine is derived. The capacity of wine to cause drunkenness with its consequent loosening of "inhibitions" is described by the ancient rabbis in Hebrew as nichnas yayin, yatza sod ("wine enters, [and one's personal] secret[s] exit".) Another similarly evocative expression relating to wine is: Ein Simcha Ela BeBasar Veyayin ("There is no joy except through [eating] meat and [drinking] wine".)

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