Lo Basi Ella L’orer – Grape Juice Concentrate

Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 134:5) paskens that yayin nesech is batel in 6 parts water. Although bitul usually require 60 parts, wine is an exception. Wine that is diluted 6 times loses its status of wine, and is viewed as becoming nifgam. However, this is not true in all situations. The Gemara (Menachos 87a) relates that Rav Yosef had a vineyard which was so flavorful that standard meziga required dilution in 6 parts water. Likewise, grape juice concentrate can require many dilutions just to reconstitute to single strength, and will clearly not be batel in 6 parts water. Because grape juice concentrate is used so widely as an ingredient in both foods and drinks, it raises many questions regarding bitul and kashering kailim.

Bitul in beverages
Grape juice concentrate is commonly sold at a concentration of 68° Brix, which means it is 5 1/3 times more concentrated than ordinary single strength (~16° Brix) grape juice. For every one part concentrate, it will take 4 1/3 parts water to reconstitute back to single strength. Therefore, grape juice concentrate will require a dilution of 32 parts water (5 1/3 * 6), to be considered batel.

There is a machlokes between the Taz1 and Shach2 as to whether wine is batel b’shaish or b’shishim in shar mashkim (e.g. fruit juice). Bidieved, we follow the opinion of Taz that even in fruit juices, wine will be batel in 6 parts (See Igros Moshe Y.D. I:62). Likewise bidieved, grape juice concentrate will be batel in 32 parts fruit juice. However, since Shach requires bitul b’shishim, we should kasher the equipment, since regarding the next production, it is viewed as still lichatchila. Similarly, a bal nefesh should avoid whiskeys that have wine added or are aged in sherry casks. Although bidieved there are reasons to be maikel, lichatchila it is advisable to avoid these questions3, especially since today one can buy whiskeys with hashgacha.

Non-kosher grape juice concentrate mixed into kosher wine or grape juice requires bitul in 60 parts. Even though the grape juice is in concentrated form, it is still batel b’shishim. Regarding bitul b’shishim, which is a bitul of ta’am, we evaluate the issur in its present form4, as it is when it is mixed in. Therefore, we do not require 320 parts to be mivatel the concentrate, only 60.

Bitul in foods
Grape juice concentrate is a common ingredient in breads. Although we have seen that wine is batel in 6 parts in water, in bread we require shishim. The Pri Chadash 114:10 explains that although we assume that wine is nifgam when diluted in a beverage in 6 parts, still we cannot assume that it becomes nifgam when combined into other foods. Therefore, if the concentrate is not batel b’shishim the bread is assur.

What if the grape juice concentrate is first reconstituted with water and then combined with the dry ingredients, to form the bread? Do we now require bitul b’shishim for the entire grape mixture? Will pans used to bake such bread require libun gamur?
Rav Belsky said that even in such a case there is good reason to be lenient not to require libun chamur. The water that is added to the concentrate should be viewed as the beginning of the bitul, and not as a reconstitution5. There is also good reason not to say ChaNaN, since Rav Moshe Zt”l (Igros Moshe Y.D. II: 36) writes that one can be maikel not to say Chanan by issurim d’rabbanan lach b’lach. Rav Belsky said that in this case, it would certainly be enough to kasher the pans with libun kal.

Ikro kach
The Beis Yosef (Y.D. end of 134) brings the Teshuvas HaRashba (III: 214) that says that any necessary ingredient which is intentionally added (ikro kach) cannot become batel. The Shulchan Aruch (134:13) therefore paskens that one may not purchase any drink to which it would be common to add non-kosher wine or wine vinegar, even if the amount added is surely batel. Rav Moshe zt”l (Igros Moshe Y.D I: 63) explains that Shulchan Aruch only paskens like Rashba regarding issurei hanah, such as stam yayin. Since b’zman hazeh we are maikel b’makom hefsed not to consider stam yayin as issurei hanah, similarly b’makom hefsed we can accept that stam yayin, although it is ikro kach, will be batel. Regarding kailim, there is no need to kasher אפילו שלא במקום הפסד, since the yayin does not give any ta’am into the kailim. Furthermore, ta’am of stam yayin that is absorbed into a kli is not assur b’hanah.

Although grape juice concentrate is also added to products to affect color, bidieved we follow Pri Chadash Y.D. 102:5 that hold that an issur d’rabbanan that gives chazusa is batel. The Pri Chadash explains that whether or not we say chazusa milsa is an (גמרא ב“ק ק“א.) איבעיא דלא אפשיטא. Therefore, regarding issurim d’oraisah we must be machmir, but regarding issurim d’rabbanan, such as stam yayin, even if they are assur b’hanah, we are maikel.

• Single strength stam yayin grape juice or wine is batel in 6 parts water
• Stam yayin GJC (68° Brix) is batel in 32 parts water
• B’makom tzorech stam yayin GJC is batel in 32 parts juice, but lichatchila we should kasher unless there is 60 parts.
• Stam yayin GJC is batel in 60 parts in kosher wine or foods such as bread
• Even when there is shishim, if stam yayin was added intentionally as a necessary ingredient (ikro kach) then it is only permitted b’makom hefsed (b’zman hazeh).
• There is no issue of chazusa milsa with stam yayin


1 Taz Y.D. 114:4

2 Nikudas Hakesef Y.D. 114

3 See Igros Moshe Y.D. I:62. The wine is not batel b’shishim in the whiskey nor is the entire thickness of the barrel batel even b’shaish. Although there is shishim against the klipa of the barrel, but Shach 135:33 holds that one needs to cheshbon the entire thickness and Chochmas Adam 81:6 says that one should only be maikel btzorech gadol. Also these whiskeys raise questions of bitul issur l’chatchila.

4 Pischei Teshuva 98:2

5 Although Teshuvas Beis Ephrayim Y.D. 36 says that if an issur shrinks and then swells back up, midi’rabbanan we should require shishim against the enlarged volume, Rav Belsky explained that this is only when the issur has a defined form, such as a piece of meat. But this would not apply to a liquid or a powder that will take on any form.