The kosher wine consumer knows that when shopping for wine, in addition to checking the bottle for a reliable hashgacha, they must also check to see if the wine is labeled mevushal or non-mevushal. Mevushal wine may be handled, and even poured by a non-Jew or a non-shomer Shabbos Jew; however non-mevushal wine, once opened, must be closely guarded, since it can become forbidden if left unattended.
Aside from mevushal and non-mevushal there is also a third designation, which although more prevalent in Israel, can be found in the U.S. as well, and this is the designation “mifustar”. Mifustar is the Hebrew word for pasteurized. For example, the Kalil wines (OU) sold in the U.S. are labeled mifustar. The reason for this new description is because some poskim have questioned whether pasteurized wine qualifies as mevushal. To accommodate the consumers who want to be strict and not rely on pasteurization, the bottles are marked mifustar. Those who do not rely on pasteurization should treat these bottles as they would any non-mevushal wine.
There are three main arguments put forward as to why pasteurization should not qualify as mevushal.
Rav Elyashiv zt”l (Journal Even Yisroel 5751) argues, based on the Rosh (A.Z. perek 2), that cooked wine was only permitted, because in former times it was uncommon to cook wine. However today, pasteurization of wine is so commonplace, as to be considered the norm, so we can no longer consider this process an uncommon occurrence (milsa d’lo shechi’ach).
Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l (Minchos Shlomo I:25) ruled that pasteurized wine cannot be considered mevushal, unless the cooking causes a noticeable change in the taste, color or aroma of the wine. The process commonly employed today, known as flash pasteurization, is performed in a manner that very quickly heats and then cools the wine, such that even experts debate whether it causes any appreciable effect on the characteristics of the wine. As such it should not qualify as mevushal.
Rav Ben Tzion Abba Shaul zt”l (Ohr L’tzion II:20;19) argues that for wine to be considered mevushal, it must become lessened through the cooking. Because today’s method of pasteurization is performed inside pipes that are part of a sealed system, the wine is in no way lessened through the cooking.
However, the prevalent minhag, as articulated in Yebia Omer (Y.D. VIII:15) is that pasteurized wine qualifies as mevushal [Rav Moshe Feinstein z”l required pasteurization to a temperature exceeding 175˚ F 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.
by Rabbi Eli Gersten, RC
OU Psak and Policy