Shabbat Parashat Vayishlach| 5763
Ask the Rabbi
Question: May one make Shabbat evening Kiddush on white wine?
Answer: The gemara (Bava Batra 97a-b) says that wine for Kiddush must be fit for nesachim (libations). The ensuing discussion on applying that rule appears to reveal that grape juice and white wine are marginally fit for nesachim and fine for Kiddush. However, the gemara concludes by bringing a pasuk (Mishlei 23:31) that indicates that wine is classically red. In order to deal with the apparent contradiction, the Ramban (ad loc.) distinguishes between red wine with a tint of white (apparently, rose), which is kosher, and pure white, which is not. The Yerushalmi (Shekalim 3:2) implies that it is proper to use red wine, but that other wine can be used as well.
The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 272:4) brings two opinions and writes that the custom is according to the more lenient opinion that permits the use of white wine for Kiddush. The Mishna Berura states (272:12) that if the white wine is very white and red wine is available, the red wine is preferable, in deference to the Ramban’s position. If one does not have red wine available or if the red wine is of a significantly inferior quality, one can use the white wine without compunction (ibid.).
There are many opinions that, during the day, one may use anything which is categorized as chamar medina (whose exact definition we don’t have room to discuss here), and this includes all types of wine (Shulchan Aruch ibid.:9). Therefore, if one who has red and white wine of similar quality, it is preferable to do one of the following. 1) One can choose the red wine for the night and the white wine for the day. 2) Drinking wine is (if done in moderation) a positive part of the festive meals of Shabbat and Yom Tov (Shulchan Aruch, OC 250:2). Therefore, it is perfectly normal to make Kiddush on red wine and enjoy some white wine during the course of the meal. (We respect those who feel that, for educational reasons, they do not want their children to see them drinking wine beyond the minimum required by halacha. There are different, valid educational approaches on this and other issues.)
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