–Wine has unique stature with regard to its brachah and to numerous mitzvos. The Gemara (Brachos 35b) explains that this stature derives from wine’s ability to promote satiation and simchah. Now, since it could be argued that those properties of wine result from its alcoholic content, the question of whether or not grape juice may be treated as wine is a very valid one. However, the Gemara (Bava Basra 97b) and Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 202:2) state clearly that one may recite Kiddush over yayin migito, which isunfermented grape juice. The explanation for this is that while grape juice presently lacks the unique characteristics of wine, it is nonetheless deemed important due to its potential to become wine if left to ferment. This is true even of grape juice which has been cooked. It is from this Gemara’s treatment of grape juice as wine that the common practice to recite borei pri hagofen before drinking grape juice arises.
–Although the Gemara plainly allows for Kiddush to be recited over grape juice lechatchilah, the poskim assert that it is a mitzvah min hamuvchar to use wine that has aged for forty days, as such wine is superior. Note that this preference has relevance for any mitzvah that involves the use of wine.
If enough wine is added to grape juice to enable the taste of the wine to be clearly discernible, then one would fulfill the mitzvah min hamuvchar even though the resultant mixture contains a majority of grape juice.
– At first glance, it would seem logical to extend the Gemara’s ruling regarding Kiddush to allow the use of grape juice for the obligation to drink four cups of wine on Pesach. This is indeed the view of a number of poskim. However, there are those who argue that the mitzvah of Daled Kosos is unlike Kiddush in this regard. Some point out that a component of this mitzvah is that one drink in a way that expresses freedom (derech cheirus) and assert that this cannot be achieved through drinking grape juice. Others insist that drinking the Daled Kosos should contribute to a person’s simchas Yom Tov and that grape juice does not do so. According to these authorities, one should not, lechatchilah, use grape juice for the Daled Kosos.
– It is appropriate for men to drink wine on each of the days of Yom Tov and Chol Hamoed in fulfillment of the obligation to be joyful on Yom Tov. Some authorities argue that grape juice cannot be substituted for wine in this regard, because it is only the intoxicating quality of wine that produces simchah. However, others insist that merely drinking wine produces this effect and since, as we have seen, grape juice and wine have equal status halachically, one can fulfill this obligation by drinking grape juice as well.
– When one makes brachos before and after drinking wine, he is not required to make brachos on anything else he drinks (in the same way that hamotzie and Birkas Hamazon replace brachos on foods). Since this ruleis explained as an outgrowth of the fact that wine is “primary among drinks,” it appears logical that grape juice, which we have shown to be considered wine, would also be subject to this halachah. This, in fact, appears to be the prevalent custom. Nevertheless, there are those who feel that this halachah is rooted in the ability of wine to cause simchah and therefore express doubts about the correctness of this practice.
1) While it is certainly worthwhile to make Kiddush on wine, one who finds it difficult to drink wine may lechatchilah use grape juice for Kiddush.
2) Lechatchilah, one should use wine to fulfill the mitzvah of Daled Kosos, even if he finds it difficult to do so. At the same time, one who uses grape juice for this purpose definitely has poskim on whom to rely.
3) It is questionable if one performs the mitzvah of simchas Yom Tov by drinking grape juice. Certainly, one who will not drink wine should drink grape juice.
4) A mixture of grape juice and wine in which the alcoholic flavor of the wine is clearly discernible has the halachic advantages of wine.
5) While the prevalent custom is for one who is drinking wine to refrain from making brachos over other beverages, there are those who question this practice.
– – – – –
Questions and comments may be addressed to DovidKaiser@gmail.com. Rabbi Zev Smith’s weekly halachah shiur takes place on Sunday mornings at the Stoliner Bais Medrash, located at 4609 16th Avenue in Boro Park, Brooklyn, at 10 a.m. Tapes and CDs of the shiurim are available by calling 718.851.8651 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
 See Rashbam to Bava Basra 97b s.v. yayin koses; Minchas Shlomo, Kamma #4; see also Tosafos to Brachos 50b s.v. lemai.
 Kisvei HaGRY”A Henkin, Vol. II p. 27; Shu”t Vaya’an Yosef #111; for additional rationales for the consideration of cooked grape juice as wine. See Shu”t Har Tzvi, Orach Chaim Vol. I #158; Minchas Shlomo loc. cit.; Minchas Yitzchok, Vol. VIII #14; Shevet Halevi, Vol. IX #58; for a dissenting, minority view, see Yad Halevi al HaRambam; Shu”t Devar Yehoshua Vol. I, #11, and Vol. V, #5; see further Shu”t Be’er Moshe Vol. VI, #53; compare Mishnah Berurah 272:32.
Note, however, that this is not true of grape juice that has been exposed to sorbate and grape juice that is made from concentrate. The poskim debate whether these juices, which are not commonly marketed at present, have the status of wine; see the above sources, as well as Shu”t Teshuvos Vehanhagos Vol. II, #253, and Shevus Yitzchok, Hilchos HaPesach, siman 11.
 Teshuvos HaRashba Vol. I, #165.
 Magein Avrohom 272:3, also cited by Shulchan Aruch Harav 272:2and Mishnah Berurah 272:5; see further Eliyahu Rabbah 272:4 with Birkei Yosef 272:2.
 See Shvus Yitzchok, Hil. HePesach, at the end ofsiman 10, citing Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv.
 Chacham Tzvi, cited in Shu”t Rav Yehudah Miller #60; Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach quoted in Ma’adanei Shlomo p. 13; Shu”t Teshuvos Vehanhagos loc. cit.; Mishneh Halachos Vol. X, #67. [Note that although the Gemara in Nedarim 49b and Yerushalmi, Pesachim 10:1, paraphrased in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 472:10, teach of an Amora who would drink wine for the Daled Kosos despite the fact that he would suffer for weeks afterwards, there is no indication that grape juice was available to him and that it would not have had the same effect.]
 Pesachim 108a.
 Rav Moshe Feinstein cited in Haggadah Shel Pesach Kol Dodi 3:4; see also Shu”t Rav Yehudah Miller #61; Chiddushei Hagriz al HaRambam toHilchos Chometz Umatzoh 7:10.
 Mikra’ei Kodesh, Pesach,siman 35, based on Pri Chodosh at the end of Orach Chaim 483; see also Shulchan Aruch Harav, Orach Chaim 472:21; also compare Tosafos to Pesachim 108b s.v. yedei yayin; see discussion below regarding the ability of grape juice to contribute to simchas Yom Tov; also see Harerei Kodesh on Mikra’ei Kodesh loc. cit. and Avnei Yashfeh Vol. VII, #134, who note that this consideration may not apply to women.
 Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky, p’sak #1 printed in Chol HaMoed (ArtScroll); Debrecener Rov, p’sak #1 printed there; see also Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 529:2, with Bi’ur Halachah s.v. keitzad and Mishnah Berurah 15; Rav Moshe Feinstein, p’sak #1 printed in Chol HaMoed; Kovetz Teshuvos (Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv) Vol. I #57.
 Rav Moshe Feinstein, ibid.; Debrecener Rov ibid. #2; Shevus Yitzchok loc. cit., citing Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv;see also Rashi to Bava Metzia 66b s.v. lifchuchi pachedei and to Sanhedrin 70a s.v. kol zeman; Chiddushei HaRama there s.v. yomar; Yam Shel Shlomo, Beitzah 2:5; Drishah, Orach Chaim 529.
It should be noted, however, that one who enjoys drinking the grape juice performs a mitzvah of simchas Yom Tov according to the Shaagas Aryeh (#65) and Rav Moshe Feinstein (ibid.), who write that whenever a person performs an activity on Yom Tov which gladdens him, he fulfills this mitzvah. See also Halichos Shlomo loc. cit.
 Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky ibid. and in Emes L’Yaakov to Orach Chaim 529; Rav Shelomo Zalman Auerbach, quoted in Maadanei Shlomo p. 13; Rav Moshe Aryeh Freund and ybl”c Rav Nissim Karelitz, cited in Mevakshei Torah, Hilchos Yom Tov p. 654.
 Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 174:2 and 208:15. See there with Mishnah Berurah for important information regarding the parameters of this halachah.
 Tosafos to Brachos 42a s.v. ee hachi.
 See Shu”t Avnei Yashfeh Vol. V, #32; see also Levush, Orach Chaim 174:4; this also appears to be the opinion of all of the poskim who did not point out that yayin migito differs from wine in this respect.
 Shevus Yitzchok, Hilchos HaPesach siman 11, citing Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv; Rav Shmuel Wosner in MiBais Halevi Vol. XV; see also Ohr Zarua, siman 195.