If You Are Hosting a Wine Tasting, Do it Right

What’s Pesach without wine? As wine stores stock their shelves and hold sales and tastings, make sure you know the halachos of what to do when drinking more than one kind of wine. It’s more complicated than you think.

By Yagdil Torah

Halachos when drinking more than one kind of wine

Before drinking any glass of wine, we say Borei Pri Hagafen. If there is more than one bottle on the table, the bracha must be said on the finest wine.

If another wine is brought to the table afterward, in some cases we say the bracha “Baruch Atah Hashem… Hatov Vehameitiv” before tasting the new kind of wine. Read the entire document before making this bracha.

There are three prerequisites to saying this bracha:

1. You are drinking in company; with a friend or family.

2. The other wine is brought to take pleasure in its change of flavors not because the first wine was finished. You must have some of the first left.

3. You are drinking the second cup before bentching

Aside from these prerequisites the bracha is only said in one of the following scenarios:

A second, finer wine is served to the table.

A different wine is defined as any wine made from different grapes, or even the same grapes that were fermented in different containers less than 40 days into the process.

You don’t know the quality of the second wine

Maybe it’s equal to or inferior.

You start with red wine, then taste a white wine.

Even if the white wine is not as good as the red wine as long as the white wine is not of such poor quality that it is barely drinkable.

You start with white wine and then taste a red wine, which is finer.

You start with an aged wine then taste a new wine, but it is at least as fine in taste.

A third kind of wine is poured

And it meets the same criteria as the “second” wine for example you are not aware that it is better or worse than the second wine & you didn’t have this third kind in mind when you said Hatov Vehameitiv previously. This system keeps going; the newest cup is always contrasted to the previous cup the same way the 2nd was contrasted to the first and the 3rd to the 2nd.

Some final notes:

When two wines are served together, it is correct to recite the bracha Hagafen on a pour of the better wine. This may mean that the bracha of Hatov Vehmeitiv won’t be said on a glass of the second wine, as explained in the chart above. Still, that is the correct thing to do. If one accidentally said the bracha on the less fine wine – if they taste the better wine, he or she should say the bracha Hatov Vehameitiv.

There are 3 scenarios when the first hagefen is sufficient for the wines that follow: If it was intended or was visible at the time of the first hagefen, or if the person drinking is a guest at someone’s home.

If the wine is tasted within a meal, each person should make their own bracha of Hatov Vehameitiv. If it is not within a meal, one person can make the bracha and be Moitzee the rest.

If the new kind of wine is being drunk for Bentching – Birkas Hamazon – Hatov Vehameitiv is not said.

The Seder

During “Shulchan Orech”, one should preferably not drink a different type of wine (than the type he is drinking for the four cups) so that he shouldn’t have to recite the bracha of Hatov Vehameitiv because when saying an additional bracha on a cup of wine, it may look as if he is adding a fifth cup to the seder. However if he is craving that wine and really wants to drink it, he may drink and recite the bracha of Hatov Vehametiv.

But of course he may take a finer wine as part of the four cups of wine during the seder and should recite Hatov Vehamitiv.

However, one should keep in mind, as mentioned above, that the cup of wine which bentching is recited on does not require the bracha of Hatov Vehamitiv because he already made that brachah during bentching itself.

Based on Seder Birchas Hanehnin
Reviewed by Rabbi Shmuel Bluming

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  1. ” of course he may take a finer wine as part of the four cups of wine during the seder and should recite Hatov Vehamitiv.”
    Does he recite Hagafen also?

    1. You say Hagafen on each of the cups individually anyway, according to the Ashkenazic minhag. Sephardim should check with their local rav.

      1. Correct, as stated in Seder Birkas Hanehenin, that if Hagafen is needed you first say Hatov Vehameitiv and then Hagafen. (An example is given there and the same should apply to the Seder when we say Hagefen on all 4 cups.) The leaflet should include this detail to avoid confusion.

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