Letter: Issue with wine bottle corks (Photos)

Attached is a picture of some corks from “kosher” wines. Because of the writing on the end of the corks it is problematic uncorking the bottle on Shabbos.

While you can uncork a bottle before Shabbos, that is not the real solution. A guest may come and bring a bottle which you would then want to use. Your company make drink more than anticipated and you would open another bottle. What about opening a bottle for the morning seudah?

Why would any Kosher wine company use a cork on their wine bottles that lead to Chillul Shabbos? Why would any Kashrus agency issue a hechsher to a wine company that uses a cork that can lead to Chillul Shabbos?

Even if we succeed in getting the wineries to stop using them, it will be years before all the bottles with those corks will be used up.

I have come up with two solutions to use in the interim. Picture attached for this as well.

1- Before Shabbos, take any bottle that you might use and use a marker to totally blacken the top of the cork, obliterating the writing.

2- I now use a different method to remove the corks.

I purchased a remover that uses a needle to go through the cork, it then pumps air into the bottle and forces the cork out. It is easy to find a spot on the cork to insert the needle without going through any writing. I purchased it from China for about $3.00 and it works very well. I believe it is available here in Israel but at a substantially higher price

If anyone needs more information about how to get it from China they can contact me through TLS.

Heshey F.,

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  1. Thanks for bringing this up! I’ve had this pet peeve for years! I find that many quality wines do not have image though. Unfortunately the cork opener your describing may be a milacha dioraysa and more problematic then the current one. The issue is making a pesach in the cork all the way into the bottle. Check with your local posek

  2. If you use a professional bartenders corkscrew one easily can avoid any writing by inserting the either between the letters or on the side of it. There very few cork that have writing on the whole cork.

  3. A similar problem I have noticed is that recently the eggs have dates stamped onto them. When peeling them on Shabbas one runs into a similar mochek issue. I have tried blackening them with a black permanent marker but it generally rubs out.
    any other solution would be greatly appreciated!

  4. I have checked with poskim and they are the ones who say it is a problem. The standard cork screw can push the cork apart even when it is inserted in a place with no writing. and more often than not the cork screw will also go all the way through a cork. As you can see from the photo there is no hashgacha on the top of the sometimes it is on the side.
    Point there is a problem BUT there is a solution
    NO reason to take chances

  5. Or you could just take a very sharp small knife and cut around the underside of the top of the cork under the lettering until you have removed the entire top piece of cork slightly larger than the thickness of a dime.you can do it fast safely and without slipping and hitting a letter

  6. Why the assumption there is a problem to begin with? Did any Posek say so? Why would this be different then opening any food product that you want to use now and has letters on it? Are you imposing / suggesting a new chumrah on people by making them think this is a halachic issue?

  7. Oy vey
    There’s no heter to tear words for something that you will throw away. That is only a heter for soser. Please don’t label something a chumrah unless you’ve done the requisite learning.
    Zalman I see your point I believe Rabbi Travis from Yerushalayim spoke to poskim who believed it was dioraysa you can hear several shiurim by him on Torah anytime about this kind of opener.

  8. Many poskim hold that if you penetrate the cork before removing the foil, then there is no issue. Issue is mostly once the foil was removed and u see the lettering etc.

  9. Thank you for bringing this to attention. It has bothered me for a while. I employ the method of blacking out the letters. Always wondered why they need to if it may possibly cause issues.

  10. Norman – I have!

    This is a Chumrah. Black an white Shulchan Aruch with today’s poskim do not assur this. Chumros are ok for those who wish to be machmir. They are not meant to be used to make people afraid of everything.

    Cookies and cakes with lettering on them can be cut and eaten on Shabbos – many choose not to
    Containers or bags or other food items may be opened on Shabbos – many choose not to.

    Make your own choices of what level you wish to take on when it comes to Halacha, but do not make it sound like it is unequivocally Assur.

  11. Norman. Its ok for the same reason the blacking letters out makes it ok .
    The black ink is still visible under the blackout. so to the lettering is blacked out in essence under the foil.
    Also. Not all corks have writing and therefore you arent mechuyav to look for it especially since it covered over with a foil.

  12. Oy vey
    The writer used the word problematic. You labeled it as a chumrah. The fact is the shmiras shabbos kihilchasa is not a machmir by any stretch says clearly that it is osur to cut letters on shabbos. Rabbi cohen says that as well. These are books that an enormous swath of shoimrei shabbos follow. You haven’t explained why you think it’s not moichek midrabanan nor have you sourced your assertion.

    • Just like opening bottles on Shabbos – some Poskim say you can and some say you can’t. Just stop scaring people to think this is a clear cut Issur

    • This is not decision. I have a psak from a world recognized posek and he clearly said it is a problem
      Don’t try to put people down without full knowledge

  13. It’s astonishing to hear comments trying to put the letter writer on the defensive. It’s perfectly reasonable to assume that if michika is asur and non permanent letters have an issur midirabanan then everyone needs to clarify that it’s mutar before being dismissive of the issue. In fact I have heard from a prominent rov that it’s to be avoided. Why the bitterness??

  14. The writer did in fact consult with choshuve poskim and adds that in the comments. Why jump on him? He was only sharing this respectfully, ltoeles harabim. Instead of assuming it’s a chumrah, why don’t you ask your own respected poseik?

  15. It would have to be a psik reisha that the lettering would be destroyed in a way that it is no longer read as one. which is not always the case! I don’t think any of the corks pictured above fall in the category of mocheik. even if it was a psik reisha is not a clear cut issur in this case, although it should not be done le’chatchilah, ve’ein kan makom le’haarich. ask a poseik!

  16. Oy vey
    It’s preposterous to claim that because bottle caps is a Machlokes any other issue that arises is also a Machlokes. Unfortunately you haven’t yet displayed a sophisticated understanding of Halacha. Perhaps you can bring some sources or marshal a cogent argument.

  17. Simple solution:Dont remove the foil seal on the bottle and you wont have an issue screwing in the cork remover.Also u arent mechuyav to remove the foil to check if there is writing, because not all bottle corks have writing.

  18. While on the topic, why do some companies print letters on the foil covering? (Which would make נאך’s solution pointless)
    Also, recently some companies started making perforations in the foil band that goes around the corkless wine bottle covers. Not to mention the wines that open like a soda bottle but with a metal cover which may be a problem even according to those who do open soda bottles on shabbos.

  19. Either black out the wording before shab or just poke through the foil covering, so u dont need to worry about possible wording underneath. Most coverings are wordless foils.
    Problem solved.
    Next topic plz?

  20. I emailed Shiloh wines a few years ago asking them to check with their Halachic authorities whether this is a problem and they very respectfully responded that this issue had been brought to their attention already and that indeed newer vintages would now be free of the letters on the cork. Perhaps if this is bothering people bring it to the attention of the wine companies, they may be very happy to please their customers…..

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