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Both bread and wine can exempt other foods from the need for a blessing before one eats them. In the case of bread, it is because bread is the basic staple of life and the primary food of almost every meal. In the case of wine, it is because wine is the most prominent drink that “gladdens the heart of man.”1 As such, the Sages decreed that when one eats bread, most other foods that are eaten in the same meal are “covered” by the blessing recited on the bread. Individual blessings are not recited on most other foods. So too, when one drinks wine, all other drinks that are consumed in the same drinking session are “covered” by the blessing recited on the wine.2 Bread is called “the king of all foods” and wine is called “the king of all beverages.”3

In fact, not only does wine exempt regular beverages from a blessing, it even exempts watery foods, such as certain yogurts and ice cream, from a blessing, as well.4 Furthermore, due to its unique status, wine is not exempted by bread. Therefore, one who drinks wine during a bread meal is required to recite a blessing on the wine.5 Bread and wine are also the only foods that were assigned their own unique blessings; all other foods are grouped together under one of several blessing “categories.”

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So too, just as the bracha rishona recited before bread and wine exempts other foods and drinks consumed along with them, the bracha achrona recited after bread and wine also exempts other foods that were eaten. As such, Birkat Hamazon covers everything eaten during a meal (including wine)6 and al hagefen covers all drinks that were consumed along with wine (when Birkat Hamazon is not recited).7 Grape juice is considered as wine for all these purposes.8 Although there is a view that the blessing recited over wine in the course of a mitzvah, such as at Kiddush, does not exempt the other drinks that follow, the halacha is not in accordance with this view.9

It is preferable that all drinks one intends to consume along with the wine be present at the time one recites the blessing on the wine. However, even drinks that were not present are covered if one had them in mind or if one regularly drinks such beverages with wine.10 In order for the blessing over wine to properly exempt other drinks, one must actually drink some wine.11 Some are of the opinion that only a sip of wine must be consumed in order to exempt all other drinks, while others rule that one must drink at least a cheekful of wine.12 There is even a view that one must drink several cups of wine in order for the wine to exempt other drinks from a blessing,13 though the halacha is not in accordance with this view. According to most authorities, it does not suffice to merely hear the blessing recited over wine or to appoint another person to drink some wine, both of which are common occurrences at Kiddush.14 In both such situations, one would be required to recite a separate blessing on the drinks that one will consume.

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  1. Tehillim 104:15.
  2. Berachot 41b; OC 174:2.
  3. Tosfot, Berachot 42a.
  4. Piskei Teshuvot 174:3.
  5. Berachot 42a; OC 174:1.
  6. Including any wine drunk during the meal. OC 174:6; Mishna Berura 174:23-25.
  7. See Sha’ar Hatziun 208:70.
  8. See: V’zot Habracha p. 267.
  9. Mishna Berura 174:39; Shulchan Aruch Harav, OC 174:4.
  10. Mishna Berura 174:3; Shevet Halevi 3:16.
  11. Mishna Berura 174:3.
  12. Biur Halacha 174:2; Shulchan Aruch Harav, OC 174:4; Rivevot Ephraim 1:195:1.
  13. Chayei Adam 55:4.
  14. Aruch HaShulchan, OC 174:3.
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Rabbi Ari Enkin, a resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh, is a researcher and writer of contemporary halachic issues. He teaches halacha, including semicha, one-on-one to people all over the world, online. He is also the author of the “Dalet Amot of Halacha” series (9 volumes), the rabbinic director of United with Israel, and a rebbe at a number of yeshivot and seminaries. Questions and feedback are welcomed: rabbiari@hotmail.com.