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E334- TarTaric Acid Fatwa

19 June 2022

E334 Tartaric acid
بسم اللہ والصلوٰۃ والسلام علی رسول اللہ
Tartaric acid can be manufactured from a number of sources. One of these sources is wine lees and tartaric acid from this source is regarded as a natural source of tartaric acid and Haraam according to most sources. According to Linan (2009) Tartaric acid can also be produced industrially from malic acid or fumaric acid by reacting it with potassium permanganate, which produces a mixture of different isomers. A question was posed to the NIHT Ulama Council regarding the permissibility of tartaric acid from wine lees. The issue was studied in light of the rulings of the Hanafi Madhab and the conclusion appears hereunder.
Origin of Tartaric Acid:
Natural acid, present in many fruits, especially grapes. Commercially prepared from waste products of the wine industry (grape skins).
Function & characteristics:
Acidity regulator and taste enhancer of fruits and fruity flavours, as well as stabiliser of colour in fruits and fruit products.
Many products, mainly confectionery, soft drinks, wine, and marmalade.
Acceptable Daily Intake:
Up to 30 mg/kg body weight.
Side effects:
It is not metabolised in the body; thus, it is excreted in the urine without side effects.
The focus of this paper is the manufacture of Tartaric acid from wine lees, in particular from the plant Distillerie Mazzari in Italy. The procedure of manufacture is as follows:

  1. Ethanol is removed from Wine lees by means of distillation.
  2. The de-alcoholized wine lees is then chemically reacted with calcium carbonate and calcium chloride to form calcium tartrate. The calcium tartrate is then dried and stored for further process.
  3. The tartaric acid is produced from the calcium tartrate using water and sulphuric acid. The process is divided into the following phases: concentration, crystallization, centrifugation, drying and sieving.

Lees refers to deposits of dead yeast or residual yeast and other particles that precipitate, or are carried by the action of “fining”, to the bottom of a vat of wine after fermentation and aging. -Wikipedia

In Arabic, the word for lees is دردی which according to the Al-Mawrid dictionary also means dregs, sediment, settlings and tartar.

The ruling on wine lees دردی الخمر, is presented according to the Hanafi Madhab. In Durrul Mukhtaar it is stated:

و کرہ شرب دردی الخمرای عکرہ والامتشاط بالدردی لان فیہ اجزاء الخمر و قلیلہ ککثیرہ کما مر ولکن لا یحد شاربہ عندنا بلا سکر وبہ یحد اجماعا

(در مختار، جلد ۴،ص ۲۹۷ ،ایچ ایم سعید کمپنی کراچی)

“To drink wine lees, that is, its sludge, and to comb (the hair) with lees is disliked because in it there are traces of the wine. Its (wines) minimum quantity is like it’s maximum quantity (in prohibition) as mentioned (previously). However, according to us, the mandatory punishment (حد) [for consuming خمر ] is not applicable on one who drinks it (wine lees) without the presence of the intoxicating effect (سکر) [in what has been consumed], and if it intoxicates then the mandatory punishment is due by consensus.”

In Kitaabul Fiqh ‘Ala Madhahibil ‘Arba’, regarding the Hanafi ruling on wine lees, it is stated:

یکرہ شرب دردی الخمر والامتشاط بہ، لانہ من اجزاء الخمر، ولا یحد شاربہ، مالم یسکر لانہ ناقص،اذا الطباع السلیمۃ تکرھہ و تنبو عنہ ، وقلیلہ لا یدعو الی کثیرہ،فصار کغیر الخمر، فلا یأخذ حکمہ

(کتاب الفقہ علی مذاھب الاربعۃ، جلد ۵،ص۲۷،دارالکتب البیروت، لبنان)

“It is disliked to drink wine lees and comb the hair with it as it is a component of the wine. However, there is no mandatory punishment (حد) for one who drinks it as long as it does not intoxicate him, because it is insufficient (to intoxicate). Thus one with a good nature will dislike it and abstain from it. (Since it is not intoxicating), consuming a minimum quantity will not lead to further consumption. Therefore it is not considered wine, so the ruling of wine will not apply to it.”

In conclusion, it is evident from the sources quoted, that wine lees is not prohibited in the same manner that wine is and wine and wine lees is not the same thing. Wine lees is regarded like other beverages which may contain alcohol, but do not intoxicate, like in flavours, many of which are deemed Halaal with an ethanol residue of 0.5%. If they do intoxicate, then the Shar’ee ruling of prohibition will be applicable, otherwise not.

This is clarified in Al-Hidayah, Kitaabul Ashriba wherein it is stated:

ولا یحد شاربہ ای شارب الدردی ان لم یسکر

(الھدایۃ، کتاب الاشربۃ)

“The one who drinks (wine) lees will not be liable for mandatory punishment if it does not intoxicate.”
And it is mentioned in Hidaya:

ویکرہ شرب دردی الخمر والامتشاط بہ،لانہ فیہ اجزاء الخمر،والانتفاع بالمحرم حرام ۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔و لو القی الدردی فی الخل لا بأس بہ لأنہ یصیر خلا
“And drinking wine lees and combing the hair with it is disliked because there are traces of wine in it, and to gain benefit from something that is forbidden is also forbidden.……….…….and if the (wine) lees is added to vinegar, then there is no problem with that, because it too will become vinegar.”

From the above, it is clear that it will be permissible to consume that vinegar into which wine lees, is poured.

Hence, because wine lees is not prohibited like wine is, by removing the alcohol from it, reacting it with calcium carbonate and calcium chloride to form calcium tartrate, then adding the calcium tartrate to water and sulphuric acid to be further processed into tartaric acid should be permissible.

واللہ و رسولہ اعلم بالصواب

And Allah and His Rasool knows best.

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