Sacramental wine

Sacramental wine, Communion wine, or altar wine is wine obtained from grapes and intended for use in celebration of the Eucharist (also referred to as the Lord's Supper or Holy Communion, among other names). It is usually consumed after sacramental bread, although historically the wine was reserved for clergy.

US Navy 100912-M-2275H-196 A command chaplain holds church services aboard USS Kearsarge
Sacramental wine being poured from a cruet into a chalice


Wine was used in the earliest celebrations of the Lord's Supper. Paul the Apostle writes in 1 Corinthians 10:16:

"The chalice of benediction, which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? And the bread, which we break, is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord? For we, being many, are one bread, one body, all that partake of one bread."[1]

In the Early Church both clergy and laity received the consecrated wine by drinking from the chalice, after receiving a portion of the consecrated bread. Due to many factors, including the difficulty of obtaining wine in Northern European countries (where the climate was unsuitable for viniculture), drinking from the chalice became largely restricted in the West to the celebrating priest, while others received communion only in the form of bread. This also reduced the symbolic importance of choosing wine of red colour.[2]

Groups which arose from the Protestant Reformation, such as the Lutheran Church, insisted on use of wine in celebrating the Lord's Supper. As a reaction to this, even in Western European countries that, while remaining Roman Catholic, had continued to give the chalice to the laity, this practice disappeared in order to emphasise the Catholic belief that Christ is wholly present under either form.

Eastern Churches in full communion with the Holy See continued to give the Eucharist to the faithful under both forms. The twentieth century, especially after the Second Vatican Council, saw a return to more widespread sharing in the Eucharist under the forms of both bread and wine. In the Anglican Communion (of which the Church of England and the Episcopal Church of the United States of America are members), the use of wine is obligatory in the celebration of Holy Communion; however, a person receiving communion makes a valid communion even if they receive only in one kind i.e. either just the bread or just the wine. For example, a sick person who can only take liquids makes a valid communion by receiving the wine.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the clergy continued to receive the consecrated wine by drinking directly from the chalice, but in order to avoid the danger of accidentally spilling some of the Blood of Christ the practice was developed of placing the consecrated Body of Christ in the chalice and administering Holy Communion to the faithful, under both species, with a sacramental spoon.

The Coptic Orthodox Church continues the ancient practice to this day.


The majority of mainstream liturgical churches require that sacramental wine should be pure grape wine, such as the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church. However, some Christian churches disapprove of the consumption of alcohol, especially by children, and hold that it is acceptable to substitute grape juice for wine (see Christian views on alcohol). These denominations include Pentecostals, Baptists, Methodists, some Churches of Christ, and other Evangelical groups. In this case generally only pasteurized grape juice is used, though exceptions exist.

In Eastern Christianity, sacramental wine is usually red, to better symbolize its change from wine into the blood of Jesus Christ, as is believed to happen at the Eucharist. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, for example, sacramental wine used in the Divine Liturgy must usually be fermented pure red grape wine, often sweet, though this is not required. Greek churches favour the use of Mavrodaphne or Nama, while Russian churches favour Kagor. Wines with additives, such as retsina, are not allowed. In Western Christianity, white wine is also sometimes used for the practical purpose of avoiding stains on the altar cloths.[2]

In most liturgical rites, such as the Roman, Byzantine, Antiochene, and Alexandrian, a small quantity of water is added to the wine when the chalice is prepared, while in the Armenian Rite the wine is consecrated without the previous mingling of water. In the Byzantine Rite some warm water, referred to as the zeon (Greek: "boiling"), is added to the consecrated wine shortly before the Communion. Originally common practice in the ancient Mediterranean, this ritual has been accorded multiple symbolic meanings, such as the mystery of Christ's human and divine natures, his unity with the Church, and the flow of blood and water from Christ's side at his death.[3]

Catholic Church norms

Over the centuries, various criteria were laid down for wine to be appropriate for use in the Eucharist. Editions of the Tridentine Roman Missal had a section De Defectibus on defects which could occur in the celebration of Mass, including defects of the wine. Canon 924 of the present Code of Canon Law (1983) states:

§1 The most holy Sacrifice of the Eucharist must be celebrated in bread, and in wine to which a small quantity of water is to be added.

§2 The bread must be wheaten only, and recently made, so that there is no danger of corruption.

§3 The wine must be natural, made from grapes of the vine, and not corrupt.[4]

This means that the wine must be naturally fermented with nothing added to it, and the wine itself cannot have soured or become vinegar, nor can it have anything artificial added to it (preservatives, flavours). Wines are made from Vitis vinifera grapes. While the Catholic Church generally adheres to the rule that all wine for sacramental use must be pure grape wine and alcoholic, it is accepted that there are some circumstances, where the priest is an alcoholic for example, where it may be necessary to use a wine that is only minimally fermented, called mustum.

One exception was historically made regarding wine-derived additives to wine. An 1896 directive of the Congregation of the Inquisition stated:

To conserve weak and feeble wines, and in order to keep them from souring or spoiling during transportation, a small quantity of spirits of wine (grape brandy or alcohol) may be added, provided the following conditions are observed:

  1. The added spirit (alcohol) must have been distilled from the grape (ex genimime vitis);
  2. the quantity of alcohol added, together with that which the wine contained naturally after fermentation, must not exceed eighteen per cent of the whole;
  3. the addition must be made during the process of fermentation.[5]

Some purveyors of sacramental wine for use in the Catholic Church currently use the following private responsum as license to add sulfites to sacramental wine as a preservative:

"Mass Wine: Treated with Sulphurous Anhydride, Etc. (Holy Office) Private.

The Holy Office was asked by the Archbishop of Tarracona: Whether in the Sacrifice of the Mass, wine may be used which is made from the juice of the grape, treated with sulphurous anhydride or with potassium bisulphite.

Reply. In the affirmative.

(Private) ; Holy Office, 2 Aug., 1922.

Not published in the AAS; cf. Il Monitore, Oct., 1923, p. 289."

Manner of consumption

In the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, Communion is administered under the form of wine either by the communicant drinking directly from the chalice or by intinction. In the latter manner, the priest partially dips the consecrated bread into the consecrated wine and then places it in the mouth of the communicant.[6]

Editions of the Roman Missal issued between 1970 and 2000 envisaged also use of a silver tube (Latin: fistula) with which, as with a "straw", to drink from the chalice, or of a spoon as in the Byzantine Rite.[7]

In the Byzantine Rite of the Eastern Orthodox Church and some Eastern Catholic Churches the normal method is to use a spoon to give the communicant some of the consecrated wine together with a portion of the consecrated bread that has been placed in the chalice.[8]

In the Anglican Church, the wine is normally consumed with each communicant receiving a small sip of it as the chalice is held by another person. This is often referred to as "the common cup". Increasingly common is the custom of intinction whereby a communicant receives the consecrated bread in the form of a wafer and then dips this into the consecrated wine.

In some Protestant churches each communicant drinks from a small individual cup.


Throughout the world there are some wineries that exist either solely for the production of sacramental wines, or with sacramental wines as an auxiliary business. The same is true of wine used by other religions, e.g., kosher wine. These wineries are small and often run by religious brothers, priests or dedicated laity.

In Australia, for example, Australian Jesuits founded the oldest existing winery in the Clare Valley in 1851 to make sacramental wines. Producing over 90,000 litres of wine annually, this winery supplies all of the Australian region's sacramental wine needs.[9][10] The oldest still-producing vineyard founded for sacramental wine production in the United States is O-Neh-Da Vineyard in the Finger Lakes Wine Region of New York State, founded by Bishop Bernard J. McQuaid in 1872.

See also


  1. ^ "1 Corinthians 10:16 Douay-Rheims version". Retrieved 2012-03-05. The KJV, RSV, NRSV, NAB, and REB, translated from the Greek text rather than Latin, read "the cup of blessing".
  2. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-11-14. Retrieved 2007-11-15.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) Altar Wine
  3. ^ "Why Water With Wine". Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  4. ^ Code of Canon Law, 1983 Archived 2006-06-19 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Catholic Encyclopaedia: Altar Wine". 1907-03-01. Retrieved 2012-03-05.
  6. ^ General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 286-287
  7. ^ General Instruction of the Roman Missal (1970), 243-251
  8. ^ "The Holy Spoon and Hygiene". Retrieved 2012-03-05.
  9. ^ History of SevenHills Cellars Archived October 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Vickers, Tara (2006-12-15). "Sacramental Wine". Retrieved 2012-03-05.
Altar candlestick

Altar candlesticks hold the candles used in the Catholic liturgical celebration of Mass.


A chalice (from Latin calix, mug, borrowed from Greek κύλιξ (kulix), cup) or goblet is a footed cup intended to hold a drink. In religious practice, a chalice is often used for drinking during a ceremony or may carry a certain symbolic meaning.

Compacts of Basel

The Compacts of Basel, also known as Basel Compacts or Compactata, was an agreement between the Council of Basel and the moderate Hussites (or Utraquists), which was ratified by the Estates of Bohemia and Moravia in Jihlava on 5 July 1436. The agreement authorized Hussite priests to administer the sacramental wine to laymen during the Eucharist. The Council of Basel ratified the document on 15 January 1437, but it acknowledged that the communion under both kinds was not heretical only on 23 December.

Concord grape

The Concord grape is a cultivar derived from the grape species Vitis labrusca (also called fox grape) that are used as table grapes, wine grapes and juice grapes. They are often used to make grape jelly, grape juice, grape pies, grape-flavored soft drinks, and candy. The grape is sometimes used to make wine, particularly kosher wine. Traditionally, most commercially produced Concord wines have been finished sweet, but dry versions are possible if adequate fruit ripeness is achieved. It is named after the town in Massachusetts where it was developed.

The skin of a Concord grape is typically dark blue or purple, and often is covered with a lighter-coloured epicuticular wax "bloom" that can be rubbed off. It is a slip-skin variety, meaning that the skin is easily separated from the fruit. Concord grapes have large seeds and are highly aromatic. The Concord grape is particularly prone to the physiological disorder Black leaf.In the United States 417,800 tons were produced in 2011. The major growing areas are the Finger Lakes District of New York, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, Southwestern Michigan, and the Yakima Valley in Washington.


A cruet (), also called a caster, is a small flat-bottomed vessel with a narrow neck. Cruets often have an integral lip or spout, and may also have a handle. Unlike a small carafe, a cruet has a stopper or lid. Cruets are normally made from glass, ceramic, or stainless steel.

Devotional articles

Devotional objects (also, devotional articles, devotional souvenirs, devotional artifacts) are religious souvenirs (figurines, pictures, votive candles, books, amulets, and others), owned and carried by the faithful, who see them as imbued with spiritual values, and use them for votive offering. Production and sales of devotional articles have become a widespread industry in the vicinity of various religious sites all over the world.Devotional articles have a long history; in Christianity they have been mentioned in historical works such as those related to Paul the Apostle and in older religions they have been traced as far back as the times of ancient Egypt and ancient Mesopotamia. International law defines "devotional articles" as including "the Bible, the Koran, prayer and service books, hymnals, ritual articles, sacramental wine, crucifixes and rosaries". Such items may be natural and hardly processed (such as earth from the Holy Land), but majority of modern devotional articles are mass-produced (strips of paper with prayers, pictures of holy figures, prayer books, etc.) Such items are usually seen as having little artistic value, as their primary function is not decorative but spiritual.American sociologist Charles H. Lippy observed that such articles are "means of access to the supernatural", and are criticized by some as superstition. Devotional articles owned by famous religious figures, such as Catholic Saints, commonly become religious relics. Widespread popularity of certain devotional articles has, throughout centuries, influenced the public popular image of certain religious symbols, such as angels.

Down Neck

"Down Neck" is the seventh episode of the HBO original series The Sopranos. It was written by Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess, and directed by Lorraine Senna Ferrara. This episode is the only one in the entire series directed by a woman, aired on February 21, 1999.

Florida wine

Florida wine refers to wine made from grapes and other fruit grown in the U.S. state of Florida. Wine grapes were grown in Florida earlier than anywhere else in the United States.


The funghellino (Italian for "small mushroom") is a short mushroom-shaped stand used in the Roman Catholic liturgy. It is placed on the altar at a Pontifical Mass to hold the bishop's and higher prelates' skullcap (zuchetto) during the Eucharistic prayer.

Holy Sepulchre Cemetery (Hayward, California)

Holy Sepulchre Cemetery is a cemetery in Hayward, California. It is a Catholic cemetery run by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland, which also operates the Holy Angels Funeral and Cremation Center at the same location.. It was the first Catholic Church-owned funeral home in the U.S. Vineyards planted in 2006 provide grapes for sacramental wine used by the Oakland Diocese. The wine is bottled at Rockwall Winery in Alameda, which also sources grapes from Holy Cross Cemetery in Antioch, and St. Joseph's Cemetery in San Pablo. The cemetery vineyards are believed to be the only such vineyards in the United States.


Intinction is the Eucharistic practice of partly dipping the consecrated bread, or host, into the consecrated wine before consumption by the communicant.

Louis Ginzberg

Rabbi Louis Ginzberg (Hebrew: לוי גינצבורג‎, Levy Gintzburg, November 28, 1873 – November 11, 1953) was a Talmudist and leading figure in the Conservative Movement of Judaism of the twentieth century. He was born on November 28, 1873, in Kaunas, Vilna Governorate (then called Kovno); he died on November 11, 1953, in New York City.

Mea culpa

Mea culpa is a Latin phrase that means "through my fault" and is an acknowledgement of having done wrong.

Grammatically, meā culpā is in the ablative case, with an instrumental meaning.

The phrase comes from a prayer of confession of sinfulness, known as the Confiteor, used in the Roman Rite at the beginning of Mass or when receiving the sacrament of Penance.

The expression is used also as an admission of having made a mistake that should have been avoided, and may be accompanied by beating the breast as in its use in a religious context.

Misión Santa Gertrudis

Mission Santa Gertrudis, called Dolores del Norte by some historians, was founded by the Jesuit missionary Jorge Retz in 1751 among the Cochimí Indians of the Baja California Peninsula, about 80 kilometers north of San Ignacio. The mission is located in the modern-day Mexican state of Baja California.

The future mission site was found by the missionary-explorer Ferdinand Konščak in 1750, and work at the site was begun before the formal founding of the mission. Construction actually began under the direction of the German Jesuit Jorge Retz in 1752. Konščak's sponsors for establishing this mision were the Marquis de Villapuente and his wife Dona Gertrudis de la Peña after whom the mision was named. Konščak would die shortly after selecting the site leaving the task of building the mission to his successor Retz, but stipulated that the name of the mission be changed from Our Lady of Sorrows, North to Santa Gertrudis. Assisted by Andrés Comanji, Retz discovered a spring as well as ancient rock paintings a mere three kilometers from the site of the mission. He enlisted the aid of the Cochimi to transport water from the spring of Santa Gertrudis and used it to establish vineyards for sacramental wine production. These vines became the basis for the contemporary vineyards of Baja California.The architecture of the mission is reminiscent of the medieval styles of the country of origin of Retz, with carved stone. The beautiful church doors are flanked by finely decorated obelisk style columns.

The mission was finally abandoned in 1822. The church was extensively renovated in 1997, substantially altering its historical character.

Naegle Winery

The Naegle Winery, also known as the Naile House, was built beginning in 1866 in Toquerville, Utah for German immigrant John C. Naegle, who moved to southern Utah after making a small fortune in gold panning in California. Naegle made sacramental wine for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) until wine was discontinued by the church in the late 19th century. The wine industry declined and the winery was converted to can figs, and later to process peaches.The rectangular two story sandstone building measures about 65 feet (20 m) by 33 feet (10 m). It has a full basement and a shallow-pitched hip roof. Walls are coursed rubble, with dressed stone lintels, quoins and a water table. The roof eaves have a bracketed wood cornice. As built, the structure may have also served as a residence.The Naegle Winery was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on February 20, 1980.

New Mexico wine

New Mexico has a long history of wine production in the United States. In 1629, Franciscan friar García de Zúñiga and a Capuchín monk named Antonio de Arteaga planted the first wine grapes in the Río Grande valley of southern New Mexico. Viticulture took hold in the valley, and by the year 1880, grapes were grown on over 3,000 acres (12 km2), and wineries produced over 1,000,000 US gallons (3,800,000 L) of wine. The editor of the Socorro bulletin predicted in 1880 that "We see in the present attention given to grape culture, an important and growing industry which, in a few years, will assume proportions of no ordinary nature."The wine industry in New Mexico declined in the latter decades of the nineteenth century in part due to flooding of the Río Grande. Prohibition in the United States forced many wineries to close, while others remained operational providing sacramental wine to primarily Catholic as well as other Christian churches. The modern New Mexico wine industry received significant support in 1978 when a government-sponsored study encouraged winegrowers to plant French hybrid grape varieties.

New Mexico now has more than 60 wineries producing 900,000 US gallons (3,400,000 L) of wine annually.


Oblation, meaning an offering (Late Latin oblatio, from offerre, oblatum, to offer), is a term used, particularly in ecclesiastical use, for a solemn offering or presentation to God.

Sacramental bread

Sacramental bread, sometimes called altar bread, Communion bread, the Lamb or simply the host (Latin: hostia), is the bread used in the Christian ritual of the Eucharist (also referred to as the Lord's Supper or Holy Communion, among other names). Along with sacramental wine, it is one of two "elements" of the Eucharist. The bread may be either leavened or unleavened (appearing as a wafer), depending on tradition.

Roman Catholic theology generally teaches that at the Words of Institution the bread is changed into the Body of Christ (see transubstantiation), whereas Eastern Christian theology generally views the epiclesis as the point at which the change occurs. Some Protestants believe transignification occurs at the Words of Institution.

Use of Hereford

The Use of Hereford or Hereford Use was a variant of the Roman Rite used in Herefordshire before the English Reformation. When Peter of Aigueblanche, Bishop of Hereford, returned to his native Savoy he used it in his church in Aiguebelle.

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