The Armchair Liturgist: Kind of Wine

armchair1.jpgThis week’s Zenit Liturgy feature question covers the topic of wine. You can check the link ahead of time, or you can pontificate from the purple chair (what happens in your parish and/or what would happen were you in charge):

Do you prefer specially produced altar wine? Is table wine okay? Here’s a practical question: you know the wine has to be grape wine, but is the permissible percentage only 100? Or is 51% enough?


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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10 Responses to The Armchair Liturgist: Kind of Wine

  1. Anne says:

    Not sure of the brand but we use a white wine at my parish. I asked my pastor the reason since we are fairly new there. He used to use a red but folks were complaining and refraining from the cup at communion. The solution…wine tasting at a parish council meeting. The members decided on white. Go figure.

  2. FrMichael says:

    This is a topic which touches upon your oft-discussed scorn of conducting liturgy on the cheap. In my experience, box and table wines are used because they are cheaper than the sacramental wines, liceity be damned.


  3. Tony says:

    So is it ok to use Earnest & Julio Gallo to consecrate into the true blood of our Lord and Savior?

    I think this is a question that answers itself.

    And if parishioners are avoiding the cup because they don’t like the taste, they still get 100% of their recommended daily allowance of Jesus in the host (or any microscopic fraction thereof)

    If it were my parish, and cost were an issue, I would donate a year’s worth of altar wine. It’s that important to me. I did the same for votive candles and they are much less important.

  4. Anne says:

    “So is it ok to use Earnest & Julio Gallo to consecrate into the true blood of our Lord and Savior?”

    What would be the problem if it is 100% wine?
    Jesus doesn’t like Gallo?

  5. Liam says:

    I don’t get there being any problem with any commercial wine that is 100% pure grape wine – the assumption that box or table wines are per suspect is unwarranted. (Mustum, however, because it’s not just grape juice, is something one would be careful about commercially procuring – there can be confusion between mustum and other grape products.)

    If you want to query, ask the vintner for a written confirmation. Or, if you feel you might not be taken seriously, ask the office of worship to do so.

  6. If Todd’s question is if it’s okay to have 51% grape wine and 49% plum or rice wine, or something else like that, then no. It’s gotta be all grape (or raisin).

    Most often I hear proponents of using only wine labelled “altar” or “sacramental” wine say that it’s the sulfites in other wines that prevent these bottled wines from being used for Mass. However, these sulfites occur naturally in wine during fermentation, and some winemakers add a small additional amount as a preservative. The presence of sulfites in wine has been acknowledged as a preservative or additive that doesn’t prohibit its use in Mass. From a dubium:

    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.

    The “contains sulfites” notice on bottles is a new practice required by law to warn those who may be allergic.

    So, assuming that you can be certain that the wine you buy off the shelf, whether more or less expensive than “altar wine,” meets all the other requirements, I don’t see why it couldn’t be used.

    What should be against the law is using wine that tastes awful or bland that you wouldn’t serve to your own dinner guests. :)

  7. Jimmy Mac says:

    Is this TRULY a serious topic of debate?

  8. To the question of whether it has to be 100% grape… in the link, quoting Redemptionis Sacramentum:

    “The wine that is used in the most sacred celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice must be natural, from the fruit of the grape, pure and incorrupt, not mixed with other substances.”

    This is cited to: “Lk 22,18; Code of Canon Law, can. 924 §§ 1, 3; Missale Romanum, Institutio Generalis, n. 322.”

  9. Chase says:

    There are many new wineries opening up in areas throughout the US. Chances are there’s a winery within a reasonable distance of one’s parish.

    I would suggest trying to work with a local winery to ensure both the necessary process in making the wine and maybe you’ll even secure an agreeable price at the same time. Seems like a neat idea that could be worked out easily enough.

  10. First of all, if symbolism is not nominalism, but an effort to “go beyond” to the essence (or if you prefer, the iconicity) of things, then there should be no white or “blush” wine at the Eucharist. We’re talking the blood of Christ here, not His plasma.

    Second, if the Liturgy is the type of the Wedding Feast of the Kingdom of Heaven, then no cheap wine. I do not recall at the Wedding at Cana that the wine steward said, “But you have kept the worst wine until now”, about Christ’s first miracle. Nor should this be for the mystery of the Supper of the Lamb, either.

    Third, our Lord was not very partial to attempts for people to make money off of the Temple of the Lord God. That was what the driving out of the moneychangers was all about. So, no “altar” or “church” wine, either.

    Finally, we in the East think that the Eucharist is to be given to all who have been baptized into Christ, including infants. Even an infant can taste bad wine. So, no “sour” wine.

    I personally prefer port, as that takes care of what should be considered the “obvious”, as written above. But do what you will.

    And now I shall duck for cover.

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