What kind of wine do churches use for Holy Communion?

Ash Wednesday is approaching and if you practice the religion of Catholic guilt like the much of the Wines family does, this may or may not be one of the few times a year, or month, or in your life that you go to mass.

Instead of daydreaming about this while you’re supposed to be praying (you sinner), we’ll answer this question for you right now: What kind of wine is being served for Holy Eucharist?

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Putting aside the fact this wine can be filled with the backwash of dozens of other churchgoers who stood in line for a sip, the number one priority behind liturgical wine is not its taste. Not that this wine cannot be yummy, but churches have other requirements for this wine that come first.

The sacramental wine has to be made naturally and derived and fermented only from grapes, not containing extra ingredients. Many assume sacramental wine to always be red, however, it actually can be any varietal of wine as long as it fits the 100% grape requirement. The red is often used to represent the Blood of Christ, but churches started leaning towards white wine to avoid stains on the altar cloth. Sacramental rosés are actually a popular selection. 

The cup that sacramental wine is served in is called the Holy Chalice, which sounds even fancier than a Riedel glass.

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Some Christian churches, such as Mormon churches, do not approve of the consumption of alcohol and use pasteurized grape juice instead.

There is a small handful of wineries in the world that are solely dedicated to producing liturgically approved wine. Those producers tend to be founded by religious brothers. The oldest vineyard that does this is O Neh Da in New York, which has been producing its signature 100% pure grape wine since 1872. They continue to only sell to approved church goods suppliers. Other popular brands include Cribari and Mont La Salle.

Keep in mind, sacramental wine is only sacramental when being used in the setting of holy communion, not after you’ve picked up a discount case from Total Wine and popped it open at home. And no, Blue Nun wine is not holy.

What are some of your experiences with church wine?

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