Buying communion wine

Our church warden was worried yesterday as the wine he buys for the Eucharist has suddenly become more expensive.
I hadn’t realized we used a specific church wine; surely, if the wine we use is going to be consecrated anyway, we could just get whatever red is on offer at the supermarket? Am I missing something here?
Obviously it’s different for churches that use the non-alcoholic variety, but that doesn’t apply in our case.
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Comments

  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Yes, you can get whatever red wine you like from the supermarket. But some are much more palatable than others. A nice port wine is often chosen for communion.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Sevenhill Vineyard in South Australia is owned by the Jesuits - who can go beyond them? Good for home as well.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    It's often rather heavy and slightly sweet. I think it's because that sort of wine keeps better.
  • I think also that Communion wine tends to be fortified. That way it keeps better if you don't use the whole bottle at once!
    A church I used to know used port, and we buy it by the 10l in a wine box, so keeping it is not a problem. It would just be a PITA to be trying to store large numbers of bottles (we're a a cathedral, so get through a reasonable amount).
  • Baptist TrainfanBaptist Trainfan Shipmate
    edited February 18
    Baptist churches tend to use the non-alcoholic wine. I once had a "Communion strike" on my hands as people refused to drink it! Fortunately there are two or three brands on the market. The most commonly-used variety used to say on the label "not intended for use as a beverage" which always made me laugh! They've now changed the wording. It is laced with preservatives as most churches re-use what isn't used at a service (remember that we use "wee cuppies" and we don't "consecrate" as such).

    Where I lived previously, one independent wine shop actually sold (and still sells) "Communion Wine". It's Fairtrade and organic: "Made by the Stellar Winery in South Africa from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes with a splash of Muscat. It is lightly fortified to 15% abv to enhance its keeping properties. Poterion is also certified organic and suitable for vegetarians and vegans". I like the sound of it!

    BTW I do have a problem with churches that use white wine for Communion - and, yes, I have come across it (something like Tokay).
  • angloidangloid Shipmate

    BTW I do have a problem with churches that use white wine for Communion - and, yes, I have come across it (something like Tokay).
    Why, may I ask? The eucharist is not about 'let's pretend' – as if the wine had to look like blood. After all, bread (whether wafer, loaf or whatever) looks nothing like flesh.

    White wine is often preferred because it is less likely to stain linens. Though in practice it tends to be more amber than white. And somewhat fortified so that it doesn't go off too soon.
  • Baptist TrainfanBaptist Trainfan Shipmate
    edited February 18
    I had never really thought about the bread "not looking like flesh" - in fact it doesn't even look like Passover bread either! ... But somehow, at least in our memorialist tradition, it does seem appropriate for the wine to look (a bit) like Jesus' blood. (And yes, "amber" would have been a better description).
  • We use whatever fortified wine is on offer in the local supermarkets
  • I once had to buy a bottle of wine for a Unitarian communion service (the church was at the Christian end of the denomination so had communion occasionally). The minister was very insistent that it must be WHITE - I think in this case he was worried that it might just tempt some unwary Unitarian to see it as Jesus' blood!
  • angloid wrote: »

    The eucharist is not about 'let's pretend' – as if the wine had to look like blood. After all, bread (whether wafer, loaf or whatever) looks nothing like flesh.
    And in some instances, the bread looks nothing like bread. :wink:

    I’ve known of some churches that provide both wine and non-alcoholic wine in wee cuppies, and that will use red for one and white for other to make it easy to distinguish between the two.

  • Stick to red grape juice in sealed cartons. Cheap and easily found in most supermarkets
  • AlbertusAlbertus Shipmate
    edited February 18
    Don't go for table wine, because it won't keep and- unless you get through a lot of wine every week- you'll want something that will. Inexpensive fortified wine will do the job- indeed, even those pseudo-ports and pseudo-sherries that are made from concentrate and sold in the UK as 'British fortified wine' at about £5-6 a litre. (Tho' if I were in charge of buying communion wine I think I'd pick up the suggestion that BT didn't mean to make, and use Tokay for festivals :smile: )
  • I dunno, when we were in charge of buying our own wine we would pick up something that was fine for the table (on the sweet side, since our people weren't accustomed to wine) and after using half the bottle for communion, we'd take the other half home for dinner. It wasn't that expensive to get something decent.
  • Albertus wrote: »
    I think I'd pick up the suggestion that BT didn't mean to make, and use Tokay for festivals :smile: )
    Aldi and Lidl both do excellent cheap Tokay Aszu in the month or so before Christmas ....

  • There is no such thing as "non-alcoholic wine." Perhaps you're thinking of bad grape juice?

    Fortified wines are used for communion; the extra alcohol therein has been demonstrated to keep the germs down. That means that we're talking primarily of port or sherry.

    Color is a matter of taste.

  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Yes, the reason that a silver chalice is often used for communion is that silver doesn't harbour germs.
  • Nick Tamen wrote: »
    angloid wrote: »

    The eucharist is not about 'let's pretend' – as if the wine had to look like blood. After all, bread (whether wafer, loaf or whatever) looks nothing like flesh.
    And in some instances, the bread looks nothing like bread. :wink:


    Certainly the white sliced chorley-wood loaf the local Church of Scotland uses in no way resembles real bread. If I'm responsible for arranging communion (i.e. Maundy Thursday) then I just make unleavened bread. I quietly suffer the preservative filled, non-alcoholic wine substitute in deference to our recovering brothers and sisters, one of whom has in the past recounted the story of a multi-day bender sparked by alcoholic communion wine. Personally I liked the practice of my university chapel in consecrating one cup of wine and another of grape juice to allow anyone who cared to discreetly choose which station to receive from.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    If you are in a denomination that doesn't have the option of using non alcoholic wine in communion then it is perfectly fine to receive in one kind only. Some people have difficulty swallowing wafers and only receive the wine.
  • Rublev wrote: »
    Yes, the reason that a silver chalice is often used for communion is that silver doesn't harbour germs.
    That's incorrect. There's no failsafe on germs with a shared cup unless you wash with alcohol gel and soap between users. I venture to suggest that this wouldn't really work at the rail.
  • Rublev wrote: »
    Yes, the reason that a silver chalice is often used for communion is that silver doesn't harbour germs.

    Hmmm. I've looked at a number of sensible articles online and the consensus seems to be:
    1. Silver may have some antimicrobial properties but, if it does, we don't know how they work;
    2. The short time-lapse between each person communicating means that any anti-microbial effect is non-existent anyway;
    3. Using a purificator removes a high percentage of bacteria;
    4. Those with active labial and respiratory infections should refrain from communicating;
    5. The use of individual cups removes any risk of infection.

    However, the amount of bacteria deposited on the chalice by each communicant is small and there is apparently no documented evidence of anyone being infected through the use of a common chalice - in fact one more likely to pick up an infection through touching the church's door handle!
  • Communion wine is normally fortified
    Rossweisse wrote: »
    There is no such thing as "non-alcoholic wine." Perhaps you're thinking of bad grape juice?

    There is. What do you think wine vinegar is? I assume that the stuff they use for communion is a diluted version of this with added sweetener and preservative. That is it is fermented but the alcohol is then removed. The stuff for the table do not have the sweetener and preservative.
  • Most parishes I've served in New England used a brand of golden sherry, sweet but not too sweet, and buy it by the gallon at the local liquor and wine shop. If there was a sale on we stocked up by the caseful. Our altar guild found it released any stain more easily than darker sherries or ports. (A side note: One monastery I frequented in the 1980's used sparkling Burgundy for feast days!). The higher alcohol content in sherry or port prevents spoilage for those who reserve the Sacrament for taking to the ill or homebound.)
  • Jengie Jon wrote: »
    Communion wine is normally fortified
    Rossweisse wrote: »
    There is no such thing as "non-alcoholic wine." Perhaps you're thinking of bad grape juice?

    There is. What do you think wine vinegar is? I assume that the stuff they use for communion is a diluted version of this with added sweetener and preservative. That is it is fermented but the alcohol is then removed. The stuff for the table do not have the sweetener and preservative.
    Details: https://tinyurl.com/yyzkds2f

  • Nick Tamen wrote: »
    angloid wrote: »

    The eucharist is not about 'let's pretend' – as if the wine had to look like blood. After all, bread (whether wafer, loaf or whatever) looks nothing like flesh.
    And in some instances, the bread looks nothing like bread. :wink:


    Certainly the white sliced chorley-wood loaf the local Church of Scotland uses in no way resembles real bread.
    I was being naughty and thinking of wafers. But you’re right as to the cubes of sliced bread of my childhood.

    Personally I liked the practice of my university chapel in consecrating one cup of wine and another of grape juice to allow anyone who cared to discreetly choose which station to receive from.
    Agreed.

    We did that for a time with gluten-free bread. (We have a number of people with celiacs in the congregation.) A year or two ago, we went to gluten-free bread only. I realize the disciplines and canons of some churches would not allow that, but ours do.

    Rossweisse wrote: »
    There is no such thing as "non-alcoholic wine."
    Of course there is, though some vintners call it alcohol-free or dealcoholized wine. It’s wine from which the alcohol has been removed after fermentation.

  • Albertus wrote: »
    I think I'd pick up the suggestion that BT didn't mean to make, and use Tokay for festivals :smile: )
    Aldi and Lidl both do excellent cheap Tokay Aszu in the month or so before Christmas ....

    I'll remember that- only nine months to go...
  • Rossweisse wrote: »
    There is no such thing as "non-alcoholic wine."
    Of course there is, though some vintners call it alcohol-free or dealcoholized wine. It’s wine from which the alcohol has been removed after fermentation.

    [/quote]
    Yes, come to think of it there is a perfectly acceptable dealcoholized cab sauv that Tesco do- acceptable, that is, as a non- or only very marginally alcoholic (less that 0.5%, i think) table drink. I imagine that that'd count as wine for communion purposes, since it is actually wine (that has had things done to it to remove the alcohol) rather than simply juice.
  • Rublev wrote: »
    Yes, the reason that a silver chalice is often used for communion is that silver doesn't harbour germs.

    Hmmm. I've looked at a number of sensible articles online and the consensus seems to be:
    1. Silver may have some antimicrobial properties but, if it does, we don't know how they work;
    2. The short time-lapse between each person communicating means that any anti-microbial effect is non-existent anyway;
    3. Using a purificator removes a high percentage of bacteria;
    4. Those with active labial and respiratory infections should refrain from communicating;
    5. The use of individual cups removes any risk of infection.

    However, the amount of bacteria deposited on the chalice by each communicant is small and there is apparently no documented evidence of anyone being infected through the use of a common chalice - in fact one more likely to pick up an infection through touching the church's door handle!

    BT I'd refer you to my daughter if I could. She's an infection control nurse and from her knowledge suggests that there is no failsafe on a shared cup not having viral forms on it. It only needs 2 of those (out of an estimated 20 million shared by one sick person) to make you sick.

    As for worse germs on the door handle - well you're not licking that or drinking out of it are you?
  • As for worse germs on the door handle - well you're not licking that or drinking out of it are you?

    No, but you will use those hands to share the peace with others, and to pick up your cube of white sliced and to handle your wee cuppie. And if you don't think your hands are in regular contact with the mucus membranes of your nose and mouth you're sorely mistaken.
  • Question for Hosts: is 'risk (or not) of infection from Communion elements' a DH topic, and if it isn't, could it be made one, please? Whenever it comes up it just goes round the same old well-worn groove and never really gets anywhere.
  • Sorry if I encouraged it!
  • Sorry if I encouraged it!

    You're a bad bad boy. No more trains for you
  • Rublev wrote: »
    Yes, the reason that a silver chalice is often used for communion is that silver doesn't harbour germs.

    Hmmm. I've looked at a number of sensible articles online and the consensus seems to be:
    1. Silver may have some antimicrobial properties but, if it does, we don't know how they work;
    2. The short time-lapse between each person communicating means that any anti-microbial effect is non-existent anyway;
    3. Using a purificator removes a high percentage of bacteria;
    4. Those with active labial and respiratory infections should refrain from communicating;
    5. The use of individual cups removes any risk of infection.

    However, the amount of bacteria deposited on the chalice by each communicant is small and there is apparently no documented evidence of anyone being infected through the use of a common chalice - in fact one more likely to pick up an infection through touching the church's door handle!

    BT I'd refer you to my daughter if I could. She's an infection control nurse and from her knowledge suggests that there is no failsafe on a shared cup not having viral forms on it. It only needs 2 of those (out of an estimated 20 million shared by one sick person) to make you sick.

    As for worse germs on the door handle - well you're not licking that or drinking out of it are you?

    But if you put the wafer on your hand after touching the door handle....

  • 1. There are no instances of any infection being traced to the use of a common cup.
    2. The "noble metals" - silver and gold - actually do have anti-microbial properties. That's a reason to use them instead of pottery or wood.
    3. Communion wine is fortified - sherry or port are used - because, again, the higher alcoholic content helps to kill bugs.

    If I'm sick, I take by intinction, because of my concern for the concerns of others. Otherwise, I don't worry about infection from the chalice, because it just isn't a factor.

  • Rossweisse wrote: »
    1. There are no instances of any infection being traced to the use of a common cup.
    2. The "noble metals" - silver and gold - actually do have anti-microbial properties. That's a reason to use them instead of pottery or wood.
    3. Communion wine is fortified - sherry or port are used - because, again, the higher alcoholic content helps to kill bugs.

    If I'm sick, I take by intinction, because of my concern for the concerns of others. Otherwise, I don't worry about infection from the chalice, because it just isn't a factor.

    You use fortified wine when there may be recovering alcoholics in the congregation?
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Yes, and they can decline the cup if they wish to.
  • I thought intinction increased the risk of infection? Hands are one of the biggest vectors of microbes.
  • AravisAravis Shipmate
    It doesn’t increase the risk of infection as long as you remember which hand you’ve used. I share the peace, open doors, etc. etc. with my right hand at church, then, at the rail, have the wafer placed in my left hand. Whoever is administering the chalice takes the wafer from my clean left hand, dips the end in the chalice and gives it back to me to consume. This feels a lot less risky to me than drinking from the chalice.
  • Gee D wrote: »
    Yes, and they can decline the cup if they wish to.

    Over the years, I have observed a number of communicants declining the cup, some rising before the cup comes round, others waiting until the cup is before them, and then rising. I came to learn that one of my friends & fellow-communicants was in AA, and he told me that this was standard practice and had been discussed among other alcoholics. In his set (admittedly a spikey one), they preferred that to grape juice. He told me that his inability to take the wine was for him a strong reminder that we lived in a broken world, and that this consideration helped him greatly. I remember this conversation clearly, as it is rare in anglophone Canadian society that men speak frankly with other men of deeper things.
  • ZappaZappa Ecclesiantics Host
    edited February 21
    Stick to red grape juice in sealed cartons. Cheap and easily found in most supermarkets

    And can be harmlessly consumed at breakfast the next day
    Aravis wrote: »
    It doesn’t increase the risk of infection as long as you remember which hand you’ve used. I share the peace, open doors, etc. etc. with my right hand at church, then, at the rail, have the wafer placed in my left hand. Whoever is administering the chalice takes the wafer from my clean left hand, dips the end in the chalice and gives it back to me to consume. This feels a lot less risky to me than drinking from the chalice.

    You're clearly not a P on Myers-Brigg ... I can't remember which hand is doing what at any given time.
  • Right if it is acceptable for Alcoholics not to take from the common cup why do not people who are infectious just follow the same practice? No, I am not getting at them, I want to bring those reasons out into the open because I think they will say something of the struggle with alcoholics and using wine (whether fortified, normal or dealcoholized). Sometimes with alcoholics, it is not the actual alcohol that puts them on track to relapse but the idea of drinking alcohol. Therefore they avoid things with wine in the title, such as wine gums, that actually have never had any alcohol in them.

    Secondly, I know an anecdote does not make firm evidence but a family where I worship only ever takes the wafer and reports having far fewer colds and flu since doing so. If you want a clinical trial then...

  • Baptist TrainfanBaptist Trainfan Shipmate
    edited February 21
    Jengie Jon wrote: »
    I know an anecdote does not make firm evidence but a family where I worship only ever takes the wafer and reports having far fewer colds and flu since doing so.
    As it stands this isn't evidence, I'm afraid. It could well be that they have become far more careful about exposure to "bugs" and diseases in every part of their lives and Communion is merely one part of a much bigger picture.

  • Yes but evidence is made up of anecdote in that it is the recording of specific incidences that each of their own are an anecdote. The art is weighing the evidence and deciding what is good. The last line is IMPORTANT in that paragraph because it is precisely to get you to think of WHAT sort of requirements of the anecdotes would make persuasive evidence. If you do not have some idea what that would look like then all you have is a conviction.
  • Rufus T FireflyRufus T Firefly Shipmate
    edited February 21
    Rossweisse wrote: »
    1. There are no instances of any infection being traced to the use of a common cup.
    That is also my belief. I have certainly not been aware that priests (who get to consume the remains) are more likely to get ill than anyone else. Whilst we can talk about theoretical risks of sharing a common cup, in practice it appears that the risks of picking up an infection are very slim (assuming all normal practices are followed).
    Rossweisse wrote: »
    2. The "noble metals" - silver and gold - actually do have anti-microbial properties. That's a reason to use them instead of pottery or wood.
    The beneficial effect of them is, as far as I can tell, minuscule in practice. I think that I would tend to avoid wood, simply because it would tend to soak things up more than other materials and so be harder to ensure that it is properly clean. Pottery chalices do not, as far as I can see, represent a significantly greater practical risk of infection than silver or gold.
    Rossweisse wrote: »
    3. Communion wine is fortified - sherry or port are used - because, again, the higher alcoholic content helps to kill bugs.
    Nope! Not true. If you want to kill bugs, you need a much higher alcohol level. I think that the level has to be somewhere in the region of 50-60%. The communion wine we buy in bulk for the church has 12%. The small bottle of fortified wine that I use for home communions, that I got from the liquor store has 20%. Nowhere near enough to be a defence against infections.
    Rossweisse wrote: »
    If I'm sick, I take by intinction, because of my concern for the concerns of others. Otherwise, I don't worry about infection from the chalice, because it just isn't a factor.
    Whilst there are a lot of untested assertions about the relative health benefits of various methods of distributing/receiving communion, one of the few things that HAS been scientifically tested is intinction. No matter how you do it, it significantly RAISES the possibility of cross-contamination. It is still not THAT great a risk (IMHO) but if you really want to avoid getting or passing on a bug, avoiding intinction would seem to be one answer.

    (It would be really helpful if someone somewhere could carry out a genuine piece of scientific research on communion practices and relative risks of passing on infections. What we have at the moment are mostly untested assertions. After all, it is not that long ago that churches were advising people to practice intinction in order to avoid the possibility of getting HIV/AIDS. There was no serious scientific backing for this advice and it probably raised the likelihood that people would get other infections.)
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    It's quite ok for someone to be offered a gluten free wafer - there's no social stigma in being coeliac. The sort of quiet decline which happens at St Sanity and is described by AtA at the offer of the cup is much more private than the offer of another chalice containing grape juice.
  • Our place has intinction cups like these - for those who want to intinct, the priest will take the waver, intinct in the cup, and place it on the communicant's tongue. We don't intinct by transferring a waver to everyone's grubby palm and back.

    So lots of people will decline the chalice when it comes round because they already intincted, and some will decline the chalice because they were just there for a blessing. You'd have to be watching very carefully indeed to spot a receive-in-one-kinder.
  • RossweisseRossweisse Shipmate
    edited February 22
    Ah, @Leorning Cniht, the dreaded Chip-n-Dip.

    When I take by intinction (if I suspect I'm buggy), I have the priest do the dipping and place the host on my tongue.

    Since I have a severely compromised immune system, I should, I suppose, avoid the chalice. But it has not been an issue for me.
  • *snip*

    (It would be really helpful if someone somewhere could carry out a genuine piece of scientific research on communion practices and relative risks of passing on infections. What we have at the moment are mostly untested assertions. After all, it is not that long ago that churches were advising people to practice intinction in order to avoid the possibility of getting HIV/AIDS. There was no serious scientific backing for this advice and it probably raised the likelihood that people would get other infections.)

    There's this: https://www.anglican.ca/faith/worship/pir/euc-practice-infection/

  • We buy from a local winery. The last time we changed our wines, we invited a number of wineries to submit their best wines and then we had a wine tasting party (outside of the Eucharist).

    The only Biblical requirement is that it has to be "the fruit of the vine."

    The reason why grape juice became popular in many American churches is because of Mr. Welch. When he developed a way to pasteurize grape juice before it fermented, he developed a marketing ploy to get the Methodist churches to switch to grape juice. Then he was a major fund source for the temperance movement in the US.

    I prefer wine, but I really do not see why a congregation may choose to use grape juice, since it is technically still the fruit of the vine.

    Now if you want to talk about the type of bread, every mention of the Eucharist uses the word that means common bread, not unleavened bread. No doubt, the Last Supper had unleavened bread, but I think as Christianity spread people found out they could not necessarily have unleavened bread, so they just began using the common bread. Just a hypothesis.
  • Gee D wrote: »
    Yes, and they can decline the cup if they wish to.

    Exclusion on the basis of personal issues? Not at the communion table surely!
  • Certainly I stress the point, in my invitation to the Table, that people who feel "unworthy" or that their faith is frail are the very ones who are most welcome. (Yes, I appreciate that's not a health issue, but we use wee cuppies).
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