Relevance of Altar Wine intheChristian Religion

  • Altar wine, also known as, sacramental wine or communion wine is essentially wine obtained from grapes. This wine is used widely in the celebration of the Eucharist. Eucharist is also referred to as the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion. If the same wine is used for non-Eucharistceremonies, it would not be referred to by these terms and would just be considered ordinary wine. (Information credit: https://www.holyart.co.uk/)

    Composition of the altar wine

    Maximum number of mainstream liturgical Churches makes it mandatory for the altar wine to be made out of pure grapes. For instance, in the Eastern Orthodox Church, it is necessary for sacramental wine which is utilized in theDivine Liturgy, to be fermented from pure red grapes. On the other hand, GreekChurches prefer the use of Nama or Mavrodaphne, whereas RussianChurches show a preference for Kagor.

    In the community of EasternChristianity, sacramental or altar wine is mostly red in color. The red colour symbolizes the transformation of the wine from the blood of JesusChrist, which is the phenomenon that has been deemed to happen on the occasion of Christianity. On the other hand, in the community of Western Christianity, white wines are used to serve the practical purpose of making sure no stains are formed on the altar cloth. In majority of Catholic liturgical rituals, like Roman,Antiochene,Byzantine and Alexandrian, a little amount of water is added to the altar wine in the procedure of preparing the chalice. In the Armenian rite, the wine is sanctified without mixing it with water at all. In the Byzantineritual, just before the communion takes place, some amount of boiling water (termed as zeon) is added to the sanctified altar wine .This particular ritual is rendered several types of symbolic significances like the mystery of Christ’s divine spirit, his human nature, his unity with the Church and the blood and water that flowed from his sides at the time of his death.

    Manner of consumption

    In the roman ritual of the Catholic Church, the communion is performed either by the communicant drinking the wine from the chalice directly or by the process of intinction. In the case of drinking by intinction,the priest dips the sanctified bread into the sanctified wine and then pours it into the communicant’s mouth.in the Byzantinerite, often the wine is consumed from the chalice using a straw or a spoon. In the Byzantine ritual of the eastern of the Eastern Orthodox Church and a few eastern CatholicChurches, the normal method of consuming altar wine is to give the communicant some of the sanctified wine along with a portion of the consecrated bread, chalice, using a spoon. The bread is kept in the chalice. On the other hand, in the Anglican Church, the consumption of the altar wine is done by each communicant receiving a small drop while the chalice is held by another person. 

    Altar wines have popular demand amongst people of Catholic community.