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Source: (consider it) Thread: White wine
EtymologicalEvangelical
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I am a complete newbie on this board, so if this subject has been "done to death" already somewhere, then please direct me to the discussion.

I attended the morning eucharist at London's St Paul's Cathedral last Sunday week (3rd Nov.) - (yes, I know, I was just trying to get in without paying the exorbitant entrance fee! [Mad] ) - and I was rather puzzled to see that they used white communion wine. I must admit that I found this rather disconcerting, and in my many decades of receiving communion, I have never before encountered this.

Is this right??

It certainly didn't feel right to me. Any thoughts on this?

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Pigwidgeon

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I've heard it called "The Plasma of Christ."

The only thing going for it is that it's easier to wash out of the Altar linens.

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The Phantom Flan Flinger
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Communion bread (be it in the form of a wafer, or a piece torn from a crusty cob) doesn't really resemble the body, so I've not got a huge problem with wine not resembling blood.

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Basilica
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I'm sure this has been discussed on this board before, but I can't immediately find a source for it.

First off, I have personally never encountered white communion wine. I have, however, regularly encountered amber communion wine. In fact, it is frequently used in many Church of England parishes, particularly of a more Anglo-Catholic persuasion. I imagine it is used in other churches as well, but have never experienced this personally.

As a few examples, see these links:


Now, as to why some churches do this... Well, I have never seen a definitive answer, but my understanding in broad strokes is that it is meant to emphasise the doctrine of the Real Presence, or perhaps even to go as far as the doctrine of transubstantiation.

The temptation with red wine is to say "ah, it looks like blood". From there, it's a short step to say "it looks like blood, and it's to remind us of Jesus' blood". And at that point, we're into memorialism, which these churches would disavow.

By using non-red wine, it no longer looks like blood, so a memorialist interpretation is excluded to some degree. The person receiving communion is challenged to think closely about what is in the cup. It's a call to ponder the mystery more deeply, and to enter into the idea that what it looks like is less important than what it is.

This may not be a terribly good explanation, but it's the way I've always understood it.

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Adam.

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Practical reason for white wine: it's easier to get out of linens. I've seen it used in a few places, though you're right that it's not super common. It doesn't really raise any theological issues for me, anymore than the choice of white or wheat wafers. I went to one church where they used a sickly sweet amber which I did have a problem with, but only that it was so different from what I was expecting that it distracted by from the spiritual reality. If I went to that church regularly, I'd get used to it, but that's not really the attitude to welcoming visitors I'd expect.

My preference, FWIW, is for rosé. Easy to get out of linens; looks reddish for people who find that helpful; very inoffensive taste so those who aren't regular bibbers of wine don't get put off.

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Bishops Finger
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It is our practice (small A-C parish in the UK)to use a white wine (Chardonnay, I think), but from time to time we do use a rather nice Jewish red.....

......the stains of which are indeed not quite so easy to remove from the linen!

Ian J.

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Clavus
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quote:
rosé... very inoffensive taste so those who aren't regular bibbers of wine don't get put off.
And very offensive and off-putting taste for those who do enjoy wine.
I wonder if the Laodiceans used rosé?

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Vade Mecum
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Every Anglo-Catholic church I have ever attended has used sweet pudding wine (i.e. white in re grapes, golden in re colour) for the MPB, or some variation thereof (some have tasted more like sherry or madeira, and some were doubtless sold as 'Communion Wine' [Projectile] ). The last time I received red, it was port, from my uber-Calvinist Dean of Chapel at College.

The reasons given above for use are all valid.

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Margaret

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At the other end of the scale, I know a Unitarian minister who's at the Christian end of the denomination and holds occasional communion services. When I bought some wine for one of his services he was very insistent that it should be white - he didn't specify the reason but I think I can guess.
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Enoch
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I've encountered communion wine that was more like sherry, but not very often. I've never heard of the arguments before either that because it isn't the same colour of blood that is in some way more transubstantiational than the more familiar varieties of communion wine, or that one is in some way sticking a pin up the noses of memorialists that one disagrees with. If either arguments is genuinely maintained, rather than an ecclesiastic myth, they strike me as silly.

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Augustine the Aleut
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quote:
Originally posted by Clavus:
quote:
rosé... very inoffensive taste so those who aren't regular bibbers of wine don't get put off.
And very offensive and off-putting taste for those who do enjoy wine.
I wonder if the Laodiceans used rosé?

There are some very good rosés out there; most of my friends recoil on account of high school memories of too much Mateus. I think we can safely say that Laodiceans, like most of the ancient world, watered their wine-- let us hope that they did not emulate the Roman practice of sweetening it with lead.
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Al Eluia

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I know of an Episcopal church (in Colorado) that uses both--red on one side of the aisle and white on the other, so people have a choice.

Our parish uses a port from Eastern Washington (some of the best wine country in the US), so quite red. I don't agree that the color necessarily leads to memorialism; I do think it has better sign value as a reminder of Christ's blood, though I can appreciate the argument someone made above in favor of rose.

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Basilica
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quote:
Originally posted by Al Eluia:
I know of an Episcopal church (in Colorado) that uses both--red on one side of the aisle and white on the other, so people have a choice.

Our parish uses a port from Eastern Washington (some of the best wine country in the US), so quite red. I don't agree that the color necessarily leads to memorialism; I do think it has better sign value as a reminder of Christ's blood, though I can appreciate the argument someone made above in favor of rose.

Oh, I agree it doesn't necessarily lead to memorialism. The Church through many centuries has demonstrated that to a satisfactory degree of certainty [Devil]

On the other hand, devoted as I (an Anglo-Catholic) am to our Lord's presence in the Most Precious Blood, the use of rosé would be enough to induce me to receive in one kind.

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mdijon
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
I've encountered communion wine that was more like sherry, but not very often.

And I've encountered substantially watered down port as well. Quite sweet port even. (Well, before it was watered down it probably was).

quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
I've never heard of the arguments before either that because it isn't the same colour of blood that is in some way more transubstantiational than the more familiar varieties of communion wine...

I've heard the argument but not quite in that way. I think the point is not that of itself it becomes more transubstantiational, but rather that it prompts you to think about it. The idea is that you think "This isn't red. It should be red. No, why should it be red? It doesn't have to look like blood does it?"

And the point is made.

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Knopwood
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quote:
Originally posted by Clavus:
quote:
rosé... very inoffensive taste so those who aren't regular bibbers of wine don't get put off.
And very offensive and off-putting taste for those who do enjoy wine.

In fairness, though, that seems to be a common complaint among those in the know (I'm not much of an œnophile myself) about communion wines in general, not just rosé. After we swam the Thames and began communicating habitually in both kinds, my mother quipped that it was almost enough to make her a teetotaller.

I have a preference for red, if only because the whites I've encountered (or under which I've encountered Christ!) have left something to be desired. I suppose this is notwithstanding my being far from the memorialist end of understanding, though like Enoch I've never found that explanation compelling (esp. since the anti-memorialist camp would include many of those most keen that the celebrant should "look like" Jesus in a DH sense).

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Pancho
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quote:
Originally posted by EtymologicalEvangelical:
I am a complete newbie on this board, so if this subject has been "done to death" already somewhere, then please direct me to the discussion.

Here you go:

White communion wine
Gold Wine (really about "white" wine)

Relevant discussions:
Sacramental Wine
Why grapes?

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Adam.

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Nice to know I said the same thing seven years ago as I did just now!

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Ceremoniar
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quote:
Originally posted by Pancho:
quote:
Originally posted by EtymologicalEvangelical:
I am a complete newbie on this board, so if this subject has been "done to death" already somewhere, then please direct me to the discussion.

Here you go:

White communion wine
Gold Wine (really about "white" wine)

Relevant discussions:
Sacramental Wine
Why grapes?

How did you find these? When I did a search using the words white wine, only this thread and two others, now in oblivion, came up.
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Pancho
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quote:
Originally posted by Ceremoniar:
How did you find these? When I did a search using the words white wine, only this thread and two others, now in oblivion, came up.

I went to Google and I typed in the search box:

site:forum.ship-of-fools.com "white wine".

I think I might have also tried it without quotation marks and with a plus sign instead like this:

site:forum.ship-of-fools.com white + wine

If I didn't try these two last methods this time (how quickly I forget!) I usually do so when I try Google searches, just to make sure I don't miss anything.

I often use the forum function too but it's very hit-and-miss like you saw so when I haven't got a lot of time I sometimes just go straight to Google, or Yahoo, etc.

There probably were other threads as well but unfortunately it seems not everything gets stored in Oblivion and Limbo or cached in Google searches.

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we wailed, and you did not mourn.’"

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Emendator Liturgia
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In all of my communicant years as an Anglican, I've only once received MPB which was not a red fortified wine (which is usually of the port or tokay variety). This was in a house communion when the officiating priest suddenly discovered that they had drunk the port at dinner the night before. One can imagine the strange looks of shock when communicants were served up a good Aussie red wine - it was quite a shock because one wasn't expecting heavy tannins in their communion wine. [Razz]

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Zach82
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The color doesn't matter to me—I've enough confidence that it is the blood of Christ to not need it to be (sort of) the color of blood.

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bib
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In usual circumstances I cannot drink red wine as I am likely to have an asthma attack (the small amount in communion not such a risk). White wine has no adverse health issues for me. I'm wondering if there are others for whom red wine poses such a problem even in small amounts that are used at communion.

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Gwalchmai
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Another issue is how much water the celebrant adds to the wine. At one church I attended the parish priest, who enjoyed a drink, added only a token splash. Other clergy seem to water the wine down to levels that ensure the communicants won't fail a breathalsyer test.
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EtymologicalEvangelical
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Pancho -

Thanks for the links. [Smile]

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You can argue with a man who says, 'Rice is unwholesome': but you neither can nor need argue with a man who says, 'Rice is unwholesome, but I'm not saying this is true'. CS Lewis

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Trisagion
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I don't like to contradict Hartt but upon enquiry of the three largest suppliers of wine to the parishes of those diocese who are members of our mutual purchasing consortium (about two-thirds of the dioceses in England and Wales) white wine outsells red by about seven to one in those dioceses. FWIW, I have never once encountered red wine used for communion in France, Spain, Germany or Italy.

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Fr Weber
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We use an Cribari Angelica--a fortified white. I've never had anyone voice concerns about its suitability.

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Graven Image
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Our church used what ever altar wine color was on sale at the winery when the altar guild board made their twice yearly buying trip. Better yet we use what ever a winery wishes to donate within reason.
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Quam Dilecta
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The use of a fortified wine obviates the need for refrigeration to prevent an opened bottle from turning to vinegar in the sacristy cupboard. Over the years, my parish has used amber or ruby "port", depending no doubt on the preferences of whoever was rector at the time.

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Pomona
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I have heard of white wine being used but never encountered it myself - but don't have an issue with it, it's still wine. I don't think it's a big deal.

I've mostly encountered fortified wines, in churches of all churchmanships - guessing it keeps better? Pretty sure I got sherry once (prayer book evangelical church in Staffordshire)...

Oh and EE - in London, both Southwark Cathedral and Westminster Cathedral (RC) have free entry, not just for services.

[ 15. November 2013, 01:34: Message edited by: Jade Constable ]

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Ad Orientem
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White wine? Why not use milk? Alright, a bit over the top perhaps but I do find reasons for white wine (other than red simply not being available), such as not staining the linen or prompting people to think about the Real Presence, to be nothing more than poor rationalisms.
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Baptist Trainfan
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Many Nonconformist churches use non-alcoholic wine (ghastly stuff!) or even Grape Juice. But it is always red ... I've never come across anything else, in fact I'm not sure it exists.

I did at one point attend an Assembly of the "Plymouth" Brethren. Most of them were teetotal - yet they used Port at Communion!

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Liturgylover
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This is an interesting thread, as I have never given the wine colour a second thought. In my Anglo Catholic experience fortified amber or sweet white is the most common.

I remember receving red in a Lutheran Parish in Berlin and being startled by the sharpness and (forgive me while I digress) the lengthy distribution method which involved one group of about 25 forming a large circle, then receving the host from the priest, then large chalices distributing the wine by lay people but only to about 5 at a time before being returned and swapped for another. I initially thought these chalices perhaps contained a small amount of wine but when my turn came I was last and the chalice was virtually full. This continued until we had all received before the next circle formed, and then two more. It felt both intimate and communal but must have taken at least 15 mins.

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Albertus
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quote:
Originally posted by Ad Orientem:
White wine? Why not use milk? Alright, a bit over the top perhaps but I do find reasons for white wine (other than red simply not being available), such as not staining the linen or prompting people to think about the Real Presence, to be nothing more than poor rationalisms.

White wine, red wine, rose- what does it matter as long as it's wine?
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Ad Orientem
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quote:
Originally posted by Albertus:
quote:
Originally posted by Ad Orientem:
White wine? Why not use milk? Alright, a bit over the top perhaps but I do find reasons for white wine (other than red simply not being available), such as not staining the linen or prompting people to think about the Real Presence, to be nothing more than poor rationalisms.

White wine, red wine, rose- what does it matter as long as it's wine?
Personally, I think it does matter, except in exceptional circumstances such as, as I already mentioned, when red wine simply isn't available. I would argue that red wine was what I Lord intended for us to use when he instituted this Holy Mystery. This is also why we don't use Coca Cola in Baptism or lard in Chrismation.
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Knopwood
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quote:
Originally posted by Ad Orientem:
I would argue that red wine was what I Lord intended for us to use when he instituted this Holy Mystery.

Okay I'll bite, haven't heard that one before. How would you argue that?

As I've indicated, it's not my preference, but I certainly wouldn't liken it to milk, or even pasteurized grape juice.

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Ad Orientem
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quote:
Originally posted by LQ:
Okay I'll bite, haven't heard that one before. How would you argue that?

Because that's what he used and is why throughtout the history of the Church it is what has predominantly been used. Instruction through example.

[ 15. November 2013, 09:28: Message edited by: Ad Orientem ]

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Lyda*Rose

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quote:
Originally posted by Ad Orientem:
quote:
Originally posted by LQ:
Okay I'll bite, haven't heard that one before. How would you argue that?

Because that's what he used and is why throughtout the history of the Church it is what has predominantly been used. Instruction through example.
And you are sure of this how? And if red has been "predominantly" but not exclusively used in the Orthodox Church, how can you liken white wine to milk or cola? Have times and places where Orthodox priests have used white rather than red produced invalid offerings?

[ 15. November 2013, 11:10: Message edited by: Lyda*Rose ]

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Augustine the Aleut
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quote:
Originally posted by Ad Orientem:
quote:
Originally posted by Albertus:
quote:
Originally posted by Ad Orientem:
White wine? Why not use milk? Alright, a bit over the top perhaps but I do find reasons for white wine (other than red simply not being available), such as not staining the linen or prompting people to think about the Real Presence, to be nothing more than poor rationalisms.

White wine, red wine, rose- what does it matter as long as it's wine?
Personally, I think it does matter, except in exceptional circumstances such as, as I already mentioned, when red wine simply isn't available. I would argue that red wine was what I Lord intended for us to use when he instituted this Holy Mystery. This is also why we don't use Coca Cola in Baptism or lard in Chrismation.
Lard at chrimation would not be kosher.

My wine history friend (by trade a geek in HM Forces but whose degree is in archaeology of the Near East) has always held that the wine likely used at Passover in NT times might have been pressed clear, and not left in the skins, and would have approximated an amber colour. I would have thought that red would have survived the winter better from the previous autumn harvest but had insufficient knowledge of the period to argue the point with her.

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Adam.

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quote:
Originally posted by Trisagion:
I don't like to contradict Hartt but upon enquiry of the three largest suppliers of wine to the parishes of those diocese who are members of our mutual purchasing consortium (about two-thirds of the dioceses in England and Wales) white wine outsells red by about seven to one in those dioceses. FWIW, I have never once encountered red wine used for communion in France, Spain, Germany or Italy.

Interesting. Thinking about it (and I clearly don't that often), I think the parish I go to when I'm in England does generally use white. I can't think of any churches in my current diocese that do, though (though I've never been to most of them).

My general experience on the continent is of not being offered the cup, so I wouldn't know.

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Ad Orientem
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyda*Rose:
quote:
Originally posted by Ad Orientem:
quote:
Originally posted by LQ:
Okay I'll bite, haven't heard that one before. How would you argue that?

Because that's what he used and is why throughtout the history of the Church it is what has predominantly been used. Instruction through example.
And you are sure of this how? And if red has been "predominantly" but not exclusively used in the Orthodox Church, how can you liken white wine to milk or cola? Have times and places where Orthodox priests have used white rather than red produced invalid offerings?
I've already said that the use of white could be deemed acceptable where red is genuinely unavailable, but to use white when red could easily be used would seem like an abuse to me. As an Orthodox I try to shy away from speaking in terms of validity.
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Corvo
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What a strange discussion!

What difference does it make what colour the wine is?

Would it make any difference what colour the bread was?

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Corvo
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What about sparkling wine?
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Zach82
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quote:
Originally posted by Corvo:
What about sparkling wine?

There are always rumors that terribly posh parishes in the Episcopal Church use champagne for Communion, but that's all a joke of course.

Seems to me the champagne would go flat sitting in the cruet anyhow.

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BulldogSacristan
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Well, Champagne is properly decanted anyway.
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L'organist
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There used to be a parish (high A-C) in the diocese of St Albans that used white port for festivals... Tio Pepe otherwise [Smile]

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St. Punk the Pious

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A number of posters have already hinted at the answer. But. . .

I once took some somewhat low church young Anglican friends to a high church Anglican solemn high mass - in which white wine was used.

Afterwards, one youth asked the rector why they used white wine.

Now I knew the rector to be a committed catholic and learned and an erudite teacher. So I was interested to hear myself what I expected to be a thought-provoking answer. . . .

And he answered that the ladies of the altar guild begged him to use white wine as that is so much easier to clean from the linens. [Smile]

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Chorister

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quote:
Originally posted by Corvo:
What about sparkling wine?

We have sparkling wine after the Ascension Day service, as the bubbles rise up! But just ordinary (red)wine for the actual service.

At the cathedral, they use white wine in a golden chalice. So when you drink it, it looks as if you are drinking golden wine!

[ 15. November 2013, 16:02: Message edited by: Chorister ]

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Albertus
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IIRC my college chapel used to use the Bulgarian Cab Sauv that was the cheapest thing on the Buttery wine list (this would no doubt have pleased Ad Orientem, being not only red but from an Orthodox country, though he'll probably pop up and correct me now and tell me that Our Lord's command, as transmitted through the immemorial usage of the Eastern fathers, was to use Merlot).

[ 15. November 2013, 16:04: Message edited by: Albertus ]

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Siegfried
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White wine for anemia or blood disorder awareness?

I once was given OJ on a youth group campout for communion, so I'd count your blessings!

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Siegfried
Life is just a bowl of cherries!

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Knopwood
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quote:
Originally posted by Ad Orientem:
I've already said that the use of white could be deemed acceptable where red is genuinely unavailable, but to use white when red could easily be used would seem like an abuse to me. As an Orthodox I try to shy away from speaking in terms of validity.

But as an Orthodox Christian, you presumably are also bound by the liturgical norms of your hierarchs. Apart from what it "seems like to [you]," is there any 'official' source that takes the same line, or is this a 'pious opinion'?

quote:
Originally posted by Zach82:
quote:
Originally posted by Corvo:
What about sparkling wine?

There are always rumors that terribly posh parishes in the Episcopal Church use champagne for Communion, but that's all a joke of course.
I've half-joked about using it for my hypothetical Nuptial Mass. I don't know about the cruet, but I have heard it suggested that it would react poorly with the metal of the chalice.
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