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Sacramental wine

Sacramental wine, Communion wine or altar wine is wine obtained from grapes and intended for use in celebration of the Eucharist (referred to also as the Divine Liturgy, the Mass, the Lord's Supper or Holy Communion). The same wine, if intended for use in ceremonies of non-Christian religions or for ordinary use, would not normally be described by these terms.

Wine was used in the earliest celebrations of the Lord's Supper: "The chalice of benediction, which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? And the bread, which we break, is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord? For we, being many, are one bread, one body, all that partake of one bread."

In the Early Church both clergy and laity received the consecrated wine by drinking from the chalice, after receiving a portion of the consecrated bread.

Due to many factors, including the difficulty of obtaining wine in Northern European countries where the climate was unsuitable for growing grapes, drinking from the chalice became largely restricted in the West to the celebrating priest, while others received communion in the form of bread only. This also reduced the symbolic importance of choosing wine of red colour.

Leaders who accepted the Protestant Reformation, such as the Lutheran Church, insisted on use of wine in celebrating the Lord's Supper. As a reaction to this, even in those Western European countries that, while remaining Roman Catholic had continued to give the chalice to the laity, this practice faded out, in order to emphasize Catholic belief that the whole Christ is received under either form. The Eastern Churches in full communion with Rome continued to give the Eucharist to the faithful under the forms of both bread and wine. The twentieth century, especially after the Second Vatican Council, saw a return to more widespread sharing in the Eucharist under the forms of both bread and wine. In the Anglican Communion (of which the Church of England and the Episcopal Church of the United States are members), the use of wine is obligatory; consumption of the bread alone does not make a valid communion.



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