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Police Seize Altar Wine In Quebec Say Its Illegal To Import It

The Importance of Sacramental Wine

This is a promotional photo for Mont La Salle Altar Wines produced in Napa, Calif.

Philippe Vaillancourt

Date: April 23, 2021

QUEBEC CITY Police have seized large quantities of altar wine in the province of Quebec, creating a situation where buying a bottle is nearly impossible.

On April 9, police officers seized sacramental wine from Bertrand, Foucher, Bélanger, Inc. in Montreal, Procure Ecclésiastique, Inc. in Quebec City and Chandelles Tradition MB, Inc. in Saint-Constant.

Sandra Dion, spokeswoman for the Quebec City Police Department, said the wine was seized following an investigation. The seizures appear related to laws governing the resale of alcohol within provinces, although some distributors claim they are within the law and have licenses.

The altar wine available in Quebec comes from two Californian producers: Mont La Salle Altar Wines and Cribari Premium Altar Wines. However, since the Société des alcools du Québec the provincial liquor board does not sell these products, the wines had to be imported from other Canadian provinces. Although that was the practice for many years, police now says its illegal.

Officers from the Montreal Police Department showed up with a warrant, said Alain Denis, general manager at Bertrand, Foucher, Bélanger, Inc., a store specializing in church goods. The warrant mentioned illegal possession and selling of alcohol. Chandelles Tradition MB did not return calls.

The SAQ confirmed it is in contact with the bishops.

Saved From Prohibition By Holy Wine

In downtown Los Angeles, a 95-year-old winery weathered hard times by making wine for church services. Now connoisseurs are devoted to it

Amy Scattergood

St. Anthony of Padua is not the patron saint of winemakersthat distinction goes to St. Vincent or St. Martin of Tours or, if you happen to be in Bulgaria, St. Trifon the Prunerbut perhaps he should be, at least in Southern California. Because when Santo Cambianica came to Los Angeles from Lombardy and founded the San Antonio Winery, it was his devotion to that saint and his church that would save the business.

Like most of his compatriots, Cambianica was a Catholic, a very devout Catholic by all accounts, and thus he named his winery after St. Anthony, the patron saint not of winemakers but of lost things, of travelers, of the poor. If Cambianica was a traveler, he did not remain so. Nor did he end up poor and lost, as so many of his fellow winemakers did, when in 1920 Prohibition slammed the wine industry like a heavy jug thudding down on a dining table.

Prohibition changed the burgeoning California wine business into an industry in sudden crisis, patched together with string and wire and oak barrel slatsand loopholes. The Volstead Act, which enforced the 18th Amendment, exempted alcohol that was used for medicinal or cosmetic purposes, such as hair tonics and toilet waters and elixirs, and for religious purposes, specifically sacramental wine.

Weve endured, says Steve Riboli.

What Is The Difference Between Altar Wine And Regular Wine

It is surprising to learn that sacramental wine can be red or white, dry or sweet, even fortified, as long as the source of fortification is grape-derived, and the alcohol content stays between 5% and 18%. It is intended for church, after all. Its important to know that sacramental wine is just wine until its blessed.

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Makers Of Sacramental Wine Altar Bread Suffer Economic Hit Due To Pandemic

Above: Sister Anne Bartol, a Poor Clare, holds a bag of altar bread she and other nuns prepared to sell to parishes throughout Pennsylvania at the Monastery of St. Clare in Langhorne, Pa., Aug. 13, 2020.

WASHINGTON With the global pandemic practically shutting everything down for months, the sacramental wine and altar bread business has suffered like other businesses in the country, with COVID-19 preventing most indoor public celebrations of the Mass.

Catholics are for the most part unable to attend Mass in person and receive the Communion host and consecrated wine. And in cases where Mass can be attended by a small congregation that must adhere to health and safety protocols, like social distancing, mask wearing and hand sanitizing, Catholics still might not want to receive Communion.

Nothing has kept this winery from fulfilling its mission the last century and a half, until now, said Will Ouweleen, who is the vintner at the O-Neh-Da and Eagle Crest vineyards in Conesus, New York, in the states Finger Lakes region. Hemlock Lake is home to the vineyards, which also produce table wines.

Things are not well. Easter this year was effectively canceled. You were encouraged to stay home and have a spiritual Communion, he told Catholic News Service. What that means for O-Neh-Da Vineyard and other vineyards is there is no demand for sacramental wine. We have made very few sales since mid-February.

Where To Buy Altar Wine

Kedem Winery King David Sacramental KP by Royal Wines

The wine Altar Wine, also known as Church Wine or Sacramental Wine, is amber-red in color and has a medium sweet taste. The grapes used for this wine are pure red and are used to celebrate the Eucharist, commonly known as the Lords Supper or Holy Communion.

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Sacramental Wine Shop Opens In Dormont

When Curt Friehs and Cynthia Craig raise a glass, they feel closer to God.

In April, the friends opened Chosen Wine, a sacramental vino shop at 1517 Potomac Ave. in Dormont, to share their love of the sacred beverage. Hours are noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

While you might find a few dusty bottles of Manischewitz at the local liquor store, the new spot will boast a wide selection of organically made, ethically sourced, kosher wines from around the world. Red and white, dry and sweet, all varietals will be represented.

The grapes are the same, its just that this wine is held to a higher standard of quality under religious supervision, Friehs says.

Empty bottles representing the proprietors favorite libations line the window stills. Theyre produced by Israeli wineries such as Dalton, Black Tulip and Psagot, and Pavillon de la Rotonde in Bordeux, France.

Chosen Wine also will sell religious items, including books, candles and Tibetan singing bowls. Once Covid restrictions are lifted, customers can partake in tastings and educational events.

Both Friehs and Craig, who met while working as librarians at Wichita State University in Kansas, took an interest in altar wine after spiritual awakenings. They wanted a better understanding of what was going in their bodies as they were raising their spirits.

Craig and Friehs decided to pour their collective passion into Chosen Wine.

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How Much Church Wine Would I Have To Gulp To Get Hammered

Asking for a friend

Believe it or not, I was once a wee Catholic schoolboy. I never bought into the religion all that much, but frequenting church was an essential component of attending Catholic school. Though, for me, the only essential component of church itself was snacking on communion wafers and sipping that sweet, sweet wine.

I think about church wine now and again, despite not having set foot in church for years now. I sometimes wonder if anyone ever has the gall to slug the entire chalice and get completely slammered while praising Jesus . I sometimes wonder if I could get away with attending church as a free pregame. Inspired by these strange thoughts, I did some research, and the answer is maybe?

Matthew Schaeffer, theology teacher and director of campus ministries at a L.A. high school, explains that the only significant difference between church wine also known as altar wine or sacramental wine and standard wine is it being consecrated, or declared sacred by a priest. You could use Two-Buck Chuck, he says. It just has to be grape wine with alcohol.

Some churches use fortified wine, Schaeffer adds, which has an increased alcohol content, and therefore stays fresh for longer and could be slightly more sanitary when served in a communal cup. Other churches also use white wine to prevent the staining of altar linens and garb.

Alternatively, you could save yourself the trouble and grab some Two-Buck Chuck. Church wine is pretty much the same, after all.

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How Long Does Church Wine Last

Generally, wine with a low alcohol content or above 14% can have a shelf life of 12 months to 36 months, depending on the type of wine and whether it has a high alcohol content. In general, storing wine in a cool, dry place without experiencing significant temperature swings is recommended for optimal storage.

What Is Sacramental Wine And Where Does It Come From

Girl Has Priest Laughing During Her First Communion Wine Sip

Whether you keep up with Papal gossip or keep tabs on potential gridlock nightmares, you probably know the newest Pope is coming to town . Starting Tuesday, September 22nd, Pope Francis will be making stops in D.C., New York, and Philadelphia, and while many of us arent Catholic, or quite observant, we are observant wine drinkers. And that got us wondering: what the heck is sacramental wine?

In case you didnt know, and there are many reasons you wouldnt, Catholics drink wine in the course of a traditional mass. And no, its not like theyre breaking out booze just as the service starts to lag its integral, actually the most important part of the ceremony. But just whats in that glass, none of us have really ever investigated .

Recollections are it tasted sweet, almost like a Manischewitz. But we wanted to know a little more about the wine itselfhow its made, who makes it, and if anyone ever drinks it, intentionally, as in well beyond church property. Turns out, kind of like Kosher wine, there are some pretty specific rules governing its production. Essentially, sacramental wine has to be made naturally, from the fruit of the grape, pure and incorruptthough raisins are also fair game. Not mixed with other substances, though a small quantity of water is mixed in during the celebration. Its also important the wine hasnt turned into vinegar or soured, and it is altogether forbidden to use wine of doubtful authenticity or provenance.

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