Sacramental wine requirements

Does anyone know the requirements for sacramental wine? For example, I know that the wine can only come from grapes. What about additives (like sulfites), or the yeast used during fermentation? Any requirements for alcohol concentration? Does the wine have to come from a source certified for sacramental use?

Just curious…


No additaves allowed. There is a necessary alcohol content < or>% I don’t recall exactly. Below that level it should not be used for general distribution. I don’t believe that it has to be a certified source, but that is the pastors responsibility to insure that it meets the requirements.

You would be hard-pressed to find any commercial wine – even certified sacramental wine that did not have some amount of added sulfates.

Yet the theology of Transubstantiation does not call for any specific type of wine. Any wine, even with additives should still be changed.

Not true.
The Precious Blood could not be confected using Saki (rice wine), plum wine, dandelion wine or any other non-grape wine.

The theology of transsubstantiation may not in itself specify a particular type of wine, but the theology of all sacraments requires that all sacraments use valid matter, form and intent.

What constitutes valid matter for wine to be used for the Eucharist is specified in Canon Law and the GIRM. See here.

I don’t think the OP is speaking about the theology of Transubstantiation, but that of Liturgical Law.

Yes you can and you do need to be careful. Sometimes “Certified Sacramental Wine” is certified to meet Protestant requirements, not Catholic requirements.

One should note that the wine is changed in the consecration, the additives are not. When one adores the sacred species is not one adoring not only Christ but also the unconsecrated additives - which would be false idols?

How do you get that? Are you also saying that when you go to adoration you are worshiping the monstrance too? :confused:

I have regularly seen pallets of boxed wine made by a well known winery for use in Catholic liturgies that are not only marked as such, but also clearly say “sulfates added.”

There are no “Protestant requirements” that I am aware of, although many Protestant parishes seem to use kosher wine. I asked a Lutheran minister I know why these used that sickly sweet wine and he said “people like it.” :bigyikes:

FYI, all wine naturally has sulfites in it. There is no such thing as sulfite free wine.


VERY true, but this labeling says “sulfates added.” I remember one wine guy told me that the making of wine itself will add sulfates to some degree, so I’m curious if that’s what the label means?

I’m going to investigate this.

All wine makers, including sacramental wine makers, add sulfites to wine, to keep it from going bad.

The exception may be some monastery that makes wine for their own liturgical use. I know one monastery that use to do this and, when I received the precious blood there, I immediately hoped and prayed they would start buying wine instead of making it. :slight_smile:


I just remember reading that there was to be NO preservatives added, no additional alcohol added, nothing was to be added. Only natural grape wine with a certain range of alcohol content.

I found this site on organic wines.

It states:

Totally sulfite-free wines are an accident of nature; but wines low in sulfites or free of added sulfites do exist. Let us explain. Sulfites are a natural byproduct of the fermentation process. Fermenting yeasts present on all grape skins generate naturally occurring sulfites in amounts ranging from 6 to 40 parts per million (ppm.)”.

It’s an interesting article.


While sulfites can occur naturally, what is meant by the use of sulfites in the making of wine is to ADD sulfites to the wine - popularly with campden tablets (potassium metabisulphite). This occurs at two times in commercial winemaking. The first time is when the grapes are first crushed. The purpose is to kill any organisms that might be on the grapes and juice. The natural amounts present will not do the job. The second time is to stop fermentation when they reach their desired alcohol level. All the yeast is killed and therefore cannot convert more sugar to alcohol. It also kills any organisms that might have again been introduced - most particularly acetobacter bacteria, which makes vinegar.

In my experience, the addition of sulfites is unnecessary if you maintain a sterile work environment. I keep my equipment clean and sterile and I have never had a problem with spoilage. Also, the level of alcohol can be precisely controlled without the use of sulfites via hydrometer measurements and proper yeast selection (though the addition of sugar beforehand could pose a problem for sacramental wine). Also, once the wine is done fermenting, the high alcohol level (10-18%/vol) will prevent most organisms from being able to thrive.

There are a host of other additives that can be added (most of this science having been advanced in the past 150 years) to create a more balanced wine. None of these are super critical for making wine from grapes (though I assert that pectic enzymes are critical for a good apple wine, but that won’t be used for sacramental wine - I hope :p).

Then there is the addition of yeast. If someone asserts that the addition of yeast is a violation of no additives, that someone needs a course in chemistry or biology 101. No yeast, no alcohol, it’s as simple as that. Now on the old European estates that have been established for hundreds of years, the addition of yeast is not necessary because they have developed a monoculture in their environment. But most of us need to help nature along and give the yeast the advantage over competing organisms.

Also, the use of wooden barrels could pose a problem for sacramental wine, since that introduces a host of additives that help age the wine. Therefore, today the best option are glass carboys to store the wine.

And due to the fact that it isn’t being aged in wood, the wine should be drunk fairly soon (it won’t get much of an advantage from aging in glass). Sacramental wine is best within a year or two of making.

Did I leave anything out? If you have anymore questions on making sacramental wine or wine in general (grape or other), let me know.


Was that pun intentional?


Did I leave anything out?

Yes you did. The difference between making wine at home and and making wine on a commercial basis. :slight_smile:


Winemakers have told me that as well and it brings up a good point. I read on another thread like this that distilled spirits made from grapes (brandy) could be added to sacramental wine as a preservative. Given that brandy is not natural (it’s processed) I don’t see how that could be possible?

Glass carboys? You’re not talking about commercial quantities are you?

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