Sulfites in Altar Wine

In all Church documents that stipulate the requirements for valid matter to use in Communion, a big deal is always made about natural grape wine, with NO other ingredients/additives. But almost all wine used in parishes has a little note on the bottle saying “contains sulfites.”

I know sulfites are a common preservative, but why is that not in violation of the given rules?

Sulfites can be produced naturally in the fermentation process, and are sometimes introduced as part of the process of winemaking rather than added to a completed wine. In either case, the presence of sulfites would not indicate any adulteration of the wine.

Thanks, Mark!

No problem. There’s also some discussion here (Zenit) and in the thread here, especially starting at p. 3 and, in particular, post #54, which quotes (and I can’t verify the authenticity of it, but this is the Internet, after all :)) –

"Mass Wine: Treated with Sulphurous Anhydride, Etc. (Holy Office) Private.

The Holy Office was asked by the Archbishop of Tarracona: Whether in the Sacrifice of the Mass, wine may be used which is made from the juice of the grape, treated with sulphurous anhydride or with potassium bisulphite.

Reply. In the affirmative.

(Private) ; Holy Office, 2 Aug., 1922.

Not published in the AAS; cf. Il Monitore, Oct., 1923, p. 289."

Sulfites occur naturally in all Grape juice. All Alter Wine is produced with NO ADDED PRESERATIVES.

But, by law, since the wine does contain a natural level of sulfites, from the grape juice from which it was made, it must show this on the label.

You are REALLY looking for things to reject the Church about, if you are so concerned about such a minor matter.

No need to jump to conclusions about that. Sometimes people are interested in in odd or minor questions simply because they find the subject interesting, or because a minor but very graspable issue can shed light on aspects of a large but much eelier topic.

I don’t appreciate your snide comment. I have vigorously defended our Church in my many, many posts on these forums. This was simply a legitimate thing that I’ve always been curious about, and I’m offended by your rude presumption that I dislike the very religion that we both profess.
:mad:

The Original Poster asked a completely valid and legitimate question here. After all this is the Catholic Answers Forum where she had hoped to get an answer to a question.

Sulphites whether natural or added have been linked to serious health problems. People have a right to know what is in food and drink that they are ingesting into their bodies.

I find your attitude condescending and unhelpful. You would do well to show a bit more Christian charity when you reply to people.

thanks

FYI: “he” not “she”
:smiley:

Sulfates MAY licitly be added to wine for preservation:

From Mont La Salle’s (formerly Christian Brothers) website FAQ at montlasallealtarwines.com/faq.php#qq1_1

Is our current Altar Wine approved for Sacramental use?

We at Mont La Salle like to state that we cannot determine how other suppliers make their wine or if it is made according to the requirements of Canon Law. We know with absolute certainty that Mont La Salle altar wine is made according to Canon Law and, in addition, our label states “approved for sacramental use”. As far as we know, there is no other wine offered for commercial sale that makes this statement.

Then Mont La Salle has this to say about sulfates:

Sulfites in Wine - (Why does the wine label state ‘contains sulfites’? And, what are sulfites?) Sulfites in wine are nothing new since the yeast cells during fermentation produce a small amount of sulfites and the better winemakers have made tiny additions of sulfites for many centuries. This miniscule amount of added sulfites acts as an anti-oxidant and as a yeast inhibitor which preserves the natural good condition of the wine and retards spoilage. For the information and protection of those few people who are extremely sensitive or allergic to sulfites, U.S. Federal Law, for some time now, requires that wine containing (10) or more parts per million of sulfites be labeled “contains sulfites”. This labeling requirement is mandatory for all wines produced in the U.S. The wines are the same as they were before such labeling was required. Substances that assist in making sound wine and that remain in the wine in minute traces, such as sulfites, have been and are considered by canonists and theologians to be acceptable for the Eucharist. One such approval, as reported in the Sacramentary, was the Holy Office Decree of 2nd August, 1922."
**
In reality Mont La Salle relies on the following (and not Canon Law) to add sulfates to their sacramental wines:**

"Mass Wine: Treated with Sulphurous Anhydride, Etc. (Holy Office) Private.

The Holy Office was asked by the Archbishop of Tarracona: Whether in the Sacrifice of the Mass, wine may be used which is made from the juice of the grape, treated with sulphurous anhydride or with potassium bisulphite.

Reply. In the affirmative.

(Private) ; Holy Office, 2 Aug., 1922.

Not published in the AAS; cf. Il Monitore, Oct., 1923, p. 289."

You’re wrong.

You should not give spurious information.

See my previous post.

Probably because the use of sulfates allowed the celebration of the Mass in far more remote parts of this world.

Here in California the Mission Period padres used to spike the wine with distilled brandy. Not to change the flavor or give it more kick but to preserve it.

Adding sulfates does not change the character of the wine. It simply keep it from turning into vinegar.

I have to say it is sad that the Catholic Church is not absolutely open about this matter. The adding of sulfates for reasons of preservation could and should have been clearly noted in the current documentation.

Instead we rely on a convoluted trail of evidence that does nothing but breed division and that’s sad.

what division and confusion? what convoluted trail? the question has been answered. Sulfites occur naturally in wine and the addition of a minute amount to stop the fermentation of the wine is part of the wine making process. What is the problem?

hmm, PuzzleAnnie drinks wine and has looked at labels.
As to brandy and wine, well…that creates Port wine which is distinguished from every other wine. Using brandy to stop fermentation produces Port and not any other kind of wine.

wineintro.com/glossary/s/sulfites.html

waterhouse.ucdavis.edu/winecomp/so2.htm

First, not all wine have added sulfates. Not by a long shot. The Church makes no mention of an exemption for adding sulfates in Canon Law, the GIRM, RS or any other routinely referenced document that I am aware of. (Did I miss it somewhere?) How did I personally find out that added sulfates are OK? (At least I believe they are OK?)

I found a bottle of sacramental wine at my parish. I went to the website of the winery and read their rationale. While they mention “Canon Law” they offer no reference (as there is none.) They do mention a reference to a very obscure private 1922 permission. It took Google’s best efforts to find mention of the 1922 permission (Zenit now has made mention of it and it’s easier to find.)

I have no evidence from the Catholic Church that this permission is still valid and/or if it ever even applied to the USA other than practical, de-facto evidence from the winery. Hey, the winery is selling and shipping sacramental wine based on the private 1922 permission. Then it must be OK?

You would think that the Church would very carefully specify what can and can not go into wine. Why would the Church leave something this critical up to some very obscure private 1922 permission? As specified now, sulfates cannot be added unless someone wants to rely on the 1922 document.

Rf:

"Mass Wine: Treated with Sulphurous Anhydride, Etc. (Holy Office) Private.

The Holy Office was asked by the Archbishop of Tarracona: Whether in the Sacrifice of the Mass, wine may be used which is made from the juice of the grape, treated with sulphurous anhydride or with potassium bisulphite.

Reply. In the affirmative.

(Private) ; Holy Office, 2 Aug., 1922.

Not published in the AAS; cf. Il Monitore, Oct., 1923, p. 289."

Says who?

The private permission given in 1922?

What substance may naturally occur in wine or may be added to wines? Is it sulphites or sulphates? Both words have been used by various posters. Is it one or the other or both? I ask because as a scientist I know that sulphites and sulphates are different substances, so the two words are not synonymous and cannot be used interchangeably. So I’m interested as to which of these two substances is found in wine.

Why should you have easy access to it? Are you a winemaker? Apparently it was as readily-available as it needed to be, since the company had it in their documents.

I have no evidence from the Catholic Church that this permission is still valid and/or if it ever even applied to the USA other than practical, de-facto evidence from the winery. Hey, the winery is selling and shipping sacramental wine based on the private 1922 permission. Then it must be OK?

If it started out valid, it continues to be valid. We are talking about valid matter for the Precious Blood. If it made a valid Eucharist then, it makes a valid Eucharist now. The Church cannot promulgate invalid sacraments.

You would think that the Church would very carefully specify what can and can not go into wine. Why would the Church leave something this critical up to some very obscure private 1922 permission? As specified now, sulfates cannot be added unless someone wants to rely on the 1922 document.

Perhaps this was simply common sense until 1922.

Even though I have already corrected him in another thread, Luger insists on calling them sulfates. We are talking about sulfites, the preservative here. They can also be spelled ‘sulphites’. We are not talking about sulfates, which are an industrial poison.

And as for the 1922 “permission:” that is what is known as a “dubium” or request for interpretation of the law. It did not signify any new permission for something novel, it merely requested that the Holy See make a definitive ruling on something that was unclear under norms that were current for that time.

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