An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church


Alcoholic beverage made from the fermented juice of grapes. Wine and bread are the essential elements of the eucharist. Wine is associated with celebration, fellowship, and joy. In Judaism, bread and wine were used in household worship such as the Sabbath meal and the Passover meal. The synoptic gospels identify Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples on the night before his death as a Passover meal. At this meal Jesus identified the cup of wine with his blood of the new covenant and foretold that he would not again drink “the fruit of the vine” with his disciples until drinking it new with them in the kingdom of God (Mt 26:26-29, Mk 14:22-25, Lk 22:14-20). This identification of Christ’s blood of the new covenant with the wine is continued in the institution narratives of the eucharistic prayers of the BCP (pp. 342, 363, 368, 371, 374). Rite 1, Prayer I identifies the wine with Christ’s blood of the New Testament (BCP, p. 335). However, the doctrine of concomitance upholds the truth of sacramental theology that Christ’s body and blood are both present in each of the eucharistic elements of bread and wine. Christ is understood to be “really present” in a special way in the consecrated elements of bread and wine. The bread and wine constitute the sacramental matter of the eucharist.

It is customary to add a little water to the wine in preparing the altar for the eucharistic prayer. This custom is known as the “mixed chalice.” Wine of any color may be used at the eucharist. There is to be only one chalice on the altar during the prayer of consecration. Additional chalices may be filled from a flagon containing consecrated wine after the eucharistic prayer is completed. If there is insufficient wine to distribute to the people, additional wine may be consecrated by the celebrant. Any consecrated wine that is not administered at communion may be consumed by the ministers, reserved, or disposed of in a reverent manner. Some Protestant churches substitute grape juice for wine and substitute individual small cups for the common chalice or cup at their celebrations of communion. See Concomitance; see Elements, Eucharistic; see Matter (Sacramental); see Mixed Chalice; see Real Presence.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.