ALERT! A “wine” that perhaps isn’t really wine!

As you know, for the consecration of the Eucharist to be VALID, we must use wine from grapes.  It can be fortified wine, but it must be wine (HERE).

Today I received a link from a reader which I am compelled to bring to your attention:

It’s Not Wine

Syd Abrams spent a quarter century as a lobbyist for the California Wine Institute, monitoring wine-related legislation in 12 western states until he was forced out two years ago, at age 78. All along, he’s also been a partner in eastern Washington’s pioneering, 800-acre Sagemoor Vineyards, the largest independent grape grower in the state.

Looking out for his private interests now, Abrams finds it curious that Washington State’s notoriously slack Liquor Board was letting one particular California producer get away with the enological equivalent of murder. Boxed “wine” from Franzia, specifically. Turns out, it’s not even wine…an affront to legitimate producers, and a violation of the Liquor Board’s own injunction against labeling that misleads consumers.

The phrase in question is Table Wine With Natural Flavorings.” In fact, says Abrams, the contents of the Franzia box should be called “Flavored Wine Product,” which would require Franzia to list the ingredients (including whatever distilled products are used to provide the alcohol content; Abrams doubts that it’s actually wine) and taxed as such. Franzia does provide a nutrition chart that skirts the question.

Meantime, Abrams’ former employers at the Wine Institute and Franzia’s attorneys have successfully lobbied the Liquor Board to ignore its own mandates (to collect taxes, to protect and educate the public etc.). At a recent meeting, the Board’s legal advisor pooh-poohed the argument that Franzia’s labeling was “misleading.” No minutes were kept.

Modest and courtly, Abrams is personally offended. “It’s not wine. It’s not right.”

Contact the author of this article or email with further questions, comments or tips.

I bring this up from concern that, perhaps, in some sacristy somewhere someone might be using some of this stuff.

If there is a DOUBT… JUST DON’T USE IT.



And, on that note… to all you idiot priests out there who screw around with the FORM of sacraments, such as the FORM of absolution….


If I could, I would hunt you down and make you pay…. er um… instruct you in the proper words of the form.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. majuscule says:

    Well, we had a problem when they wanted us to switch to white (real) wine…

  2. KAS says:

    Corruption at all levels. I’m horrified at this!

  3. Ignatius says:

    Recently, a priest friend of mine went to administer a baptism at one of the most important churches in Buenos Aires, one that is in charge of a mighty religious order. It turns out that, when in the sacristy, he noted a cupboard full of “mistela” but no wine for mass.

    Mistela is an alcoholic beverage, colloquially called “wine” but it clearly is not, since it is produced with (i) grape juice and (ii) added grape alcohol. Our laws clearly state that this is not to be considered or sold as wine. Wines for mass are easily available here and have special approvals, which this mistela has not (and cannot have).

    My friend asked the sacristan about this and he was told that since at least 15 years, mistela was used as wine for mass in this church. My friend wrote to the episcopal vicar for the zone informing him about this. He has not heard a beep in response…

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