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Monday, March 19, 2007

A Wine Connoisseur Reviews His Church's Communion



And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Acts 2:42

...the Lord's Table should have been spread at least once a week for the assembly of Christians, and the promises declared in it should feed us spiritually.

John Calvin

My church, Ontario United Reformed Church, celebrates the Lord's Supper every Sunday, as do most of the churches in Classis Southwest of the URC. And if your church doesn't celebrate weekly communion, I must say that it really ought to. So be sure to pester your elders and sow seeds of division until it does.

OK, just kidding about that last bit. But you can find solid reasons here, here, here, and here for biblical support of weekly communion.

My fellow congregant and friend Charles, coming from an Anglican background, suggested that we switch to the Common Cup for our communion (where all of the congregants receive wine from the same chalice). I responded that I'd just be happy if we used a bigger cup so that it didn't seem like we were taking paltry sips of medicine from the small 1/4 ounce plastic cups. Not enough to get anyone drunk, mind you, but enough so that it is a real drink (along with a corresponding portion of bread), to reflect the fact that Christ and His Gospel truly nourish us, and that His blessings are not paltry tokens or meager portions for our soul.

When I started attending Ontario URC, I noticed that the wine used in the communion was a particularly tasty, sweet wine. Now, contrary to the title of this post, I'm not really a wine connoisseur. I'll drink red wines (usually cabs, pinot noirs, or port) sometimes, but I'm a much bigger fan of British ales during the course of a normal meal. And I'll take a single malt Scotch over even the best port to finish off the evening after a meal. [Incidentally, our Pastor Adam rejected my proposal to replace the communion wine with single malt Scotch. While not disagreeing with it's merits, he was pretty sure the consistory wouldn't approve. Darn.] Anyway, I was pleased enough with the taste of our communion wine and so inquired as to what we were using. Turns out that we use Manischewitz, a Jewish-made "kosher" wine made of concorde grapes.

So I went ahead and picked up a whole bottle at the grocery store some time back. Hey, it was only $4, so why not? I wondered if it'd be a good wine to try in a normal quantity in a normal wine glass over a meal. My evaluation is that Manischewitz has all of the subtlety and complexity of cotton candy, and, come to think of it, was roughly as sweet as cotton candy. I'll say that it is a good drink, but notice that I didn't say it is a good wine. It is far too sweet to have this in any normal quantity as you would a real wine. And even a lower-grade dessert wine (like sherry or port), which can be nearly as sweet, has far more body, complexity, and character than this stuff. A real wine connoisseur probably wouldn't use words like "bouquet", "tannic", "tart", "balanced", or any of the usual descriptors in a sober review of Manischewitz. Phrases like "remeniscent of Hi-C" and "aftertaste hints of Kool-Aid" would be more appropriate.

Category: Theoblogia

2 Comments:

  • David: Great post! There is a sound reason(s) for using kosher grape wine: Our Lord referred to "the fruit of the vine", not the "fruit of the bush..." Second, it must be natural wine, which fits the description of Manischewitz. Third, it must be real wine, not grape juice. (This is not to cause problems for those whose consciences are tender or have medical problems.

    Weekly Sacrament? I concur! Communion hymn by Reginald Heber:

    Bread of the world in mercy broken,
    Wine of the soul, in mercy shed.
    By whom the words of life were spoken,
    And in whose death our sins are dead
    Look on the heart by sorrow broken,
    Look on the tears by sinners shed.
    And be this feast to us the token.
    That by thy grace our souls are fed. Tune Song 34
    Charles
    Prayerbook and Reformed.

    By Blogger CB in Ca, at 5:58 PM  

  • A sacrament including single malts... hmm...

    What church do you attend again?

    By Blogger foulkesfamily, at 2:07 PM  

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