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Divine Vintage: Jesus would have loved Amarone

Posted: Saturday, 03 November 2012 12:31

Divine Vintage: Jesus would have loved Amarone

November 03: Although a significant majority of politicians, bureaucrats and consumers in India still equate wine with hard liquor, it has been part of the rituals in Christianity and Judaism, helping winemaking survive centuries of oppression and vine uprooting. ‘DiVine Vintage’, a soon-to-be-released book, co-authored by a Master of Wine and a Jewish scholar tracing the religious routes even muses that if Jesus were living today he would have liked Amarone

DiVine Vintage- Following the Wine Trail from Genesis to the Modern Times’ due to be released this month  has been written by Joel Butler, MW, the joint first Masters of Wine from the USA in 1990  and the current President of the Institute of Masters of Wine, North America, Ltd., who also coordinates the annual North American seminar program. He has teamed up with biblical scholar Randall Heskett for a remarkable journey that explores how wine has significantly influenced the evolution of human society through the lenses of historical fact and the interpretation of Biblical texts about wine.

Wine has been an essential part of Western Civilization’s religious and cultural experience for millennia. In Divine Vintage ($26.00), the authors discover the truth behind wine infiltrating the biblical world and describe facts that any wine lover, history buff or spiritually inclined person will find intriguing.

But even those uninterested in history will learn something from the book's second half which features a regional guide and tasting notes to the best current wine producers in Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Greece and Turkey through which the authors traveled extensively for their research, interviewing scholars and visiting excavation sites and studying ancient amphorae. There's even a fun musing on what Jesus would drink today -Amarone, for one.

Wine was  used to purify water, energize warriors, and hypnotize kings. From the moment in Genesis when Noah plants the first vineyard to the first miracle performed by Jesus Christ, one knows that wine was central to ancient civilization and is still central to Christian and Jewish rituals. But most don’t know that early man preferred wine that was aged at least six years.  Besides, vines were kept low to the ground- like bush vines- and trained to grow up as trees and not like the trellised hillside vineyards of today

"The people in the Bible thought the wine grape was magic because it was a solid that turned into a liquid and altered your mood," explains Heskett who is also a wine importer and founding president of Boulder University in Colorado. "We can sit back as modernists and say they were stupid, or we can suggest that the fact that it ferments on its own is still an act of magic and creation."

It may be awesome to discover the level of sophistication at which people have been producing, selling and preserving wine for centuries. For instance, the biblical Joseph, son of Jacob, discovered the first wine expert, or sommelier, in Genesis in the mid-second millennium. Ancient Egyptians  created the first wine labels, stating the  vintage of a wine by naming the reigning pharaoh at that time.

Today, as a modern wine renaissance takes hold in Greece, Turkey and Israel, it's more important than ever to understand the origin of wine, according to the authors. "They are getting back to their ancient roots," Heskett says. "Israel was once the crème de la crème of vineyards. It's a shame to think what kinds of indigenous varietals would be there today if it were not for 1,100 years of Islamic conquest. They tore out the grapes; it's heartbreaking.''

Interesting facts

Here are some interesting facts in the Divine Vintage, according to a report:

  1. An excavation at a 6,000-year-old site in Armenia last year revealed a fermenting vat, the remains of a drinking cup made from animal horn, storage jars, dried grapes, seeds, and traces of Malvidin, a compound that gives red wine its color.
  2. According to the authors interpretation, it is possible that the Israelites created a red sparkling wine long before Dom Perignon in Champagne;  "For a cup is in the hands of the Lord, and the wine foams" (Psalm 75:8).
  3. New research from Egyptian tombs suggests that white wine was introduced as early as the mid-second millennium BC, contrary to the general belief that red wine was produced first.
  4. The first wine reviews go back to the second  century AD, used to describe a white wine.
  5. The people in the ancient era had a taste for well-aged wines. Thirty-year-old wines were placed in the tomb of King Tut, the Egyptian pharaoh, so he could enjoy in the after-life.

If you want to know more about the book or read the new Blog called the Bible Wine Trail started by the duo to carry forward their research into the Bible as related to wine, you may write directly to

Subhash Arora




Guy Webber Says:

Sounds like a fascinating book.

Posted @ November 07, 2012 17:15


Randall Heskett, Ph.D Says:

I am a scholar of Hebrew Bible, Judaism and early Christianity I invited Joel Butler to team up with me on the book.

Posted @ November 07, 2012 11:38


Joel Butler MW Says:

Dear Subhash, many thanks for your overall very positive summation of our book. We also visited Georgia. Though this country is peripheral to biblical history, it is very important for preserving today the ancient winemaking styles someone like Jesus would have known and hopefully enjoyed. Also, in the Interesting Facts #3, we are not saying that white was invented first-only that before recent research (2008) showed white wine in Tut's tomb, it was agreed that white wine only began around the 3rd century BCE. Joel Butler MW

Posted @ November 05, 2012 11:02


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