Is Wine Divine? The Dept. of Justice – Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms controls the sale of wine in the United States. It has been treated like a sinister habit since the end of Prohibition in 1933. But, the origins of wine, which you can trace back over 10,000 years, tell us a different story.
From the beginning, due to its’ unique ability to ferment naturally without human intervention, the ancient civilizations all believed that wine was of divine origin. That was because they could not explain the process of fermentation. Wine had the miraculous ability to raise the spirits and encourage conviviality, friendship, and love. In fact, inebriation was viewed as a spiritual state and incorporated into many religious rituals.
Wine evolved to help identify different cultures primarily through its use in the practice of faith. Symbolic of divine faith, the grape happened to be the color of human blood and the vine itself was able to survive the harsh winter and renew itself in the spring to naturally nourish once again. Ancient people drank wine as a magical or divine beverage.
The Bible contains numerous references to wine as a sacred gift from God not to be abused, not the least of which represent it as the symbolic host or blood of Jesus, to be used in affirming faith in the act of communion.
The ancient Greeks and Romans brought grape vines with them as they conquered northern Europe. These were to extend religious belief and culture to the conquered tribes.
By the fall of the Roman Empire, the Medieval Christians departed from the belief that all wine was sacred. They separated holy wine from that for daily consumption, thus secularizing wine, paving the way for wine to become an important part of commerce and trade.
By contrast, in the Islamic world followers of Mohammad outlawed wine on earth as too much of a temptation. The Koran depicts Paradise as a garden of gardens, running with fountains of wine. Their belief is that it is best to save divine wine as your reward in heaven.
It is fitting that today wine still retains somewhat mystical qualities. When consumed moderately it does lift moods, contribute to conviviality, friendship and, yes – even love. Although we now understand the process of fermentation, it is still somewhat revered as a ‘god given’ phenomenon