From the creation of the world’s first vineyard, to the miracle of turning of water into wine, alcoholic beverages made from fermenting grapes have played a starring role in the Judeo-Christian religions from the very beginning.
Biblical scriptures mention wine more than 500 times, including those who should and should not drink wine, the spiritual transformations, ritual celebrations and supernatural occurrences.
In this article, we will explore the seven most pondered questions about wine and spirits in the bible.
The Top 7 Most Frequently Asked Questions about Wine & Spirits in Christianity:
7) Who Invented Wine in the Bible?
Of the many alcoholic beverages found throughout the world, red wine is one of the oldest. The invention of wine is attributed to the patriarch Noah in Genesis 9:20, where following the Great Flood he becomes a farmer and plants the world’s first vineyard.
The bible does not say why Noah decides to get naked-drunk overdoing it on wine. Perhaps fermentation was discovered by accident with Noah not wanting that old grape juice going to waste. All in all, surviving a world-ending deluge is a great reason to celebrate.
6) What’s the Difference Between Wine and Spirits?
The major differences between wine and spirits are how they are made and the level of alcohol concentration: Wine is made from fermenting grapes to an alcohol by volume (ABV) between 12% and 15%. Spirit meaning liquid, not Holy Ghost, are produced by fermenting – then distilling – grains, fruits and vegetables to an even higher alcohol content, generally above 30% (ABV).
When the barley harvest began, the first fruits were offered as a “tithing to the Lord” (Lev 23:10). The two grains – wheat and barley – are mentioned first in the Seven Species of the land of Israel. Barley is mentioned in the King James Version and in the English Standard Version 35 times.
Though spirit in the biblical sense refers to the Holy Ghost, it is fitting that barley and the barley harvest are mentioned in (Ruth:2:23), as barley was the first grain used to make whisky in recorded history.
In terms of grape based spirits, Dutch traders were the first to distill wine grapes from the Cognac region of France. Why? Because Cognac grapes make poor wine and shipping Cognac wine was a waste of time and money.
Burning Cognac wine down to a clear spirit prevented it from turning foul on the long journey from port to port. And now for the happy accident:
The aging of burnt wine in wooden barrels during the long journey at sea made it taste delicious! The original Dutch word for burnt wine is brandyewijn, today known as brandy. We can thank the Dutch for the miracle that occurs when we age spirits in wooden casks.
5) Why Is Wine Considered Sacred in Christianity?
The spiritual meaning of wine in the bible takes on many different manifestations. Wine often symbolizes the Blood of Christ, or metaphorically the blood shed by Jesus while he lay dying on the Cross, before his resurrection.
Red wine is poured to commemorate important biblical events, but it can also leave a pretty nasty stain. Many churches today use white wine or juice to avoid a bloody-looking mess.
One of the most famous moments is during the Last Supper, when Jesus tells his twelve disciples that one of them would be his betrayer. They all deny it of course, including Judas.
“And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it and gave it to them,” explaining, ‘This is my body given for you, do this in remembrance of me.’ ‘This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed out for you’.
The bread a symbol of his body and the wine a symbol of his blood being poured out for their sins to be forgiven.
Christians generally recognize the spiritual presence, though denominations differ as to how, where and when Christ is present. Be it physically or metaphorically, wine symbolizes the blood of Christ before his death and resurrection.
4) Where In the Bible Does It Say to Drink Wine?
The bible speaks of drinking wine in both positive and negative lights, including versus on how to drink responsibly with a few notable twists:
Ecclesiastes 10:19 ‘A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all things.
Proverb 31:7 ‘Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.’
Ephesians 5:18 ‘And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.
Psalms 104:15 ‘And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face shine, and bread that strengthens man’s heart.’
3) What Was Wine Like During the Time of Jesus?
Wines during biblical times were rich and intense, known as severe wines today. These wines are usually of a crimson or deep golden hue.
Full-bodied wines are more complex in flavor with a richer mouth-feel, with much of the flavor arising from the grape’s skin and stems known as tannins.
It was common in the Old World to cut these severe wines with water ––not only to balance the intensity, but to slow down the alcohol intake. If imbibers did not add water to their wine, they might be labeled a barbarian or brute by their brethren.
Are there ancient Style wines being made today?
By combining ancient grapes with modern techniques, a handful of wineries in Israel and Palestine are attempting to resurrect the style of wines from biblical times.
According to Eliyashiv Drori, an ancient wine researcher at Ariel University in Israel, wines during biblical times were not made exclusively from individual grape varieties, but were more likely blends. Drori has made it his mission to preserve grape seeds found at archaeological digs and has identified 120 varieties of grapes native to the region, with around 20 fit for making wine.
In the valley between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, where Jesus lived and spread the Gospel, there is at least one notable winery that uses ancient native grapes from the region.
2) What’s the Difference Between “Old Wine” and “New Wine” in the Bible?
The difference between old and new wine is based on fermentation and spiritual transformation: Old wine is fermented and includes alcoholic content. New wine mentioned in the new testament is often just grape juice that contains no alcohol.
New wine is symbolic of the Holy Spirit. Jesus first spoke of the new wine in association with the move of God. New wine is also associated with the harvest.
‘No one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. New wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wines wants the new, the old is better.’
The dominant interpretation of the old vs. new wine metaphor is that new wine refers to the movement of the kingdom of God toward Christianity, while the old garment and the old wineskins refer to Judaism.
1) Why Did Jesus Turn Water Into Wine?
Turning water into wine at the Wedding of Cana is the most epic supernatural occurrence attributed to Jesus in the Good News of John. The story presented in John 2:1-12 is where Jesus, his mother and his disciples are invited to a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee.
The miracle is performed by Jesus when the wine runs out during celebration.
The importance of wine in celebration and reverence to Christianity does not end here. What stories about wine in biblical and ancient times do you find fascinating? Raise a glass and let us know your thoughts in the comments sections below.