and Christianity have mingled together since the earliest of times, and the
Easter season offers a good opportunity to explore some wines that have a
religious story behind their creation. Religion largely discourages
drunkenness, but religious scholars can find statements that view wine
consumption both as sinful and as a gift that God has given to his followers to
increase enjoyment of life on earth.
Wine is first mentioned in Genesis, the first
book of the Old Testament and the Hebrew Torah when Noah plants a vineyard,
makes wine, and inadvertently ends up naked and inebriated. This is probably
the first written warning of the dangers involved in the over consumption of
alcohol. As the Old Testament story continues, however, wine is later noted to
be a blessing that can “gladden the heart of man” in the book of Psalms.
Jewish ritual of the Seder Plate at Passover includes four cups of wine as part
of the redemption ceremony, each with a different significance. One represents
salvation from harsh labor when the plagues came to Egypt, one for salvation
from servitude under Ramses, one for redemption with the parting of the Red Sea
to prevent recapture, and the final cup to celebrate becoming a new nation at
Sinai. There is also a fifth cup set aside for Elijah which is not consumed.
In the New Testament, there are several
positive mentions of wine. The first miracle that Jesus performs is to turn
water into wine at a wedding in Cana. In the book of Timothy, Paul recommends
that he should stop drinking only water and add a little wine to help with his
The most significant use of wine in this part
of the Christian Bible is when Jesus uses it as a symbol of his blood at the
Last Supper. It is still used at communion services in many churches today.
In the Middle Ages, Benedictine and
Cistercian monks cultivated vineyards throughout Europe to create wine for use
for the Eucharist or Communion sacrament. Many of these vineyards are still in
existence in modern times. The knowledge they gained and preserved in written
form is still pertinent to vineyard sites, grape selection, and climate
Charlemagne, the Holy Roman Emperor in 800 A.D.,
encouraged a higher standard of viticulture or winemaking. He preferred the
screw press to the treading of grapes by foot, and he also preferred barrels
instead of animal skins for storage.
Monasteries received income from the sale of
their additional wine which was not needed for sacramental purposes. This
helped the Church to prosper. Wine was used medicinally as an anesthetic for
pain and in many areas, it was safer to drink than water, so, moderate
consumption was not frowned upon.
This April, as families enjoy meals together,
consider doing as it says in Ecclesiastes, “Go, eat your food with gladness,
and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you
Wines for April
Mastroberardino Lacryma Christi BiancoThe
name translates to “the tears of Christ.” Legend says that Jesus' tears fell
from heaven onto Mt. Vesuvius when it was discovered that Lucifer had stolen a
piece of heaven, the Gulf of Naples, when he was cast out. These tears sparked
the growth of the region’s densely planted
grapevines on steep slopes of mineral rich soil.
dry, fresh white has light floral and citrus notes with a mineral-laced finish.
It is best served with seafood dishes and can be found on the Island at Spec’s for
Lacryma Christi Rosso
is the red version which is made from Piedirosso grapes. It is dry and
full-bodied with spicy red fruit aromas and flavors. This wine is a good
accompaniment to hearty beef meals. Available online.
Est!! Est!!! di Montefiascone
fresh, crisp white wine with notes of citrus, apple, and almond skin is made
from Trebbiano and Ugni Blanc grapes grown on volcanic soils in Lazio. The
unique name comes from the story of a German bishop who was headed to
Rome in the 12th century to meet the Pope before the German king was crowned as
the new Holy Roman Emperor. The bishop was determined to make the most of his
time, so he sent his manservant a day ahead of him to search for accommodations
that also boasted quality wines.
alert the bishop to which inns provided the best drink, his manservant would
write the word “Est!” which means "It is!” on the door. The servant was
so pleased with the wine from the village of Montefiascone that he wrote the
words “Est! Est!! Est!!!” upon the inn’s door. When
the bishop arrived, he too, found the wine to be extraordinary.
wine from this region would bear the name Est! Est!! Est!!! di Montefiascone
from that day forward. Later, the bishop would return to the area and lived
there until he died. This wine is best served with simple salads or Mediterranean
dishes. Available online.
Tuscan wine’s name translates to “holy wine.” Winemakers dry the grapes by
hanging them up in bunches or by drying them on racks in warm attics. After 3-4
months of this process, right around Easter in the spring, the grapes have
concentrated natural sugars and flavors.
wine is pressed, fermented, and aged for a minimum of three years, creating a
full-bodied, golden-hued wine with notes of honey and nuts. This wine is
considered a dessert wine.