Divine Vintage authors Joel Butler and Randall Heskett take readers along the ancient wine trails of Jesus’ time. Photo by Evan Boudreau

In search of the wines from biblical times

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  • December 8, 2012

TORONTO - In Divine Vintage: Following the Wine Trail from Genesis to Modern Times, authors Randall Heskett and Joel Butler ask not what would Jesus do but rather what wine would Jesus drink?

“If you read the last chapter of our book, we kind of put together a list,” said Heskett. “We went through 30 wines made (following) the ancient style because they were the only ones that we had the real empirical truth.”

Among those the authors found that are similar to the wines of the ancient world are Italian Josko Garvner’s 2004 Ribolla Gialla, Qvevery wines coming out of Georgia’s Kakaheti region and Rrkatsiteli’s 2009 Pheasant’s Tears, also from Georgia.

Of course, with Israel’s ancient vineyards destroyed during the collapse of the Roman Empire, Heskett admits these selections are what he and Butler, one of North America’s first Masters of Wine, assume to be similar to the wines Jesus would have enjoyed.

How they arrived at these educated guesses is simple. The duo travelled the globe drinking wine produced in ancient ways from grapes such as Greece’s Asyrtiko, which has existed for more than 3,500 years.

“That’s what makes this book different from any other book written on the Bible and wine,” said Heskett, who holds a PhD in theology. “We are the first to use our sense to make an educated guess about what kinds of wines Jesus would drink. It’s not just a rational question, it’s a sensory question.”

What makes wine from the ancient world unique is the subtleties.

“New world wines, more often, display fruit, and other nuances are rare,” said Heskett. “We call them fruit bombs and it’s because it’s all fruit and nothing else. The earthiness and the leatheriness and the gamey kinds of flavours, you are not picking up those nuances in new world wines.”

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