Wine : The Purpose
A drink which the French get drunk over, yet is known as the Blood of Christ? A drink that could most likely be the oldest form of alcohol made by humankind? What is this mysterious substance that is enjoyed by gods, demons and people alike? It’s WINE!
Wine is one of the few alcohols that’s not only consumed universally but is also an integral part of major world cultures. In Christianity, the Eucharist involves the consumption of wine as the blood of Christ, while the Greeks used wine as a mind altering substance in the Dionysian Mysteries. One can find the best of wine being served at fine dining restaurants and wine tasting events across the globe, as well as the cheaper variant - port wine, being consumed by college students and burly sailors as well. What is the story behind the synthesis of this complex wine culture that we have today? And more importantly, why is it so important? Let’s take a look at the facts.
It’s interesting to know that the oldest form of wine was probably some form of Rosé wine, as that is the variety yielded when using the most straightforward method of creation. According to the most conclusive archaeological evidence, wine was consumed about 9000 years ago (!) in China, while the oldest winery discovered yet is the Areni - 1 winery in Armenia, which is at least 8000 years old. Humans figured out how to make wine before discovering how to craft metals. Really puts into perspective as to what’s more important, doesn’t it?
Wine went on to become a very important part of many cultures, to the point where religion had started to become associated with it. The Greeks were particularly crazy about it. The most famous example of this would be Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and ritual ecstasy. Wine was an integral part of the Dionysian Mysteries, a mystery religion which used wine and dancing to induce a trance like state to liberate the individual from the constraints of society. Plato in his Laws also argued that alcohol should be the basis of any educational system, as it promotes relaxation of otherwise strict beliefs. The next time your professors happen to apprehend you for alcohol consumption, why not quote Plato? (Please don’t. Forget that I said that.)
The Egyptians fancied a lot of alcohol as well and historians say that they had at least 24 different types of wine! Talk about options, huh? Wine was used in ancient Egypt not only for chilling purposes, but it was also used as offerings to the gods as the red color made them equate it with blood. It was also used in rituals where humans would be possessed by gods, who would predict events and give indications about omens.
Enough about the rest, let’s talk about the history of wine in India! The Harappans were probably getting tipsy on a form of rice wine, which may also have been consumed by the Vedic people.
It was called Sura, and was said to be the favorite drink of the god Indra. The great chieftain of the gods, Indra, was said to enjoy Sura before a war, as it induced a berserker-like frenzy and also dulled out the pain. And after the war to, of course, celebrate.
Fun (?) Fact : Wine made in India (Sura) was available to all the castes for consumption, but wine made of grapes, which was usually imported (Madhu) was only available to the upper castes, mainly the Kshatriyas, as most Brahmins weren’t allowed to drink (but some drank anyway.) It is also mentioned by Chanakya in 4th century BC!
India in the recent years has enjoyed the attention of winemakers and investors from all over the world. Vineyards like Chateau Indage, Fratelli, Sula and others have started producing some of the best wine in the world right here, in our country! Grover-Zampa Chêne, Fratelli Sette and Reveilo Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve are just some of the best red wines produced in India, and decanting them for a couple of hours before consumption is highly recommended. While if you’re a college student with a limited budget, looking to woo your crush, these may help you - Grover La Reserve, Sula Zinfandel- Red and York Sparkling Cuvée Brut.
The ancients used wine for divinations, rituals, education, dulling of physical pain and raising consciousness; while here we are escaping life problems by ‘drinking our troubles away’ and concerning ourselves with trivialities like wine-tasting (which is most likely a pile of bullshit; read Frédéric Brochet’s 2001 study).
Wine is a beautiful drink, and sacred in the way that it has helped our thoughts, cultures and society develop. So the next time you’re having a glass, ask yourself - what’s my reason?