Book Review: Divine Vintage: Following the Wine Trail From Genesis to Modern Age by Randall Heskett and Joel Butler

Divine Vintage: Following the Wine Trail From Genesis to Modern Age by Randall Heskett and Joel Butler is a fascinating account of the history of viticulture from the biblical age to modern times.  The authors stressed in the beginning that they were not treating the Bible as if it were a book one would reference in history class, since some of the books are more figurative and metaphorical.

Image Source: http://www.tatteredcover.com/files/tatteredcover/9780230112438.jpg

Image Source: http://www.tatteredcover.com/files/tatteredcover/9780230112438.jpg

In their own words, “we will argue…that wine consumption not only linked God’s covenant with Israel, continuing with the rites of Judaism today, but is also linked to the very core of Christian theology.  The book is written in such a way that one never feels as though they were being converted to any religion or another, but in such a way that simply illustrated the role wine played in Biblical times based on the words of those who wrote the books contained therein.

The book is split up into two parts:  Part I delves into the details of the history of viticulture as described in the Bible, while Part II takes the reader on a tour of the modern vineyards and wineries along the route of the Apostle Paul’s (one of the Bible’s many authors) third missionary journey during 52-57 CE.

Part I was the slower reading portion of the book for me, as it was heavy with biblical information and knowledge that can be dry and complex at times.  However, it is crammed full of very fascinating descriptions of how wine was portrayed in Biblical times, and creates a colorful image in one’s mind regarding the state of wine in the minds of popular Biblical characters and times.

After learning all about the history of wine in the Bible, Part II of Divine Vintage: Following the Wine Trail From Genesis to Modern Age by Randall Heskett and Joel Butler describes in great detail the current state of viticulture and viniculture on the “Modern Divine Wine Trail” in countries including Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Israel, and Greece.  The authors personally visited each and every winery listed in the book, and not only provided interesting history of each winery and vineyard, but also tasting notes of the authors’ favorite wines from each winery.

By Dave Bullock from Derby, UK (Bible Original) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Dave Bullock from Derby, UK (Bible Original) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The final chapter is the one that I found most interesting and begs the question: “What Would Jesus Drink”? WWJD??  Based on what is known about the wines that may have been available during Jesus’ time, and on the knowledge that Jesus was likely a “foodie” and quite possibly a big fan of wine, the authors determined which wine(s) in the current industry Jesus may have enjoyed on his journey throughout his life and travels.

So, what would Jesus drink?  I can’t tell you—you’ll have to read the book for yourself to find out ;).

I recommend this book for anyone interested in the history of wine, history of religion, and history of human culture.

To purchase Divine Vintage: Following the Wine Trail From Genesis to Modern Age by Randall Heskett and Joel Butler, please Click here to purchase from Amazon.