An April 1st Vivino article speculated about what kind of wine was served at The Last Supper, suggesting that it may have been something like the full-bodied Italian Amarone wine from the Northeastern region of Italy. Here is the link to that article: http://www.vivino.com/news/searching-for-the-wine-from-the-last-supper
After reading this article I went to sleep, but then awoke in the early morning thinking about the fact that Jesus was actually a winemaker; there is evidence for this in John 2:1-11. As I thought about Jesus as a winemaker, I realized that He never sold the wine He made, but merely gave it away to others. So Jesus was, in fact, an amateur winemaker. This got me thinking—at 3 AM, mind you—that if there were other winemakers in the area during Jesus’ time on earth they might have been very interested in what He had to say about how to make wine. So I began imagining a scenario where Jesus wrote a book on winemaking in which He offered His advice on how to make good-quality wine.
While you might first think that advice from Jesus about anything would be golden, maybe that wouldn’t be the case for winemaking. So, with apologies in advance to anyone who might take offense for me using Jesus’ name and reputation in the following fictional story, I offer the following fictional newspaper article in the spirit of past re-imagined biblical stories told by comedians from the 1960s, such as Bob Newhart, Mel Brooks, and Carl Reiner.
Late Edition, Thursday, April 2, A.D. 33
The region is buzzing with the news that Jesus Christ has written a book on winemaking. Many of the most excited people are the amateur winemakers who attended the marriage feast in Cana of Galilee awhile ago and witnessed Jesus turn six jars of water into six jars of wine. Estimates are that each jar held 20-30 gallons, or a total transformation of perhaps 180 gallons of wine. Upon tasting this wine, the master of the banquet was heard to say to the bridegroom, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” That sort of statement was one of the primary reasons many amateur winemakers rushed out to purchase a copy of Jesus’ book, The Art of Winemaking Using Your Two Hands. It is the observation of this reporter that most amateur winemakers are suckers for any opportunity to make wine while spending the least amount of their hard-earned cash. The possibility of turning water into wine was apparently too tempting for most amateur winemakers not to purchase this new book. It quickly became a best seller.
It should be noted that not everyone has been enthusiastic about the winemaking advice offered in this new book, and the disgruntled numbers have grown with each passing week. Although some reviewers have praised the book’s brevity—each of the book’s 20 chapters is only one sentence in length—other reviewers have criticized it for being based on unscientific principles and questionable techniques that are unlikely to prove effective for the vast majority of winemakers. More on this later.
When asked about His winemaking training by reporters, Jesus has been somewhat vague, often mentioning that He served a “sort of apprenticeship” at the right hand of His Father, God the Almighty. Many residents in the region know that His Father became famous years ago throughout the Middle East by writing the popular “Ten Commandments,” which was widely disseminated by the publisher Moses. Now, His Son has ventured into the publishing realm, albeit with a more modest attempt at world transformation, namely, providing advice for winemakers.
The crux of the criticism directed at Jesus’ new book is that the winemaking advice He offers is likely only useful for supreme deities and not for mere mortals. For example, in the chapter on separating the gross lees from the freshly pressed young wine (Chapter 5: “Oh, That’s Gross!”), Jesus’ advice is simply a one-sentence directive: “Wave your hand over the wine.” This is Jesus’ often-prescribed technique that He refers to as the WHO technique, short for “Wave Hand Over.” The WHO technique was what Jesus used in turning the water into wine at the previously mentioned wedding, and He recommends it in His book for a host of winemaking issues, including off odors and flavors, excess astringency, stuck fermentations, and cold stabilization.
Unfortunately, there have been reports of some mishaps when amateur winemakers have attempted to use the WHO technique themselves. The most publicized incident occurred in Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth. Two of the town’s young residents, Jack and Jill, decided to act on Jesus’ advice for turning water into wine by going up a hill together on the outskirts of town to fetch a pail of water. Jack sustained a blow to his crown in the endeavor and, a short time later, the young girl took a terrible tumble. Both required medical attention. The case is currently in litigation, with Jesus listed as the defendant.
The other winemaking technique that Jesus repeatedly recommends in various chapters of His book is referred to as BAR, short for “Both Arms Raised.” This technique is a bit more labor intensive than the one-armed WHO method, and is Jesus’ suggested remedy for both degassing young wines (Chapter 7: “Do You Have Gas?”) and for dealing with hydrogen sulfide issues (Chapter 12: “Who Laid an Egg?”). It should be noted that Jesus has used the BAR technique not only in making wine but also on the Shores of Galilee when He turned five loaves of bread and two fish into enough sustenance to feed his entire audience of 5,000 worshipers, with food left over to fill twelve baskets.
You can imagine how some amateur winemakers responded after purchasing Jesus’ book and trying his two recommended techniques with their own wines and not achieving the same results as Jesus. At a recent book reading and signing session, one amateur winemaker, Saul of Hebron, raised his hand in the middle of Jesus’ presentation and asked the following question: “Ah, ok Jesus, so what you’re telling us is that you don’t use any potassium metabisulfite or yeast nutrients in your wines, and you don’t use malolactic bacteria, and you don’t even rack your wines off their gross lees? You just wave your hand over it, and that’s it? Is that the story you’re going to tell us? Your assistant, Thomas, appears to have a look of doubt on his face about what you’re telling us here.”
Because the wines that Jesus has made are by far the best-tasting wines anyone has ever encountered, He is frequently asked where He sources His grapes. Jesus’ response is simply to remind questioners about His WHO method and the marriage feast in Cana. Not taking Jesus at His word, a few skeptical winemakers recently shadowed the author and reported that He slipped into the Garden of Gethsemane late at night, but it was too dark to determine whether He was checking on any nearby grapevines. These amateur sleuths did report that Jesus engaged in an animated conversation while in the garden, but it was apparently with Himself and not with anyone attending the nearby grapevines.
In conclusion, it should be noted that a number of Jesus’ disciples—but not including Judas—have been telling the throngs of worshipers who follow their Leader wherever He travels that their Master is the source for great wisdom in life. Indeed, the disciples often tell anyone who will listen that if you are ever wondering what you should do in any situation you are faced with in life, ask yourself, “What would Jesus do?” Unfortunately, it is the opinion of this reporter that, while this is great advice for almost all of life’s decisions, it is advice that should not be heeded when contemplating any step in the winemaking process. The “WHO” technique and the “BAR” technique may yield high-quality wine for Jesus of Nazareth, but for the rest of us, we had best rely upon potassium metabisulfite and other tried-and-true winemaking ingredients and principles in order to produce drinkable wine.