What Wine Would Jesus Drink? We May Finally Have The Answer

Leonardo Da Vinci’s iconic painting, “The Last Supper,” missed a few marks, but it got the wine part right.

Biblical historians have long pondered what dishes may have been on the table at the Last Supper. One thing that’s almost certain is that Jesus and his disciples were drinking wine.

Many elements of the Last Supper remain contested. Scholars even dispute the question of whether the Last Supper was a Seder ― a traditional meal observed during the Jewish holiday of Passover ― which might have indicated the specifics of the meal.

The canonical gospels contradict one another on that front. Three out of four of them locate the Last Supper during the Jewish holiday, while one, the Gospel of John, says the meal happened “before the Feast of Passover.”

Jonathan Klawans, a religion professor at Boston University and expert on ancient Judaism, weighed the evidence in a January article published by the Biblical Archaeology Society. Klawans noted that the traditional Seder ritual as we know it today didn’t emerge until around 70 A.D. ― nearly two generations after Jesus’s death. The Last Supper, the scholar concluded, likely “was not a Seder but a standard Jewish meal.”

Seder or no, a “standard Jewish meal” in Jesus’s day would have included wine. The land of Jesus’s life and death has a long history of winemaking. In 2016, Israeli archaeologists discovered an ancient wine ledger that contained what they believe to be the earliest written reference to Jerusalem outside the Bible.

Research conducted by Dr. Patrick McGovern, an anthropology professor at…

What’s For Dinner: Crisp Chicken Francese With White Wine Peas

When most of us are faced with the need to get a weeknight dinner on the table in under 30 minutes, we opt for simple foods like grilled cheese or quesadillas (which are basically the same thing). Those are great meals, but they are not the only choice. In fact, you can whip up what feels like a super gourmet meal in…

Wine Stories: Mexico’s Wine Renaissance

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The Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico’s center of fine wine production.

The Mexican wine industry is simultaneously the birthplace of North American wine and its newest frontier. It boasts the oldest winery in the New World and it is one of the largest growers of grapes in the Americas, but paradoxically makes only a tiny 20 million liters of wine a year. By comparison, the United States produces three billion liters. Mexico has over 100,000 acres of vineyards, but most of these are devoted to brandy production. Mexico, incidentally, is the third largest producer of brandy in the world.

The origins of Mexico’s wine industry go back to 1521 and the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire. Legend has it that one of Hernán Cortéz’s first orders in 1524, as governor of New Spain, was that each colonist was to plant 1,000 grapevines, for each 100 native employees, each year for five years. This was several decades before the planting of grapes in Chile (1548) and Argentina (1551).

Early attempts to grow grapes in the more tropical areas of Mexico failed. Grapes were planted in the Parras Valley of Coahuila in 1593, followed by Puebla and Zacatecas. Lorenzo Garcia founded Casa Madero, the first Mexican winery, in Santa Maria de las Parras in Coahuila in 1597. It is today one of Mexico’s largest wine producers and the oldest winery in the Americas. Ironically, vines from the Parras Valley were later exported to California’s Napa Valley, as well as to Chile and Argentina.

Generally speaking, grapes in the northern hemisphere are grown between 30 degrees and 50 degrees of latitude. Mexico is unusual in that most of the country lies south of the 30th parallel. The combination of high altitude vineyards and the cooling effects of winds and fogs from the Pacific, however, have allowed grapes to thrive.

Initially, the Mexican wine industry flourished. Grapevines adapted readily to Mexico’s Mediterranean climate. The Spanish emperor, Charles I, even ordered that all ships traveling to New Spain bring a quota of grapevines for cultivation. The first grape variety grown was the ubiquitous Mission grape of California known locally as Listan Prieto; the same variety is called Criolla in Argentina and Pais in Chile.

The situation took a turn for the worse at the end of the 17th century, however. Rising French wine production began to cut in on European demand for Spanish wines. In an effort to protect the domestic wine industry, Charles II banned the production of wine in Spain’s foreign colonies in 1699, and required them to import Spanish wine instead.

The Catholic missions were exempt from the ban and allowed to make small quantities of wine for religious purposes. It was a Jesuit priest, Juan Jugarte, who established, in 1701, the first vineyards in Baja California at Loreto Mission. Jugarte, along with Father Juan Maria Salvatierra, were moving north to California, establishing missions along the way. The Santo Tomas Mission, founded by Jesuits in 1791, became Mexico’s largest wine producer.

The Dominicans followed in 1843, and established the first vineyards in Baja’s Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe del Norte Valley. Today the Guadalupe Valley is the center of Mexico’s fine wine production and the region boasts over 50 wineries.

Despite being restricted to making only small quantities of wine for sacramental purposes, the Catholic missions became significant wine producers. Between 1699 and 1857, the various Catholic missions produced virtually all wine in Mexico. The industry remained small, but otherwise healthy.

The Mexican government, following the War of Reform in 1857, seized all the land holdings of the Catholic Church. Some of the vineyards, like San Tomaso, were sold to Mexican investors. That winery has continued to operate to this day. Many of the mission vineyards, however, were simply abandoned.

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A winery in Mexico’s Guadalupe Valley

The arrival of the Molokans, pacifist Russian Christian refugees, in the late 19th century to the Guadalupe Valley, gave the Mexican wine industry a fresh start. The Molokans were farmers who were escaping persecution at the hands of the Czar’s army. They purchased 100 acres of land and began growing wine grapes. They also introduced modern farming and winemaking practices to the region.

The wine industry lost a huge part of its vineyards to Phylloxera at the turn of the century. The industry was further disrupted by the violence and domestic turmoil that accompanied the Mexican revolution of 1910. Many wine estates were destroyed or abandoned by their owners. The growth of the Mexican beer industry following the revolution also slowed the recovery of the wine industry as beer became more popular than wine. Mexicans also have the distinction of having the highest per capita consumption of Coca Cola.

The wine industry recovered somewhat in the 1920s. In 1949 the National Association of Wine Producers was created with an initial membership of fifteen wineries. Fourteen more producers joined during the 1950s. During the 1970s production tripled through a combination of expanded vineyards and an increase in wine production capacity.

High-end wine production in Mexico began in the 1970s. Casa Pedro Domecq began operations in the Guadalupe valley in 1972. Shortly after, Hugo D’Acosta organized La Escuelita to teach local growers modern methods for processing their grapes into wine. The school also functioned as a cooperative, providing the necessary equipment to growers for wine production. By the end of the decade, Mexican wine producers were selling four million cases a year. The decision of the Mexican government to open up its wine market to foreign producers, however, resulted in a significant drop in domestic production.

Today Baja California, which is the epicenter of Mexico’s fine wine industry, and responsible for 90 percent of production, only sells 1.6 million cases of wine a year. It is widely accepted, however, that the quality of Mexican wine has increased significantly over the last 40 years. There are approximately 100 wineries in Mexico, with over 50 of them headquartered in the Guadalupe Valley. Mexico is the 25th largest wine producer in the world, but ranks only 66th in wine consumption.

In 2015, Mexican wine consumption was about four million cases. Roughly a third was from domestic production and the balance was from foreign imports. About two-thirds of those imports were from Europe and the balance from other wine producing regions, especially Chile, Argentina and Australia. Per capita wine consumption in Mexico is about .4 gallons per year compared to two gallons in the United States and 15 gallons in France. Per capita wine consumption has doubled in the last decade and has become the aspirational beverage of Mexico’s growing middle class.

Today, Mexico boasts two major grape growing areas. The northern area includes Baja and Sonora, as well as the Parras Valley in the La Laguna area astride Coahuila and Durango. These are the principal production zones for fine wines, with the overwhelming majority in Baja. Much of Sonora’s wine production is slated for distillation into brandy. Aguascalientes, Zacatecas and Queretaro in central Mexico mostly produce grapes for brandy and sherry production, although there is also significant production of sparkling wines.

Generally speaking these regions have climates ranging from Mediterranean to desert-like. Annual precipitation ranges from 10 to 12 inches to as little as three to four. Irrigation is unavoidable and relies on a combination of natural springs and ground water.

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Sparkling wine production at Cavas Freixenet in Quertaro

Baja’s vineyards have humid winters, dry warm summers, and cooling morning fogs and sea breezes. Average summer temperatures are 86 degrees Fahrenheit and winter temperatures are 42 degrees Fahrenheit. The climate and many of the varietals grown are similar to California’s Napa Valley, a similarity that has led many to label the region the next Napa Valley. Similarities notwithstanding, it is generally warmer and drier than Napa.

This region produces around 90 percent of Mexico’s fine wines from four principal areas in the San Antonio de las Minas zone around the port city of Ensenada: Valley of Guadalupe, Calafia Valley, San Vicente Valley, Santo Tomas Valley and, to a lesser extent, the San Rafael Valley. These valleys…

5 Healthy Reasons to Have a Glass of Wine Tonight

It seems like no one can get enough of red wine, scientists included; every day there seems to be another study touting the amazing benefits of the plum-colored beverage. Lucky for us, the proof is in the long-stemmed glass (just one, since drinking more may be detrimental to your health). Here are five reasons unwinding with a glass of red after a long day should be on your list of to-dos — one reason for every workday!

  1. It’s good for your heart: Antioxidants in red wine called flavonoids have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) levels and increasing the production of good cholesterol. According to researchers at the University of California, Davis, certain varietals have more concentrations of flavonoids than others. Of the most common red…

What’s hitting the shelves? New product launches in November

New beverage product launches November 2016
Related tags: Beverage launches, Iced coffee, New products, Wine, Soft drinks, Non-alcoholic drinks, Whisky, Diageo, Belvoir, Protein, US, UK, India, South Korea

Our monthly round-up of some of the new launches around the globe includes a drink that harnesses plant protein power, a non-alcoholic beverage that mimics wine, and limited editions for the festive season.

Belvoir launches wine alternative

Cordial, pressé and fruit crush company Belvoir Fruit Farms has developed a wine alternative range, intended to mimic the sensation of drinking wine but without the alcohol.

Belvoir Shiraz, Belvoir Chardonnay and Belvoir Rosé (pictured as the main image in this article) are made with natural ingredients, without artificial additives, preservatives, colorings, sweeteners or added sugar.

Pev Manners, MD, Belvoir Fruit Farms, said, “These drinks have been developed to actually emulate the texture and sensation of drinking wine. We have used our expertise in blending fruit juices to recreate the pleasures of consuming wine, but minus the associated sore head!

“We think that as more people adopt a healthier lifestyle the demand for drinks like these will grow.”

Shiraz and Rose are currently available exclusively at Tesco in the UK. The range and availability will widen in March 2017. The drinks retail at around £2.99 a bottle.

Protein powered by plants

Koia, a 100% plant-based protein drink, has launched exclusively at Whole Foods Market nationwide in the US.

There are three flavors: Vanilla Bean, Cacao Bean and Coconut Almond. Each beverage retails for $5.99 and can be found in the refrigerated section.

Koia says it delivers an ‘unrivaled 5-to-1 ratio of plant protein to sugar content’, with natural ingredients that are soy-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and non-GMO.

A 12-ounce serving of Koia contains 16-18 grams of plant-based protein and 5-8 grams of natural fiber. The beverage is positioned as an ideal meal accompaniment, post workout beverage or healthy snack.

“A proprietary blend of rice, pea and hemp proteins are at the heart of Koia’s recipe, helping to create a smooth, craveable texture in a chilled, grab-and-go beverage,” said co founder Dustin Baker.

“The line stands apart from other functional beverages by significantly trimming excess sugars and calories in favor of simple, plant-based ingredients.”

Milder alcoholic drinks in South Korea

Diageo launches W Signature

Diageo Korea has launched a lower alcohol Scotch whisky in South Korea, seeing demand for…

Disney’s Pete’s Dragon Movie Night Guide

Thanksgiving has passed and with winter break on the horizon, you may be on the look out for unique ways to spend quality time with family and friends. No matter what your plans are, if you’re going on a vacation or relaxing at home with a staycation, hosting an Around The World Movie Night will be the most talked about event of the season!

Around the World Movie Night is fun for all ages, and the best part is that everyone learns something new. Starting this kick off monthly event (you can do it as often as you like, but new movies and food/drink will be posted every month), the movie is Pete’s Dragon. The movie was filmed in New Zealand, and the beautiful island is one of the countries that mark the ‘starting point’ of the earth’s rotation. Around The World education has already begun!

This guide will provide recipes paired with wine for the adults, and non-alcoholic for the underage set or those that simply don’t want or care to indulge. Each food and wine will coincide with a region from the movie, along with interesting facts to discuss afterwards.

Disney’s Pete’s Dragon is the reimagined version of the 1970’s film. The story follows Pete and his friend Elliott, who happens to be a dragon. Together, they develop an incredible relationship, encounter breathtaking adventures, and overcome insurmountable hurdles. Rounded out by an extraordinary cast, including Robert Redford and Bryce Dallas Howard, the movie is the perfect balance of excitement, suspense, emotion, and wonder.

Pete meets Elliott early in the movie, and the fun can start right away. Most of the forest scenes were shot near Rotorua’s Redwood Forest in the Bay of Plenty region, and the area is known as New Zealand’s Maori cultural hub, and for it’s geothermal activity. If you want a specific starting point, not just the forest scenes, introduce the wine/juice when Pete encounters a bear on a river’s edge, and Elliott pops up behind him to scare the bear away. This scene was filmed in McLaren Falls, about an hour out of Rotorua.

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For this portion of the movie, try the 2014 Mills Reef Reserve Sauvignon Blanc (Bay of Plenty Region). Coming in at under $30 a bottle, this award winning wine is perfect to…

5 Wines That Are Pretty Much Meant for Thanksgiving

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In 2015, Martin Sheehan-Stross was named one of America’s Best New Sommeliers by Wine & Spirits magazine. In 2016, he was proclaimed Best Young Sommelier in the World by Chaîne des Rôtisseurs. When he’s not dominating wine competitions both home and abroad, Martin serves as Lead Sommelier at Michelin star restaurant Michael Mina, and recently co-founded a burgeoning direct-to-consumer wine company, Foot of the Bed Cellars.

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Top: Martin Sheehan-Stross, winner of ‘America’s Best New Sommelier’ award; Bottom: Martin with Luc Bergevin, Founder & CEO of Food of the Bed Cellars

I was both honored and grateful when Martin offered to share his favorite Thanksgiving wines with me (and now you!), and I’m very much looking forward to enjoying these gems with friends and family come Nov 24th. Below are his recommendations, along with a description of each bottle in his own words. Cheers!

Ok, ok this is cider not wine. But, as a Champagne fanatic myself, I have to say that this is on par with most special occasion bubbles. Eric Bordelet made a name for himself as a sommelier in Paris prior to taking over the family apple and pear orchards in the Northwest. This particular bottling comes from 300 year old pear trees! A balanced style with only a touch of sweetness, the intense tree fruit aromas are perfect to whet your holiday…

Winter Is Coming, But So Is ‘Game Of Thrones’ Wine

Your “Game of Thrones” viewing parties just got even better.

HBO announced it’s partnering with Vintage Wine Estates to create some “Game of Thrones” vino. And they’ll release the Seven Kingdom Wines collection in time for the series’ seventh season.

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Jeff Peters, director of licensing and retail for HBO, told Entertainment Weekly, “Given the prominent role of wine on ‘Game of Thrones’ and our previous success in…