ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

I would like to know what kind of wine was served at the Last Supper or in those times. Any ideas?

—Alex P., Miami

Dear Alex,

While it's impossible to know what was served at a single meal that long ago, I checked with Patrick McGovern, who quite possibly has the longest title in the world: Senior Research Scientist and Adj. Associate Prof. of Anthropology at the Museum Applied Science Center for Archaeology, University of Pennsylvania Museum.

More importantly, Patrick has recently written a book called Ancient Wine: The Search for the Origins of Viniculture. I asked McGovern what he thought about what kind of wine would be served back then, and this is what he said:

"Although my book Ancient Wine doesn't go much past the Iron Age, the germ of the idea about what was probably drunk at the Last Supper is there in the chapter titled 'The Holy Land's Bounty.' Especially on pages 234-5, you'll see that a range of wines were available, whether one smoked, pressed from raisins, or laced with herbs, fruits and/or tree resins. One thing—it didn't have to be kosher, since that development came later. In any case, any grape juice must soon have developed into wine, given the warm Holy Land climate. I often get asked about whether it couldn't be grape juice—unlikely."

—Dr. Vinny


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