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Wine Mythology & Legend

Wine Mythology & Legend

The Legends Behind the Drink of the Vine

If there were ever a drink that inspired some stories worth repeating, wine is the beverage that reigns supreme. You may even have a few tales of your own that started with a bottle of your favorite wine. Don’t worry, you don’t have to share those here – we can talk about them later over a glass!

Wine is a beverage that has inspired legendary stories, myths, and is even prominent in a few of the world’s major religions. No other drink in the world has quite captured the mystique and intrigue of wine, and many cultures across the globe have their own legends pertaining to the discovery of this revered beverage. When gods and goddesses are involved, you know that these stories are about to be good. 

There are several myths and legends for us to discuss, so let’s get right to it! Let’s travel through cultures all across the earth to learn more about the stories behind our favorite drink – wine. 

Legends of the Discovery of Wine

The first stop on our worldly journey of wine legends brings us to Persia – a historic region in southwest Asia in what is now modern-day Iran. Persian legend says that in 4000 B.C., a bird brought seeds to the King’s feet. The king planted the seeds, which grew vines and produced grapes. The grapes were collected and stored in the royal deposit. 

Over time, as the grapes aged, they fermented and produced a dark liquid, that liquid being wine. However, at the time, this liquid was thought to be poisonous. One of the King’s wives tried to commit suicide by drinking the liquid, but she didn’t get the result she expected. She was found later singing and dancing happily – becoming the first person to be intoxicated by wine. The King called the drink “Darou ē Shah”, or the King’s remedy, which is thought to be connected to modern-day Shiraz

Legends of the Discovery of Wine

Another legend about the discovery of wine comes from China when Yidi, the god of wine and alcohol, created the beverage as a gift for the Emperor. Meanwhile, across the Eurasia landmass, Greek and Roman mythology have their own versions detailing the discovery of wine. These stories tend to surround the legend of the Greek and Roman gods, which have some interesting biographies, to say the least. Let’s dig deeper into the life stories of these gods and goddesses and find out what they have contributed to the lore of wine. 

Gods and Goddesses of Wine

Dionysus

Dionysus (Greece)

If there’s any god out there with an interesting story, it’s certainly Dionysus. He is the Greek god of wine, fertility, grape harvest, winemaking, and ecstasy. Although he is one of the gods that sits at Mount Olympus, Dionysus is not fully divine. He is a demigod, as he is the son of Zeus and the mortal Semele. 

Dionysus is said to have spread viticulture throughout Asia to teach mortals the art and science behind winemaking. He did this after his lover, Ampelo, died, and a vine branch grew from his body. Dionysus squeezed the grapes that grew from this vine, creating wine. To this day, Ampelography is the name of the study of varieties and characteristics of vines. 

Demeter

Demeter (Greece)

The goddess counterpart of Dionysus, Demeter is the goddess of the harvest, so she has a direct hand in the harvest of grapes, and thus the creation of wine. It’s safe to say that she has an important role in the lifecycle of wine!

Varuni

Varuni (Hinduism)

Varuni is the Hindu goddess of wine and winning ways. While there is not much known about her, writings that have been found say that she would seduce people and make them obsessed with her. How would she do this, you ask? She would use wine, of course!

Liber / Bacchus

Liber / Bacchus (Rome)

Liber is a Roman god based on the Greek god Dionysus. He is better known as Bacchus, which is a name that he gained after becoming infamous. Bacchus promoted the freedom to drink and do whatever one pleases, and he did so while being drunk himself. If you’re feeling festive, there is a day of celebration on March 17th called Liberalia that is dedicated to our friend Bacchus. 

Sesmu

Sesmu (Egypt)

Sesmu is the Egyptian god of pressing oils and wine. He is responsible for providing people with perfume and oils for embalming practices, and he is also connected to the Egyptian drink Shedeh. 

Acan

Acan (Mayan, Mesoamerica)

Turning our sights to Mesoamerica, let’s now introduce you to Acan, the Mayan god of mead (or honey wine). It is said that Mayan warriors used to drink mead before going into battle. Acan was responsible for Balché, or a honey-based cocktail that later became the inspiration for mead. Acan was known to make a fool of himself while drunk on the sweet beverage that he created. 

Yidi

Yidi (China)

Remember our friend Yidi that we mentioned earlier? It’s time to tell his story! Chinese legend says that Yidi, the god of wine and alcohol, helped the Emperor's daughter to make a special gift for her father. Yidi created a spicy, strong beverage from fermented grapes – wine. At first, the Emperor thought that the drink was much too powerful and strong, so Yidi spent years experimenting until he created something delicious, which is the wine that we know and love today. 

Wine in Religious Practices

Wine truly is a beverage of the gods, as many of the major world religions mention it in religious texts. 

Wine Use in Religious Practice

Judaism

Wine is an important addition to Passover in the Jewish faith. During Passover Seder, it is customary to drink 4 cups of wine while leaning to the left. Wine is a royal drink, and it symbolizes freedom. The number 4 is one that is seen as a recurring theme throughout Jewish religious texts.  

Christianity

There are several sections of the Christian Bible that reference wine. In the story of Noah and the ark, Noah planted a vineyard after the great flood. In these texts, wine is often seen as a gift from God, and an abundance of wine is a sign of blessing. Additionally, wine was used as a symbol of the blood of Christ during Eucharist – or the Last Supper. In modern Christian traditions, wine is used during communion to also symbolize the blood of Christ in reference to the Last Supper.

Egypt

If you paid attention during history class in school, you may recall that Egyptians were known for preserving their dead through the process of mummification. During this process, they also wanted to properly equip a body for the afterlife with things that they would need, and wine was on that list. King Tutankhamun, better known as King Tut, was buried with red wine so that he would be prepared for the afterlife. 

There’s no doubt about it, wine is legendary – literally. This beverage of gods has stood the test of time, found its way into cultures around the world, and into the glasses of millions of wine lovers. The next time you pour yourself a glass of wine, you can appreciate the vast range of stories and thousands of years of lore behind this world-renowned beverage. It is definitely a drink that’s worth celebrating! Cheers!

Rosé of Sangiovese

Andiamo

Sangiovese can be found in both the Chianti and Montalcino regions of Tuscany (it all sounds so romantic, right?) and is known for producing classic medium-bodied wines. Rosé wine is actually made from red grapes, and this is where the Rosé of Sangiovese comes to play. Crisp, fruit-forward, and easy-to-drink, it's everything you want in your bottle of Rosé and more.

$19.99

Montepulciano

Andiamo

Big, bold, and full of flavor—exactly what you’d expect an Italian wine to be! This classic Italian grape produces some of Italy’s most straightforward red wines and is often used as a blending grape. Not here, though. We let Montepulciano do the heavy lifting as a heavy red wine and shine on its own. If you enjoy the smell of leather bound books, nibbling on dried fruit, and complementary notes of bitter, dark chocolate and sweet plums, you will love this Italian wine. No need to pair it with any certain dish—Montepulciano tastes great with all the Italian classics.

$20.99

Pinot Grigio

La Pluma

If you’re looking for more zest in your life, a bottle of Pinot Grigio can provide that. We included a classic Pinot Grigio in the La Pluma collection because we’re all about light and easy here, which is exactly what this grape from Italy is. It has that dry sense of humor that seems so effortless with a punchy acidity to keep you on your toes, all while offering notes of lemon, limes, green apples, and honeysuckle. Long story short; when it’s been a heavy day and your soul is seeking light things only, you’ll be happy to have this bottle on hand.

$19.99

Pinot Noir

Unprecedented

We couldn’t create the In Good Taste Unprecedented collection without the Golden Retriever of wines: Pinot Noir. Pinot is likable, it’s easy, and its natural state of being is simply charming. It’s an incredibly easy red wine to love, which is why so many people do. The grape itself is from the Burgundy region of France, but has made its way to California, Oregon, Australia, Italy, Argentina, and Germany since. Our Pinot Noir has no surprise twists—it’s a classic light red with just the right amount of sweetness to keep you coming back for another glass (or two).

$25.99

Coteaux Bourguignons

Passport

The Burgundy region of France is home to their best Pinot Noirs, but we took the grapes into our own hands to create something extra special with our Coteaux Bourguignons. It’s a blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay, which results in a French red that’s light in body but full in flavor. The ripest blueberries and freshest herbs can be easily detected in this French burgundy blend. May we suggest pairing it with some creamy brie and freshly baked bread? It’s a oui-ning combo.

$25.99

Verdicchio

Andiamo

A little sweet. A little tart. A little salty? You truly get it all with this white Italian wine. If you're into that biting acidity, Verdicchio will probably be high on your list of most-loved wines from our Andiamo collection. Citrus fruits like mandarin, lemon, and grapefruit are at the forefront, but what really sets this Italian wine apart is its distinct notes of almond. While our Verdicchio can start out tasting a bit tart, the more you sip, the smoother it becomes. In fact, we suggest approaching it as an aperitif (Italian for an alcoholic drink sipped before a meal to stimulate the appetite) to experience its full effect.

$23.99

Côtes du Rhône White

Passport

This was one of our first French wines to join the Passport collection and one sip will explain why. Some background on the Rhône Valley in France: While this region is known for its dark, juicy reds, a very small amount of special white wines are made in the Rhône Valley. Our Côtes du Rhône is packed with French-perfected, floral flavor and Old-World charm. Its natural tang paired with the weighty Marsanne grape and aromatic Roussanne grape results in a crisp, savory sip that’ll transport you to a sunbathing chair by the Rhône itself.

$23.99

Bordeaux Rouge

Passport

When you picture medieval folk sitting around a feast with goblets of wine, chances are they were drinking Bordeaux. This wine has been made in France since forever and is arguably the most classic French wine out there. Bordeaux is known for its full body, smoky notes, and rich, oaky taste. If you love cabs, chances are you will adore Bordeaux. For our Passport wines, we had to include this classic French red for you to sip and enjoy to your heart’s content. Best savored over a rich meal like lamb ragu, ratatouille, or BBQ.

$21.99

Ventoux Rosé

Passport

You probably know that the Tour de France is held on Ventoux Mountain in France, but did you know that the same area is known for its high-altitude rosé? This is the kind of quintessential French rosé that you don’t need to spin your wheels over—it’s simply delicious, crisp, and perfect for warm weather. Despite its delicate, pale pink color, each sip is lush with flavor, from tropical passionfruit and zesty citrus to refreshing melon. This has the potential to be your new summer go-to, so we’d suggest stocking up.

$21.99

Grenache

La Pluma

We knew the only red in the La Pluma collection had to be exceptionally good and exceptionally light. That’s why including a Grenache was a no-brainer. If smooth, fruit-forward, light-bodied reds appeal to your tastebuds, this could be your new favorite. The grape itself is tricky; depending on the climate of where its grown, Grenache wines could be light, dense, or somewhere in the middle. La Pluma’s version has all the airiness and flavor notes we wanted in our Grenache, which is how we know you’ll love it. Get the most of this red by pairing it with roasted meats, spice-heavy vegetables, and Mexican-inspired dishes with lots of cumin.

$27.99

Barbera

Andiamo

We really try not to play favorites at In Good Taste, but there is just something about an Italian Barbera that hits different in the best way. Barberas are the perfect wine for pizza night; they're low in alcohol, and medium-bodied but taste super light, and their berry and plum flavors pair incredibly well with savory tomato sauce and cheese! Another fun thing about Barberas? They actually taste great when chilled, which is not something we're in the habit of suggesting for our red wines. Our Italian Barbera lies somewhere between the body of a cab and a pinot and is the ideal choice for a "ladies who lunch" kind of afternoon.

$21.99

Vermentino

Wild Child

We couldn't not have a weird white in the mix, right?! The Vermentino grape is native along the coast of Italy on the island of Sardinia (yeah, like the fish). Because of its origin, this grape offers a salty, crisp flavor that's incredibly easy to drink and enjoy. We say it's "weird" only because it's not widely known by name, but chances are you've probably had it before if you've ever ordered white wine in an Italian restaurant. If you love peaches and lemons and get a kick out of anything that reminds you of the sea, our Vermentino is the perfect Italian white to experience on a sunny day outside.

$23.99

Viognier

Unprecedented

For the Chardonnay lovers who are looking to dig a bit deeper in the world of bold whites, a Viognier (pronounced vee-own-yay) could be your next big adventure. Viogniers tend to have more range; while they can be creamy with hints of vanilla like their Chardonnay counterpart, they also offer lighter, fruitier flavors like tangerine, mango, and honeysuckle. It’s still a more full-bodied white wine, but unlike Chardonnay, it’s softer on acidity and more perfumed. Spend an afternoon with a glass of Viognier amongst the flowers and it’ll all make sense.

$24.99

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