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Divine Vintage: Following the Wine Trail from Genesis to the Modern Age Hardcover – November 13, 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Comes alive detailing the wine regions of Turkey, Jordan, Israel. It's a fine reminder that wine has endured in [the Middle East].” ―The San Francisco Chronicle

“The interplay of wine with the rise of civilization and humankind's evolving spiritual life is fascinating.” ―The Toronto Star

“A wonderfully researched book.” ―The San Francisco Chronicle

“Titillating... Surprises for wine lovers.” ―The Washington Post

“[The authors] meld history with exegesis to trace the origins of wine [and] skillfully enliven daily life in the distant past, whether detailing amphoras or wine gods--a worthy complement to literature on agriculture in antiquity.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“Fascinating…[The authors] decode hieroglyphics and biblical scholarship and explore ancient wine culture both medical and magical along with aspects directly related to trade and religion…The book's latter half examines the current state of winemaking in those same, ancient and much-beleaguered regions today, providing tasting notes for such exotic bottlings as Turkish Fumé Blanc and Jordanian Viognier along with established producers like Lebanon's Chateau Musar before turning to the not-entirely-ironic question: what would Jesus drink?” ―Publishers Weekly

“This might well be the best new wine book of the year. It is not about the 'New World' or 'Old World' but the 'Ancient World'. It delves into the area where wine culture was born and examines the recent quality revival in the historic but newly dynamic wine region of the Eastern Mediterranean. Thoroughly recommended.” ―Adam Montefiore, contributor to The Jerusalem Post and Wine Development Director for Carmel Winery

“If the Bible is the greatest story ever told, then Divine Vintage may be the greatest wine story ever told. It's absolutely brimful of incredible stories and biblical connections.” ―Doug Frost, master sommelier, master of wine, and author of On Wine

“Have you ever wondered why wine is so central to our western religions and culture? Why Noah is portrayed as the ‘first vigneron?' Why Jesus' first miracle was to convert water into a fine wine? Beyond delving into the literary and archaeological record, this book entices us to re-examine our heritage with a modern liquid time-capsule in hand. These are wines still made from ancient cultivars according to ancient methods in the countries where viniculture began.” ―Patrick McGovern, author of Ancient Wine and Uncorking the Past

“Butler and Heskett have not only provided solid scholarship in this fresh approach to the Bible, but they exhibit a level of a wine knowledge far surpassing that of biblical experts. Divine Vintage illuminates the social and spiritual roles of one of the world's oldest beverages in a way that will captivate both scholars and laypersons.” ―Peter Enns, author of The Evolution of Adam and Inspiration and Incarnation

Divine Vintage is a one-of-a-kind wine book. It offers not only a fascinating account of wine's origins but also a truly authoritative guide to today's wines that are made in the ancient lands where wine was born.” ―Mary Ewing-Mulligan MW, co-author of Wine for Dummies

“Randall Heskett and Joel Butler give a new flavor to reading the Bible, as well as intriguing commentary on the role of wine in social, economic, family, and spiritual life. Full to the brim with fascinating details that will captivate even the most educated oenophile, and all made spicy with wit and fun. Questions like "which wines would Jesus drink?" keep this book from ever becoming dry.” ―L. Ann Jervis, professor of New Testament, Wycliffe College

About the Author

Joel Butler is one of the first two resident Masters of Wine (MW)® in the North America. He holds degrees in history from Stanford University and the University of Colorado, and is currently the president of the Institute of Masters of Wine, North America, Ltd. Butler has been a highly regarded wine judge for decades, most recently as a Senior Judge at the International Wine Challenge, and Decanter World Wine Awards in London. Butler has written on wine for International Wine Cellar, The Sunday Times, The Independent, The I-Wine Review and numerous other wine publications. He is an award-winning home winemaker and wine educator to trade and consumers, and has been a wine buyer for restaurants, retail, and distribution Butler lives in Seattle, Washington, where he is the co-owner of WineKnow LLC.

Dr. Randall Heskett is a biblical scholar with advance degrees in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible from Yale University and the University of Toronto. He has taught at the University of Toronto, Queen's University, and Denver Seminary, among others. His great interest in wine also has led him to work in retail wine stores and as a wine importer. He has written several books and articles, his most recent being Reading the Book of Isaiah: Destruction and Lament in the Holy Cities. Dr. Heskett is President of Boulder University and lives outside of Boulder, Colorado.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (November 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230112439
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230112438
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,210,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
A well-written and important book to read because it is one of the first to describe what wines were drunk in Biblical times, how they were made, what styles were important, and the real social and spiritual significance of wine to the people of this era. Well worth the read.

Chapter one, "The Origins of Wine: How Wine Infiltrated the Biblical World" really shows how wine was discovered because of its intoxicating effect and how the grape was domesticated. Heskett-Butler go to great lengths to describe Noah as the first wine maker and why this biblical portrait is not only important as a metaphor to trace the vine as a hallmark of civilization but they even present how modern archaeology shows that the first wineries were set near where Noah's ark would have landed. Chapter Two "From Mesopotamia to Israel: Abraham, Wine, Salt, and Sex" explains the impact of wine with Abram and Melchizedek. Chapter Three, "Joseph and the Cupbearer" really grounds the book in the biblical covenant and Yahweh's promise. Chapter Four, "Wine Under Siege: Biblical Wars on Wine" shows just how important wine was to ancient Israel that people would fight over it, while Chapter Five, "How the West Was Wined", describes the development of wine in the Bible. In Chapter Six, "The Roman Wine Empire and the New Testament," some theological bearing on Christian theology and the Eucharist is presented, even though this is not Heskett-Butler's main purpose in this text. In chapters Seven-Eleven, Heskett-Butler provide a unique and inclusive examination of the modern wines from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Israel, and Greece, beautifully depicting stories and the wines, such that the reader is taken into those venues with a glass of wine in his/her hand. Finally, in Chapter Twelve, Heskett-Butler respectfully describe what kinds of wines Jesus would drink.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is not a religious book but a cultural examination of how wine has figured in history and how bible stories from Noah's vineyard to Jesus' changing water into wine reflected the evolution of human understanding of wine and spirituality.

The first six chapters examine wine as presented in bible verses and other ancient texts in the context of modern understanding of climate, wine making, history and archaeology. The second half of the book turns to the authors' wine travels through the countries described in the Bible and other texts of the Ancient Near East: Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey and Greece, discovering what the wines of those regions are like today and estimating what the wines of ancient times might have been like.

It's a fascinating book for any wine lover, history buff or spiritually inclined person, and you don't have to be a seminarian or church-goer to enjoy it. It's highly accessible and of interest to anyone who seeks a literate romp through the history of ancient wine.
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Format: Hardcover
If it weren't for its unique vision, this book would be a real disappointment.

This book caught my eye because I'd been struck by the idea of wines made in the Cradle of Civilization ever since I'd heard that the shiraz grape is said to come from Shiraz, Iran (a myth, by the way, according to the authors). The idea appeals to both the novice historian and the wine drinker in me because such wines seem so, shall I say, authentic, and I'd hoped to learn more about them.

But the text is dry and disjointed, providing little in the way of narrative structure. It's not organized chronologically, but rather regionally which makes it hard to follow some of the discussion about the origins of winemaking (a timeline would have helped).

Also, the book appears to have been rushed into production. I found several typos, and some passages are repetitious, almost to the word--something I would think the editor should have caught. For instance, they define "terra rossa" several times, as if the reader wouldn't understand the first time.

In addition, some terms that I've never heard before (such as "raisin wine," "Pramnian wine," and "terebinth tree"), the authors never define or do so only late in the book. Other terms that would be obvious to any casual historian or wine drinker, the authors insist on defining them, sometimes more than once. A glossary would have helped.

There are some factual errors and omissions. Never, for example, do they mention that winemaking techniques may have been developed as a means to preserve the harvest for future consumption. In a time with no refrigeration, letting the fruit ferment would have been a way to prevent spoilage. [See my correction regarding hyenas in the comments below.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an essential book for any wine or ancient history buff.
It is totally unique and fresh in its coverage of the beginnings of wine in the Middle East, (or as the author says Eastern Mediteranean). New information on wine traditions and wine trade in the Roman empire. The statistics on wine production and consumption in Ancient Rome are quite mind blowing. Provides incredible insight into the importance of wine in both the old and new testaments. The Bible is full of enology and viticulture technology,, which is rarely recognized! I really enjoyed his part 2 of the book , THE MODERN DIVINE WINE TRAIL. The author is a Master of Wine, the highest possible level of wine knowledge and he shares his first hand accounts of travel and tasting of the wines of Lebanon, Israel, Greece and Turkey. I visited Turkish wineres a few years ago and was impressed with both the technology and the end product. Quite surprising in a predominently Muslim country where wine is supposedly forbidden. You will have to read the book to learn about the ancient Muslim wine making and wine drinking sects. This is only one example of fresh and fascinating information on wines from this part of the world, based on his first hand travels and research.
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