A Typology of Wine

Taken from Hart’s Beauty of the Infinite, 108.  Not only is this an excellent manifesto for the godly enjoyment of wine, it is also a subtle critique upon Greek ontology (as it is embedded in a specific mythology).

The wine of Dionysius is no doubt of the coarsest vintage, intended to blind with drunkenness rather than enliven with whimsy; it is fruit of the same vine with which Dionysius bridged the Euphrates, after flaying alive the king of Damascus, so that he could conquer India for viniculture (so we know from Plutarch et al…); and of the same vine for which Lycurgus mistook his son Dryas when driven mad for offending the wild god, causing him to cut Dryas down for “pruning” (as Homer and Apollodorus report); the vine that destroyed the pirates who did not bear Dionysius to Naxos (again, Homer and Ovid); it is the wine that inflamed the maenads to rend Pentheus limb from limb, led by his own mother; the wine repeatedly associated with madness, slaughter, warfare, and rapine (one need only consider the Dionysian cult at Orchomenus with its ritual acts of frenzy, infanticide, cannibalism).

The wine of Christian scripture, on the other hand, is first and foremost a divine blessing and image of God’s bounty (Gen. 27:28; Dt 7:13…the texts are too numerous to count) and an appropriate thank offering by which to declare Israel’s love to God (Exodus 29:40 et al); it is the wine that cheers the hearts of gods and men (Judges 9:13), to be drunk and shared with those for whom nothing is prepared on the day holy to the Lord (Neh. 8:10), the sign of God’s renewed covenant with his people (Isaiah 55:1-3), the drink of lovers (Song 5:1), and the very symbol of love (7:2, 9; 8:2), whose absence is the eventide of all joy (Is. 24:11); it is, moreover, the wine of agape and the feast of fellowship, in which Christ first vouchsafed a sign of his divinity, in a place of rejoicing, at Cana–a wine of the highest quality–when the kingdom showed itself out of season; the wine, again, forsaken with all good things of creation, when Christ went to his death, but promised to be drunk anew at the banquet table of his father’s kingdom (Mark 15:23).

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One comment on “A Typology of Wine

  1. Andrew says:

    Roger Scruton’s book on wine is a fun read. The appendix on what to drink when reading different philosophers has some good laughs.

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