Was the Wine From the Bible the Same as Today?

Was wine in the Bible alcoholic? What is the difference between Biblical and modern wine?

Marie-Claire De Villiers
By Marie-Claire De Villiers
Edited by Romi Hector

Published March 25, 2022.

At the time that Jesus walked the earth, wine was made using a much simpler process than that of today. In our modern world, extensive and rigorous procedures create one of our favorite drinks using sugar, chemicals, and other additives. But how different is it from the Bible's wine?

Was There Alcohol in Biblical Wine?

Using sulfur dioxide, Saccharomyces (a cultured GMO yeast), and late-harvest grapes that hold a higher sugar level, we are able to produce an alcohol level of 12–20%. The main ingredient making the difference is modernized yeast.

In ancient times, more natural yeast could only create levels of around 4– 11%.

Because there were no fridges in Biblical times, the focus was more on preventing fermentation. The various processes used to keep food and drink fresh resulted in lower alcohol levels too.

Some of the methods included turning the juice to syrup to be diluted later, boiling and then immediately sealing with beeswax in airtight containers, and drying and then reconstituting the fruit.

What Was Wine Like in Biblical Times?

Wine made in biblical times underwent a much simpler process: grown and produced naturally without additives, chemical processing, or anything being added or removed. It would have tasted quite different from the wine we enjoy today – perhaps more like grape juice. At the time of writing this article, there are only a handful of wineries that produce anything similar to what Jesus would have drank, as numerous careful conditions and standards would need to be upheld that mimic those of thousands of years ago.

Our findings can help to explain why Jesus refused to drink wine during his crucifixion.

Looking for a wonderful wine experience in the Holy Land? Have a look at our round-up of top Israeli wineries.