In the origin and evolution of wine history, mythology and legend get mixed up. For example in Egypt the god of wine was Osiris and, for the Sumerians, the goddess Gestin symbolized the “mother of vines”. For the Greeks, wine was a gift from Dionysus, who was called Bacchus by the Romans. In addition the bible states that Noah planted a vineyard after the flood.
According to Persian legend, in 4,000 BC, a bird dropped some seeds at the King’s feet. From the seeds grapes began to grow which were collected and stored in the royal deposit where, due to natural fermentation, they transformed into wine. The legend goes that one of the King’s wives tried to commit suicide by drinking this dark juice thinking it was poison. She was found dancing and singing happily, becoming the first person to get drunk on wine. The King named this drink “Darou é Shah”, which means “the King’s remedy”.
The king-god Osiris was, according to the Egyptian mythology, the one who taught mankind how to cultivate the vine, how to harvest and how to make wine from the grape juice. Also it is thought that it was his wife, Isis, goddess of agriculture, who was concerned about protecting and taking care of the process of winemaking in the first wineries.
However in Greek mythology, the god of wine is Dionysus, and it was thought that he discovered viticulture and spread it through many parts of Asia. Legend says that when Ampelo, Dionysus’ lover, died, a vine branch grew from his body. Dionysus squeezed a bunch of grapes from the vine producing a sweet juice which produced drunkenness: wine was born.
Perhaps Bacchus is the most well-known God of wine. According to Roman mythology, he transmitted his knowledge to humans on how to plant vines and make wine. When Bacchus taught men the art of viticulture, he used the story of the three bones to explain that if they drank moderately they would be happy, they would sing and enjoy life as birds. If they kept drinking more than they should, they would become lions and find trouble. If they drank even more wine, they would become donkeys, committing all sorts of stupidities.
In the Bible, wine is seen as a present from God, and its abundance is a sign of blessing. People themselves are the “vineyard of God”, an image that extends to the New Testament, and from there to our days.