The great flood had ended and the water receded. The air was warm and dry and the temperature pleasant. Noah, tired yet fulfilled after day’s toil tending his crops and his vineyard sat happily under his fig tree surveying the scene of plenty around him.
The doves cooed and pranced and preened their feathers reddening in the sunset glow, the lion cub and the baby lamb, both born shortly after the arc came to rest on the grassy hillock at the end of the rainbow, curled up together for a night’s sleep. God smiled down on the survivors of his holocaust, the ones chosen to live, the righteous ones chosen to repopulate the failed world. He sent gentle zephyrs to cool them after the sweaty day and laid a blessing on the earth and all upon it.
In Noah’s hand he held his first vintage. He had found the vines which had been washed to this place by the flood all the way from the Garden of Eden. They had taken well to the soil of Erivan and produced a sweet juice from which he had produced an ambrosial liquor, fermenting and maturing it in earthenware jars buried deep in the soft soil to protect it from the sun and the changing temperature. When Noah first tasted the wine he said to himself that it was good and this reminded him that he owed it, and all that lay around him to the Eternal Being.
And so Noah took the wine to the altar on which he had made his ritual sacrifices on his disembarkation and dedicated it to the God of all men and all animals and all things. The God who had dispelled chaos and created light, and day, and all the wonders of the earth. God had created the vine and Noah had mixed his effort, his labour with this creation and surely this result was intended to be a libation for Him. Man’s travail and His creation.
Tired and thirsty from the day’s toils, Noah watched the gleaming liquid spread across the stone altar, trickle over the edge and sink into the surrounding soil and chthonic depths. The warm stone heated the juices and released an intoxicating cloud of aromatic ether into the air shimmering above the altar. God had shared his blessing. And that was even better!
Day by day the wine matured in the jars beneath the sandy soil, becoming stronger and stronger, more and more concentrate, richer in aroma. Day by day Noah joined God and the angels in enjoying the ether. And as the ether became stronger and stronger Noah began to wonder whether God wouldn’t share a little more with him that just the bouquet. After all, he was sharing the overflow with the earth. God had made the earth and had made him too, of the earth. Was he to be denied that which the earth had been allowed?
And so the first sip.
And so the second sip.
And so the first gulp.
And Noah was discovered inebriated and in a wanton position by his sons and was punished therefore. God had shown how great joy may lead to great sorrow.
And from that day onwards man has diligently cultivated the vine and fermented and matured its juices. So great a gift from god to man was wine that over the ages man appropriated it as if it were he who had created it and he offered it as his gift to god, in his omnipotence forgetting its origin whilst remembering its divinity.
Years later the descendants of Noah, under their King, Solomon the wise, built a temple to their god on the heights of Jerusalem. A building reaching at its peak 20 stories high and nearly twice as broad and four times in length. The building housed the Arc of the Covenant, a different arc this time housing not the beasts and birds of the world but the moral principles, the Ten Commandments.
Next to this arc Solomon built his own altar and on this altar too sacrifices were made to the divinity and again libations of wine were poured onto the altar, now by a multitude of priests and with great ceremony.
Beneath the altar were said to be channels leading to the centre of the earth, to the molten core of the planet, to the deepest recesses of life’s habitat, to that about which mankind’s entire sphere depends, to the essence of the sphere’s existence. It was into these channels that the wine libations flowed. It must have been there that their god filled his passion and fuelled our existence. Many divine parables and myths have grown around these god-created, hidden channels down which the wine was said to trickle like wine flowing down a woman’s hidden thighs.
Would it surprise then that many of the imaginings of the priests who poured the wine upon the altar, perhaps tasting a bit now and then to the greater glory of its creator, might become ecstatic, sensual and even erotic in nature? It would not surprise King Solomon who sagely warned those who imbibed too freely “Your eyes will see strange women, and your heart will speak confusedly.”
And perhaps these wise men did imbibe too freely as over a thousand years later they still extolled and discussed the exceptional beauty of these divine channels down which the wine flowed comparing them to the rounded thighs of King Solomon’s beloved of whom he wrote his Song of Songs. And over a thousand years ago it was that King Solomon gazed upon his love and wrote: “Thy navel is like a round goblet wherein no mingled wine is wanting” whilst “the roof of thy mouth (is) like the best wine that glideth down smoothly”.
Are these the visions of the heady effects of the wine, are they the images of love or are they a description of the ethereal qualities of wine which embody the deepest and most secret emotions and imagery of man as they are unlocked by the aromatic vapours?
Do these visions describe the course of the wine we drink as it passes from our lips to our inner core? Does wine reveal to each of us our own secret of life? Our own lives’ secrets?
When next you hold a drop of wine on your tongue imagine Noah’s vineyard and his ecstasy. Gaze upon your round goblet and imagine the refulgent promise therein. Sense the libation penetrating your soul as it did the earth below Solomon’s altar, feel it glide smoothly down the channels of your own being and flow beautifully to your own depths. Let your thoughts take you into to your most intimate places. Let the essence of the wine evoke your own essence.