Wine and the Holy Spirit

Most biblical scholars agree that wine is representative of the Holy Spirit or the blessing of God in the Bible. Perhaps this means that a little understanding of wine will give us a little more understanding of God.

A wine connoisseur is one who understands the flavors, subtleties, and distinctions of wines. The connoisseur is one who can tell the difference between “a wine (or coffee, or cheese, or piece of art) I like” and “a wine (or coffee, or cheese, or piece of art) that is good.” Connoisseurship allows me to recognize that even though this may be a flavor to which I am not accustomed, it is still beautifully complex. Even though I am not comfortable with this, it is not something I would drink at home, it is still a brilliant balance of fruit and acidity.

Complexity is a mystery to most of us. Matt Kramer in his book Making Sense of Wine descibes it this way: “The more times you can return to a glass of wine and find something different in it–in the bouquet, in the taste–the more complex the wine. The very greatest wines are not so much overpowering as they are seemingly limitless”

Complexity is not simply a jumble of flavors. If this were the case, I could simply combine all the contents of my pantry in a blender and produce a complex drink. Complexity should surprise us with each sip as new flavors are revealed, but then we should also see how these new flavors fit into the entirety of the wine. There is some kind of incredibly complex pattern being revealed with each taste. A wine that is too predictable is not sufficiently complex. Likewise, a wine that is muddled may contain a lot of flavors, but is not truly complex.

“Balance” is a term that refers to a wine’s balance of fruitiness and acidity. The goal of the vintner (wine maker) is to have the two characteristics compliment each other perfectly. A wine that is too fruity (or sometimes sweet) is usually referred to as “flabby.” Wine newbies may prefer a flabby wine as it may be sweeter and more characteristic of juice. We often prefer what is familiar. The problem is that a wine that lacks acidity will lack brightness and liveliness. On the other hand, a wine that is too acidic can be tart and harsh like vinegar. A good wine should be neither too sweet nor too harsh.

Good wine is balanced, complex, and indeed limitless . . . like the Holy Spirit.

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