Wine Rituals – one of my all time favorites

One of my favorite rituals, and one I consider to be a classic is one involving wine. There are many good reasons to love it. As Thomas Jefferson once wrote: Good wine is a necessity of life for me. And good old Ben Franklin wrote: Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance.

Photo: Rhinehart Photography

If you enjoy wine, sharing wine as a symbol of unity in your wedding ceremony could be perfect. Love of wine alone is a good enough reason to incorporate this, but there are many more levels of meaning that can be folded into this act. Culture, history, religion and even science all play a part.

There really is so much to say about wine! We find references to wine in the Bible, and Noah, you may recall, planted a vineyard as soon as the flood receded. Wise man! Psalms refers to wine saying it ‘gladdens the heart’, but most profoundly wine is the very the presence of the Divine Spirit on earth through the Holy Eucharist.

Photo: Melissa Kelly

Wine is also part of Jewish tradition and ritual. So whether it is Shabbat or Communion, wine is certainly a strong spiritual symbol, a symbol of the earth’s bounty, a symbol of prosperity and joy, an affirmation of life. This makes it a wonderful ritual for interfaith couples.

You can easily tie in countries or places of origin; for example, for families with French or Italian heritage, why not mention how fine wines have been made in those regions for hundreds of years, or for Californians or upstate New Yorkers where there are wine regions as well. Even here in Poconos we have lots of wineries, and when I officiate at many of them I’ll always suggest a wine sharing ritual – its just such a natural thing to do.

If religion or culture doesn’t resonate, remember science, too, plays a part. After all chemistry is involved in making wine as it is in love. It takes a unique and complex mixture to create the right results. A poet once said ‘The whole universe is in a glass of wine.’ Perhaps this means that in wine we see a microcosm, in that all life is like fermentation because it is based on interaction.

Photo: Garth Woods

Among the many ancient stories – one legend I love to tell comes from Persia, and says that wine was invented when a woman, plagued by a headache, drank fermented juice from a jar of grapes. After drinking it, she became relaxed and at ease, eventually falling asleep and woke up cured.

Greek Mythology, however, says that wine was invented by Dionysus, who was appropriately named the God of Wine, Intoxication, and Fertility. I think we can assume that probably explains the Greek’s booming population at that time.

So while the Persians and Greeks disagree on who invented wine, chances are they both were happy that it was invented by someone! And so are we.

So share the cup of wine, representing the cup of life, as a meaningful wedding ritual. And with it you share all the future holds for you, both sweet and bitter, because wine and marriage, are complex. As Pliny The Elder [A.D.23-79] wrote: In wine there is truth.



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