Symbolism of The Wine

In the first part of this treatise I suggested that there should be people throughout the fellowships engaged in making the Sacramental Wine, and gave a couple of recipes for beginners. I believe that this emblem of the Sacrament is so symbolic of the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ’s sacrifice that I would like to attempt to lay out some of the facets of the making, and compare them to that sacrifice.

As I turn this over in my mind it almost seems like a diamond with its many facets that when turned slowly radiates streamers in a spectrum of light – none ever the same, and oh! so many.

Given that the Atonement is eternal and the thoughts of my mind so finite, there will always be something else which can be added to these words. But to get those creative juices flowing, the following is what strikes me at this moment.

Harvest – The picking of the grapes usually coincides closely with the Autumnal Equinox – that pillar of the earth when light and darkness come into balance, and immediately afterward darkness begins to exceed the light. This is when the sugar in the grapes reaches its peak, and the juice is at its greatest content. This is when the terroir of the soil, and the weather, and the plant itself have completed the pouring of their strength into the manufacture of the fruit of the vine. This is perhaps representative of the Lord being sacrificed at the peak of His life, at the apex of His powers, at the highest and sweetest point of His love for His Father and His children.

De-stemming & crushingThis is when the fruit is fully separated from the last vestiges of the vine. The grapes in times past were put into a large vat and then crushed by treading underfoot. This released the blood of the grape so it could run freely. It is the process where the skin and seeds begin to separate from the inner body of the grape so it can begin the breaking down process to become something completely different. Anyone involved in this process gets his hands, arms and legs and the hem of their garments stained a deep reddish color. The Lord has let us know that it was He that trod the wine press alone. His return will be in red robes.

Pressing – After the grapes are crushed, the skins and seeds are left for a time in the juice to impart color, tannins and acids which are necessary in a good wine to impart correct taste, mouthfeel, and aroma. At a certain point it is necessary to remove the skins and seeds and press out all the remaining juice. The press I use is very simple and illustratively very symbolic. A piece of nylon window screen laid over the open mouth of a bucket receives the juice with skins, and seeds, all together. At first the dark red juice runs freely through the screen as it holds back the skins and seeds. eventually the remaining juice no longer runs freely, but must be pressed out of the skins. Gathering the edges of the screen and twisting them entraps the seeds and skins and begins the pressing out of the remaining blood of the grapes. The more you twist, the tighter the bag presses the grapes. At first the juice runs freely again, but as the press gets tighter and tighter the skins press against the pores of the screen and you begin to see the phenomena of the screen bleeding at every pore.

Fermenting – An older dictionary I have gives as part of its definition of the word ferment, “to agitate or to excite, to effervesce.” With the introduction of yeast into the juice, the juice begins to ferment. It actually becomes a different product from the benign, sweet juice from which it started. As the yeast finds itself in a sugar rich environment it begins to grow and multiply exceedingly fast as it essentially eats the sugar. In the process it gives off carbon dioxide, and turns the sugar to alcohol. When the sugar is all converted you now have a beverage of which a significant portion is alcohol. As the process of fermenting changed the juice to wine, so the alcohol, when consumed in the Sacrament, changes the nature of the individual, indicative in my mind of how the Atonement should change the nature of the individual also.

Racking – is an ancient term for the venerable step of removing the wine from the lees. A few weeks – possibly a couple of months after the finish of the fermentation, the wine has gone fairly inactive. The dead yeast and other solids have begun to settle out of the liquid and pile up at the bottom of the bottle. This stuff may not be evidently active, but in fact the dead yeasts and other things are slowly beginning to break down. Like fallen leaves in a forest they are beginning to decay, possibly adding funky flavors to your wine. The wine needs to periodically be taken off the lees so it becomes clear and tastes clean. This taking the wine off the lees, and putting it into a fresh clean bottle is called racking, and is done by siphoning. For our illustration here we will call upon the scriptures:

Zephaniah 1: 12; “And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: That say in their heart, The Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil. Therefore their goods shall become a booty and their houses a desolation.”

And even closer to home we get D&C 58: 6-8. “ Behold verily I say unto you, for this cause I have sent you – that you might be obedient, and that your hearts might be prepared to bear testimony of the things which are to come. And also that you might be honored in laying the foundation, and in bearing record of the land upon which the Zion of God shall stand; And that a feast of fat things might be prepared for the poor: yea a feast of fat things, of wine on the lees well refined, that the earth may know that the mouths of the prophets shall not fail.”

Well this is enough to show that makers of the wine experience a new level of the symbolism of the wine. This is by no means exhaustive, or even inclusive of all the things that could be said about the wine. Those that embark upon this adventure will see things, and make connections that will be amazing!

We need to have makers all throughout these fellowships that know these things and can bear testimony – not only through the product they lovingly produce, but also how it symbolically represents the atoning sacrifice and mission of our Savior, Jesus Christ, to save as many of His Father’s children as possible.

Then In Zion there will be many who can add to the mowing of lawns, working in the bakery, and picking the fruit of the orchards; the making of the wine that will be used in sacred Sacraments, and perhaps also in that most holy Sacral Meal where Christ will sit with us and partake.

Keith Henderson

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