With wine making
tradition dating back 5,000 years the Phoenicians, the ancient dwellers of
Lebanon, were tending vineyards, making wine and trading with other major
cities long before the Greeks and Romans. And it was here that later Jesus
changed water into wine, performing his first miracle at the wedding of Cana.
The term wine, or
Cherem in Phoenician, is derived from a Phoenician word referring
specifically to the fermentation of grapes. Wines were a specialty of the
Phoenicians and their ancient Ugaritic poetry and epics mentioned wine with
ringing praise. The Rapiuma and others were specific in identifying the
choice wine of Lebanon as being one nurtured by their god El and fit for
gods and kings. They must have learned about wine from earlier
civilizations; however, they perfected viticulture and oenology so that
Phoenician wines became prized commodities of the ancient world and a major
source of revenue in their exports.
Canaanites were avid wine drinkers. The Bible mentions that the Phoenician
Canaanite Melchizedek, King of Salem (King of Jerusalem) and Priest of the
Most High God (El Elion), offered bread and wine to Abraham and Ezekiel
refers to the wine of Helbon as a unique commodity. Some believe that the
village of Qana (Cana) where Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding
feast was a town near Tyre, Phoenicia and not elsewhere. Also, wine was
central to the Passover observance among the Jews and continues to be so. It
was served for the Passover of the Last Supper betwixt Jesus and his
disciples and continues to be central to Christian Eucharistic liturgy of
Some of the icons of
Phoenician philosophy, Zeno of Citium and Chrysippus of Soli, Phoenician
co-founder of the Stoic School of Philosophy were "serious" wine drinkers.
The former's main enjoyment was sitting in the sun, eating figs and drinking
wine while the latter is said to have died as a result of drinking too much
over proof wine.