The rich tradition of Jordanian wine (possibly poured at the Last Supper)

June 4, 2024

Hospitality, a cornerstone of biblical values, is almost synonymous with the sharing of wine. In the Mediterranean, wine has always been a common drink –but also much more than that. Since Early Antiquity, wine is considered a symbol of abundance, a vehicle for friendship, and a fundamental welcoming gesture.

In Jordan, history meets the vine in exceptional, perhaps unexpected ways. While the tradition of hospitality and wine is well-known throughout the region, Jordan stands out as a main character in this timeless story. Here lies a flourishing wine industry boasting a lineage as remarkable as its wines themselves.

Jordan’s connection to winemaking stretches back centuries, reaching all the way to the impressively innovative Nabataean era. Archaeological excavations in the vicinity of Petra, the renowned rose-red city, have uncovered a network of industrial-scale wine presses, providing evidence of the long-standing tradition of viticulture in Jordan. Some scholars have even postulated that the wine served at the Last Supper may have originated from this region, specifically from Umm Qais, in northern Jordan.


A Modern Legacy: Exceptional Wines from Unique Soil

The veracity of the Last Supper theory aside, Jordan’s modern wine industry is a testament to the enduring legacy of viticulture in the region. The secret lies in the rich tapestry of Jordanian soil. Mafraq, in northern Jordan, where the country’s two main wineries (Zumot and Haddad) cultivate their grapes, offers a unique combination of high elevation, cool temperatures, and basalt-rich soil.  This specific blend of elements nourishes the vines, imparting the grapes with a depth of character that translates into exceptional wines.


Award-Winning Excellence

These exceptional local wines are surely a pleasant surprise for most travelers. Despite being a relatively recent entrant on the global stage, Jordanian wines have garnered international acclaim. The labels of Zumot’s “Saint George” and Haddad’s “Jordan River” have consistently impressed critics and won numerous international awards. This recognition serves to illustrate the dedication to quality and the distinctive potential of Jordanian soil.

So, on the next occasion you uncork a bottle of wine, make sure it is Jordanian. It will undoubtedly take you and those you share it with on a journey through time, hospitality, and exceptional flavor –and possibly even a taste of the Last Supper itself.

By Daniel Esparza
Daniel Esparza

Daniel Esparza is currently an associate professor of communication ethics and aesthetics at the Ramon Llull University in Barcelona. He holds a PhD in Religion from Columbia University (NYC). He is also an art historian who has developed communicational projects and campaigns for online and print media to promote the cultural and religious heritage of the Americas and the Mediterranean. He is a founding member of Viator Media and the Pilgrimaps project.

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