If you’re like me, you may often have a transcendental experience when you have a deliciously smooth Red Blend or delightfully acidic Chardonnay in hand. It’s almost like you’re holding the elixir of the gods in your hands...The gods of myth may be known for drink ambrosia, but I assure you a well-known Greek god by the name of Dionysus was very familiar with the ambrosia of the 21st century – wine.
Who is Dionysus?
Dionysus is the Greek god of wine and fertility. In Roman culture he was known as Bacchus. Wine was a huge part of Greek culture, so Dionysus was popularly celebrated in Greek tradition. He is one of the gods sat upon Mount Olympus, although he was the last to arrive and was viewed as an outsider. This is because he was the son of Zeus and a mortal, making him a demigod, not a true god like the rest of the line-up.
However, it wouldn’t be Greek myth without an absurd twist.
When Zeus seduced and impregnated mortal Semele, a jealous Hera came down in a fit of rage and demanded that Zeus reveal his true form. As mortals cannot look upon a god’s true form, Semele died, pregnant with Dionysus. In order to save the unborn baby, Zeus removed him from Semele and stitched babe Dionysus into this thigh...the logical thing to do, right? Anyways, a few months later Dionysus is born and is sent to be raised in secret, out of Hera’s sight. Once he is grown, he learns to cultivate grape vines and, as the legend goes, is the first to make wine. Before his ascension to Olympus, he wandered the mortal realm teaching them the secrets of winemaking.
Demeter & Amphictyonis
Dionysus’ goddess counterpart is Demeter. Together they are known as the gods of the earth. The gods are viewed in many forms between cultures and within them. In this case, goddess Amphictyonis, goddess of wine and friendship between nations, is a form of Demeter in the Greek city-state of Anthela. Outside of this local form of worship, Demeter was known as the goddess of the harvest, encompassing all crops of the earth.
Ninkasi – special mention
Ninkasi isn’t a wine god, but the god of beer and brewing, which deserves an honorable mention because there’s no better alcoholic companion to wine than beer. At the end of a hard day of harvest, it’s not wine you’re reaching for – you’re cracking a cold one. Ninkasi is from Sumerian myth. In Greek culture, Dionysus can be known to embrace all forms of alcoholic beverages, making him god of beer in Greek myth.
If you are a fan of both wine and beer, of course you know about our Wine Clubs...but did you also know we have a Craft Beer Club? A feat Dionysus would approve of!
Author Bio: Samantha is a recent graduate of University of California, Davis with a BS in Viticulture and Enology. She is experienced in the laboratory and technical sides of winemaking and loves writing about wine when she’s not working a harvest. She is passionate about traveling the world and sharing her experiences with others!