Scientist Trying to Resurrect King David's Wine

3K-year-old grapes could help Elyashiv Drori succeed in his quest
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 4, 2014 8:06 AM CDT
Scientist Trying to Resurrect King David's Wine
A scientist is trying to track down the wine variety that King David drank.   (AP Photo/Luis Hidalgo)

If a scientist in Israel is successful, we could someday taste the wine described in the Bible. In 2011, Elyashiv Drori sent students throughout Israel in search of wild grapes, which were tough to find in an area that saw alcohol banned for centuries under past Muslim rulers, the BBC reports. Relying in part on tips from hikers who had sighted wild grapes, they managed to find 100 types in three years, at least 10% of which could be used in winemaking, reports JTA. Drori has tasked DNA biologist Mali Salmon-Divol with sequencing the grapes' genomes, and she expects some big revelations from that: "You want to know what this wine looked like, which wine King David drank, white or red," Salmon-Divol says, and the grapes' genes will reveal that: "We can see if it's red or white, strong or weak."

Those grapes' DNA will be compared to that of an ancient grape she plans to sequence. JTA describes them as looking like a bunch of "black pebbles": the remains of 3,000-year-old grapes found near Jerusalem's Old City. Wines are already made in Israel, mostly using grapes native to Europe, and Drori would like to change that: "It's not interesting to make chardonnay in Israel because there's chardonnay that comes from California … But if you can make wine in Israel that isn't elsewhere and that connects to the history here, that's much more interesting." But 3,000-year-old wine isn't the oldest to be consumed in Israel: Haaretz reports that archaeologists have now determined that roughly 40 clay vessels found in 2013 in a 4,000-year-old cellar at the Tel Karbi palace held red wine. (Read about another fascinating alcohol-related find.)

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