While historians are still debating whether the Last Supper was a Passover Seder or a normal dinner, researchers are coming closer to uncovering one key element: What type of wine would have been served at the meal.
Wine has been produced in the Middle East for at least 6,000 years, according to research conducted by University of Pennsylvania anthropologist Patrick McGovern. Those wines were often infused with fruits and spices — a 3,700-year-old wine cellar discovered in Nahariya, Israel, contained jugs with traces of honey, mint, cedar, tree resins and cinnamon bark. Further excavations have uncovered wines mixed with ingredients as varied as pomegranates, raisins and saffron.
But which variety of grapes would have been used? Eliyashiv Drori, a oenologist at Ariel University in the West Bank, uses DNA testing to determine what types of wines would have been drunk by King David and Jesus. He told the New York Times in 2015 that one likely variety was the dabouki, a grape native to Armenia that produces a white wine that Drori described as “cashewlike” and “a little bit tropical.” McGovern, on the other hand, told the oenophilic website Vivino on Monday that the wine in question was “something like a modern-day Amarone,” a rich red variety from northern Italy.
In the end, the question is unlikely to be definitely answered. But as McGovern said, “If someone can find me the Holy Grail and send it to my lab, we could analyze it and tell you.”