Wine, Tradition & Conversation

Wine plays an important role in my life, and I’m not alone. For thousands of years it’s been a central part of religious ceremonies: Catholic communions, Passover Seders, ancient rituals to Dionysus. As someone who studies religion and cares deeply about food, wine means a lot of things to me. A glass paired with a home cooked meal is a lovely treat to myself and friends, it makes a good housewarming gift, it goes well with late night reading, and it can tell us a lot about the place it comes from: the land that grew the grapes, the religion of the makers, the culinary traditions of its homeland. But what I love most about wine is that it can bring people together and create lively debates, conversations, and connections. Living, eating, and cooking around the world has taught me a lot about what wine can and should do for us.

From a wine festival at Sacré Cœur in Paris. We celebrated with wine, cheese, live music, and art!

In the French tradition of the salon, drinking is combined with intellectual debate. Thinkers, writers, and artists gather at a cafe and discuss: what do we value? What should we value? What are we reading, what art is in fashion, how might we make our world more just? What does it mean to be just? In my world, I’m inspired to bring this inquisitive spirit into book clubs, dinner parties, and study groups. I pour everyone a glass of deep red wine and we start talking. Ask at least as many questions as you answer. Put out a charcuterie plate or a baked wheel of brie, and let the ideas-and wine-flow.

Discussing our favorite reads: Dani is telling us about The Romance of American Communism

In Israel I learned about how important wine is in the Jewish tradition. On each holiday my professors would teach us about what we were celebrating, accompanied often by a history lesson and related treat: apples and honey on Rosh Hashanah, challah on Shabbat, latkes around Hanukkah. The Hebrew word for the blessing of wine is Kiddush, whose root means holy or sacred. In your own life try connecting to your religious or cultural heritage. Do you or your family pair wine with certain foods or ideas? Or, ask your Jewish friends if they celebrate Shabbat and-if you’re lucky-maybe you’ll get to celebrate with them. Enjoy a little kosher wine and learn about what makes wine so important in Judaism. Share your oenological practices. Ask yourself why wine is or isn’t important to you, and in what context.

A little Shabbat charcuterie with a friend from Tel Aviv at Amelie Wine Bar near campus

In my personal tradition wine is best paired with a cozy night spent reading or talking with friends. There’s nothing I love more than spending time with people I love over a bottle of wine, catching up and discussing and laughing. I’ve learned a lot about wine and what it can do from living around the world, and in my home I try to incorporate my favorite parts of different traditions. We celebrate Shabbat with a good glass of wine, gather to discuss around a bottle, and share recipes and pairings with people we love. Try incorporating nice wine into your culinary, intellectual, and religious/cultural traditions.

From a poetry reading in the park on my friend’s birthday. Celebrating her with wine, literature, candles, and cupcakes.

Please drink legally and safely. If you don’t know your limit, drink in little bits with people you trust. Wine should be something you intake in moderation, and it’s safest when we approach it with goals of cultural learning and understanding rather than to get drunk. Stay safe, stay smart, and enjoy your wine!

Cora Enterline is a senior at NYU studying law, ethics, and religion. She’s studied and worked in Paris and Tel Aviv, where she loved biking, traveling, dancing, and teaching English. She has a love for foreign languages, sad novels, themed dinner parties, and red wine by candlelight. This summer, follow her blog to learn easy, student-friendly recipes and find inspiration from around the world for your own dinners, picnics, and culinary adventures at home!

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