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solely from the increase of temperature producing the acetous fermentation. I have known a cellar of the finest beer, and casks of the most beautiful cider, become almost as acid as vinegar in consequence of a little increase of heat. On this account it is that we prefer brewing in spring or autumn-that we keep our fermented drinks in cellars-and carefully regulate the temperature by the thermometer. Now the beer and cider of England are far stronger than the fermented wines of hot countries could be. How difficult, then, must it have been, in very warm climates, to have prevented the acetous fermentation of liquors that contained in them so small a portion of alcohol; and especially so, seeing they had no pure spirit to add to them, nor but little of our scientific knowledge or arts, to direct them in regulating the heat, or in constructing suitable repositories for these liquors. None of our countrymen think of brewing, or of making cider from apples in India; yet this is quite as possible as to make fermented wines from the sweet grapes of those warm climates.
Among the Greeks we learn that the same room constituted the wardrobe, the armory, and the wine-cellar. It is also well ascertained that the sweeter any wine is, the smaller must be the proportion of alcohol it contains, because the sugar has not been decomposed, and therefore the more readily will it pass into the acetous fermentation. But all the wines of hot countries must have been exceedingly sweet and proportionably weak, and consequently always in danger of becoming acetous and if very sweet, they must have been almost or entirely destitute of spirit; and if they became sour, they were equally weak, because the acetous fermentation does not produce alcohol. In some vinegar, before it is distilled, there may be one per cent. of spirit, but this arises from the imperfect process of the transition of the liquor into an acid. In such cases the whole of the alcohol has not been oxygenized. Thus the sweetness of the fruits and of the juices, together with the high temperature of the climate must have been fatal to the existence of strong alcoholic wines.
Dr. Shaw's testimony respecting Palm wine—the sakar, or strong drink of Scripture contains an historical fact which exactly accords with the observations of science. "This liquor,"
says he," which has a more luscious sweetness than honey, is of the consistence of a thin sirup but quickly grows tart and ropy." His further observation, that a spirit called "araky," could be distilled from it, is in exact accordance with the fact that a small portion of spirit can be obtained from vinegar by distillation; but as distilling was unknown in ancient days, this poison was not obtained from tart or ropy wines; and therefore it became an important object in those climates to prevent fermentation.
If their wines fermented they were for the most part lost; for, if tart and ropy, they were unpalatable, and as they knew not how to obtain spirit from them by distillation, the juice of the grape was as completely spoiled as our beer or cider would be if manufactured in a hot summer and kept in very warm rooms.
3. We have seen that distillation was not practised until the 9th century, nor did ardent spirit come into general use until the latter part of the 16th, consequently there was, previous to this period, no alcohol to mix with wines and give them a potency which they did not naturally possess. In modern times you may make a sweet wine as strong as you please by the addition of brandy, as you may make gin and water as sweet as you please by the addition of sugar; but before the discovery of spirits of wine all fermented liquors must have contained in them only as much alcohol as there was of the sugar converted into that poison, and therefore, if the wines were sweet, the vinous fermentation, if it had taken place at all, must have been very imperfect; and if they were sour, their acidity proved that the acetous fermentation had neutralized the vinous, which had previously taken place. In each instance these artificial beverages must have been far from potent, and in most cases were entirely destitute of alcohol.
These statements, which are borne out by the most credible scientific authorities and experiments, may account for the ancient mode of manufacturing wine. In Greece, Rome, and Palestine it was customary to boil down their wines into a kind of sirup. Mr. Buckingham tells us that the "wines of Helbon" and "wine of Lebanon" mentioned in Scripture, and which exist in the Holy Land at this very day, are boiled wines, and consequently are thick, sweet, and sirupy. Columella, Pliny,
and other Roman writers tell us, that in Italy and Greece it was common to boil their wines. The "sapa and defrutum" of the Latins, and the Eppa and Eipatov of the Greeks, which Pliny calls "siræum and hepsema," and adds that they answered to the sapa and defrutum of the Latins,* were boiled wines. In making “sapa” the juice of the grape was boiled down to onethird, and in “defrutum” to one-half, so that in the former case two-thirds of the water was evaporated, and, in the latter, onehalf. These liquors must have been sirups, and every chimist knows that if they were thick sirups they could not have undergone the vinous fermentation.
The practice of evaporating the juice of the grape must have been adopted in Palestine as a wise precaution against the heat of the country; for by this operation a considerable portion of the water was boiled away, the solid and saccharine substances of the grape were brought into a thicker consistence, and the acetous fermentation prevented. This historical fact respecting the boiling of grape juice, furnishes us with four incontrovertible proofs that the wines of Palestine were not alcoholic, or did not obtain their inebriating power from vinous fermentation. For,
1. As the water was evaporated by boiling, the quantity of saccharine matter must have borne a greater proportion to the liquid that was left, this was therefore equal to an increase of sugar. But we have seen that in hot countries, the excess of sugar, naturally found in the grape, is unfavorable to the vinous fermentation; but if a portion of the liquid be evaporated, the remaining juice must be still more saccharine, and therefore fermentation would be prevented.
2. It is stated on the highest chimical authority, that juices which are thick or sirupy are not of a consistence sufficiently liquid to admit of vinous fermentation; and therefore boiling down the juice of the fruit to one-third or one-half of its original quantity, must have produced a sirup, or a liquid too thick to ferment.
3. We have the most unquestionable evidence that the wines of the ancients were thick and sweet, or, in other words, were sirups, but you cannot make a sirup out of a fermented wine. The sugar has been decomposed, part of it has escaped in the * Pliny, B. 14, c. 9.
form of carbonic acid, and the other part remains in the form of alcohol; and, therefore, you cannot condense the carbonic acid, for that is gone; you cannot condense the alcohol which remains in the wine, for that will begin to escape before the liquor boils; and you cannot condense the water, for that will fly off in the form of steam; and the small residuum that remains will not be a sirup, but a substance which, when thoroughly dried, more resembles cinders than sugar, and probably consists chiefly of carbon or charcoal, or some other hard indigestible substance. I have boiled the juice of the grape before it has fermented, and by so doing have obtained a rich sirup, or rather a beautiful aromatic honey, and this when diluted with water, formed a most delicious drink. The thickness of the sirup, of course, depended on the length of time that it boiled or the evaporation that had taken place. But never could condense a fermented wine. In some cases, the liquor has become so sour as to defy my power to sweeten it; but, in every case, the spirit has first escaped, then the water or steam, and the residuum from a pint of wine has been very small indeed, and very unlike a sirup. Let any wine drinker attempt to inspissate his port, sherry, or claret, and he will labor in vain. You cannot, by boiling, thicken or produce a sirup from any modern fermented wines, and hence you have a proof equal to any demonstration of Euclid, that if the ancient wines were thick and sweet, they were not fermented. And as they were ignorant of distillation, they had no pure alcohol to put into their wines; if, therefore, their thick, sweet wines were inebriating, they were made so by drugs, but were not stupefying from spirit obtained by fermentation, and consequently altogether unlike our modern intoxicating beverages.
4. We know that at the heat of 170 degrees, and therefore long before boiling, alcohol begins to depart: if, then, the wines had undergone the vinous fermentation, still all the alcohol would have been boiled out of them in the process of decoction. Hence science allows us to conclude that, in hot countries, boiled wines could not contain alcohol. I have said in "hot countries," because in those climates the fruits in their natural state are too sweet for perfect vinous fermentation; but in colder countries, in whose fruits there may be a deficiency of sugar and an excess
of water, boiling the juice of the grape may evaporate the redundant water, and leave the juice sufficiently saccharine for the production of alcohol. But the effect of decoction which, to a certain extent, would be favorable to fermentation in a cold climate, would be fatal to it in such warm countries as Palestine, Syria, Egypt, or even Greece, in which the juice, previous to boiling, would contain an excess of saccharine matter.
But while these observations and arguments demonstrate that the wines of Palestine were not alcoholic, or were for the most part destitute of the spirits of wine, it is not intended to affirm that they were all destitute of an intoxicating principle. We have already shown that other substances, besides alcohol, possess inebriating and stupefying or maddening properties. In the Sacred Volume we have several allusions to such medicinal or deleterious drugs. In Psalm lx. 3, we read of the "wine of astonishment or giddiness." In Psalm lxxv. 8, it is said that the wine in the cup of Jehovah was "red and full of mixture." Isaiah, in chapter li. 17, 22, mentions the "cup of trembling or giddiness." Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Habakkuk, speak of the same drugged liquor. In Proverbs xxiii. 30, we read of those who go to "seek mixed wine." The wine mentioned, Prov. xxxi. 4-7, was a soporific drink; kings and princes were prohibited from touching it, lest they should "forget the law," while it was to be given to those that were of a heavy heart, that they might "drink and remember their misery no more." The wine mixed with myrrh, gall, or a species of laudanum, offered to our Lord, was intended to produce stupefaction, and therefore he would not drink. Hence we learn that the strong wines of the ancients were mixed or drugged to render them inebriating, and to these mixtures, rather than to alcohol, they owed their intoxicating powers. We learn from Homer, Columella, Pliny, and others, that the ingredients used were very various, and sometimes very potent.
Homer is allowed by all to have been very correct in his description of the countries, manners, and customs of the Greeks. He lived nearly one thousand years before Christ; and seeing the customs of those ages were almost permanent, his descriptions extend back to a very remote antiquity. Among other things this poet very frequently mentions the very potent drugs