Jesus in Luke 5: 36-39 says, “No one tears a piece from a new cloak to patch an old one. Otherwise, he will tear the new and the piece from it will not match the old cloak. Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled, and the skins will be ruined. Rather, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins. [And] no one who has been drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’”

The presence of wine can be traced back to antiquity – and wine is garnered from the fruit of plants that require careful cultivation and pruning for a substantial period of time before the fruit can be deemed satisfactory for harvesting and use (University of Pennsylvania Museum, 1999).

In Ancient Jewish times, wine was made with the following steps:

First, the grapes were gathered into a vat that was usually hewn out of stone, or made by a potter from clay.

Second, to extract the juices, the grapes would be crushed usually by the bare feet by vineyard workers holding on to ropes above their heads. The grapes were not crushed by stone, or the process would splinter the grape seeds releasing bitterness into the wine.

Next, the juice would flow into a cistern through a pipe-like structure containing various rudimentary filters, such as filters made from a mesh of vines or twigs.

In this cistern, the wine would be left to ferment naturally using the natural yeast found on grapes. The depth of the cistern and the material of the cisterns would keep the fermenting wine at a stable temperature. The new wine also known as the Tirosh would usually be ready in 3 to 5 days. The liquid is ladled up from the cistern and passed through a linen cloth to remove finer impurities when the signs of carbon dioxide activity first appears from the fermentation process. This liquid is then placed in clay or stone amphorae, a vessel with two large handles, then sealed with pine resin or pitch.

The new wine had to be set aside for 40 days to continue the work of flavour development. This was then transferred to earthen pitchers or wine skins made out of animal hide to continue to mature. The new wine skins tended to age and expand with the wine inside, and the wine would have been deemed ready, when the wine skins had hardened to their optimum capacity. The process of expansion and contraction, would split old wine skins already hardened, and render the wine useless and undrinkable (Hirsch & Eisenstein, n.d.; Montefiore, 2012)

For the Jewish people, wine was highly symbolic, representing the quintessence of virtue and goodness. When this goodness turned bad, this was accompanied by the analogy of wine turning into vinegar, while the despicable and the deplorable in Jewish culture were described as sour wine (Hirsch & Eisenstein, n.d.).

Jesus, who is the resurrection and the life, offers us a generous outpouring of this new goodness. Yet reminds us that the vessels which contain this goodness, have to be themselves transformed or made new, or else, this in-filling with the new goodness, will quickly leak and waste away via the cracks formed on the old wine skins.

This new wine, also has to be carefully tended to with right catechesis and formation, with the help of good mentors in the faith, or else left to its own devices, may turn into vinegar if oxidisation occurs in the meeting of the elements outside of the wineskins, or worse become sour wine.

Easter provides an opportunity to taste the goodness of the Lord and the new wine that has been made ready for us. Yet, we are happy with mediocrity and staying within what is comfortable to us – our old wineskins, and say that the wine that we have already tastes good, why should we bother about this new wine? As such, we miss an opportunity to savour a much better wine that the Lord is offering us.

Jesus already has given us a hint of the quality of this new wine in the testimony of the headwaiter: “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.” (John 2:10). It was not that the wedding couple at Cana had served inferior wine, at weddings only the best wines were served. Yet, with Jesus, what is bad is made good, and what is already good, levels up and is made unbelievably and phenomenally better.

By the Grace of God,

Brian Bartholomew Tan



Hirsch, E. G. & Eisenstein, J. D. (n.d.) Wine. Jewish Encyclopedia. Retrieved April 14, 2024 from

Montefiore, A. (2012). Wine Talk: Ancient Wine. The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved April 14, 2024 from

University of Pennsylvania Museum. (1999). Canaan and Ancient Israel. The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Retrieved April 14, 2024 from,wine%20was%20preferred%20over%20new