Thursday, August 10, 2006

Turning Wine Into Grape Juice

Being a history dork, I found this fascinating. From American Vision comes the history of unfermented wine: Turning Wine into Grape Juice.

A Methodist dentist, Dr. Thomas Bramwell Welch, objected to the use of fermented wine in the communion service of his church in Vineland, New Jersey. He experimented in his kitchen to come with a non-alcoholic substitute which he named “Dr. Welch’s Unfermented Wine.” This was in 1869. He approached church officials to persuade them to substitute his beverage for the traditional wine. The elders regarded his suggestion as being an unacceptable innovation. His son Charles, who was also a dentist, changed the name to Welch’s Grape Juice. He promoted the product at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. He said that his work on the wine substitute was born “out of a passion to serve God by helping his church to give its communion (as) ‘the fruit of the vine’ instead of the ‘cup of devils.’” He set up a production facility in a barn behind the family home. Since the skins of grapes are covered with yeast, fermentation begins almost immediately after the yeast mixes with the juice. The juice has to be pasteurized to stop the fermentation process. Response was so overwhelming that he gave up dentistry and devoted full time to making and distributing grape juice. Many Christians claim that Jesus drank grape juice—the true fruit of the vine—and not wine. Since grape juice was not developed until the nineteenth century, it’s hardly possible that the wine mentioned in the Bible was actually grape juice. “Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan startles the world by serving Welch's Grape Juice instead of wine at a full-dress diplomatic function honoring the retiring British ambassador. Newspaper columnists, cartoonists and editors make much of it for months.” Today, Welch’s is a multi-million-dollar food company.