The sacredness of pure grape wines in the Zoroastrian religious rituals

Pure grape Wine plays a central role in the Aryan Zoroastrian religious rituals. Also, the ancient Magi and Zoroastrians were famous for their superb wine making skills.

The association of wine with Zoroastrian worship and the ancient Aryan religion has not been lost on the Iranian mystics and wine poets of the Islamic era.

In the Persian mystic poetry, the first or olden Magis (Pir-é Moghán) and the Winery provide an alternative, more sensuous mode of worship; in direct contrast to the moslem clergy and the mosque.

In the Avestan lore, grape vines are the ratü “chief, wise counsel” of all the fruits. The main term used in Persian poetry to mean wine, is MAY (pronounced just like the English month of May.) Persian term for Wine or MAY comes from the Avestan mað/mad, Vedic máðú, Old Norse mjöðr “mead wine.”

Mað/mad is the sacred, wine of immortality or haömá, Vedic sómá. When the sacred herb/plant could not be found, pure grape wine was substituted in its place.

In the poetic gathas, the ancient Aryan Prophet asks how to remove the stain/filth (of bloody sacrifices) from the wine. Alluding to the mixing of sacramental wine with blood sacrifices, thereby condemning the killing of animals and blood sacrifices and NOT the sacred haömá wine as erroneously maintained by some.

In the Sháh-námæ, a literary masterpiece that is pre-Islamic in its context and ideology, wine is an antidote to grief and misfortune and the necessary accompaniment of hospitality.

Also Herodotus writes concerning the ancient Iranians: “They are very fond of wine, and drink it in large quantities. They eat little solid food but abundance of dessert, which is set on table a few dishes at a time.

It is also their general practice to deliberate upon affairs of weight when they are drunk; and then on the morrow, when they are SOBER, the decision to which they came the night before is put before them by the master of the house in which it was made; and if it is then approved of, they act on it; if not, they set it aside. Sometimes, however, they are sober at their first deliberation, but in this case they always reconsider the matter under the influence of wine.”

In the Avestan lore, wine is a sacred drink that unveils the true nature of individuals. Zoroastrianism highly recommends MODERATE Drinking of pure grape wines, while forbidding drunkenness and mixing of a host of drinks.

Stories about the evils of making important decisions while drunk abound in Persian literature, as does praise for those wise enough to reconsider on the sober morning after all decisions made while drunk (Ḵᵛāja Neẓām-al-Molk, Sīār al-molūk, ed. H. Darke, Tehran, 1347 Š./1968, chaps. 15, 17, 39).

I shall conclude by the following beautiful poems from the Great Persian Wine Poet Khayyam:

“I sent my Soul through the Invisible,

Some letter of that After-life to spell:
And by and by my Soul return’d to me,
And answer’d: ‘I Myself am Heav’n and Hell”

“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,

Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”

“Drink wine. This is life eternal. This is all that youth will give you. It is the season for wine, roses and drunken friends. Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”


The superb darioush winery in Napa has brought back the glory of the ancient Iranian wine making to Napa, CA with most excellent wines. Darioush has also recreated the Persepolis in Napa, with imported stones from the vicinity of Persepolis itself. Truly impressive and most amazing.

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2 Responses to The sacredness of pure grape wines in the Zoroastrian religious rituals

  1. Zaneta Garratt says:

    very very interesting-it is good to drink wine in moderation-red wine is good for the blood, Judaism has wine in its rituals too, as does christianity-i find it interesting that the sacrifice of animals is rejected,which is good,but haoma is accepted, ephedra being also a medicinal herb-incidently,i make spiced fruit wine which i like a lot to food

    Date: Fri, 11 Jul 2014 06:12:44 +0000

  2. Pingback: Vinediction July Reading List – Vinediction

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