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War Cry, 2nd Feb


I’ve just bought the latest issue of War Cry, the weekly mag of the Salvation Army. No! I’m not about to join and resign membership of TWS. But something in the latest edition piqued my interest: that word Tannins!

It’s not the sort of subject one would expect to read in a magazine for tee-totals. When people talk about tannins, my eyes usually glaze over as I’ve never seen a tannin. Certainly not in a bottle of wine.

But War Cry explained the origin of the word. Apparently it’s a Jewish word meaning dragon. No wonder I’ve never seen one. I’m grateful for the explanation.


As the resident Jew, I am baffled by this one…?! :thinking:

Tannin (emphasis on the second syllable) is actually Hebrew for a crocodile, not a dragon. But is it really to do with tannins is wine…? I’m doubtful somehow.


The usual explanation that it it refers to the process of tannin leather makes more sense to me, but then I’m not as expert on being Jewish as the Sally Army are.

As for Jewish language, again I’m no expert but aren’t there several including, Hebrew and Yiddish?


Thank you, Inbar. You must be right because War Cry went on to explain that tannins could be any beast. And modern versions of the Old Testament have translated into ‘jackals’.

War Cry also has a page for recipes. This week it’s Ghanaian stew! But the tee-totals didn’t give a wine suggestion. Any ideas?


Hmmm. I think I’ll need a bit more convincing on this. Just because there exists a similar word (though with a different meaning) in another language doesn’t mean the two are necessarily related.

The OED seems to think it comes from the Latin, via Old French.


This is a good example of how things are lost in translation, and maidens become virgins. Jackals is actually Tanim (the ‘im’ is a suffix indicating male plural in Hebrew), not tannin. But many Hebrew words for animals in the Bible, which are very much still in use in Hebrew have been slightly modified. Liviatan (aka Leviathan in English) is still used in modern Hebrew for a whale; Behemoth - which has come to indicate something huge in English, actually means female 'beasts ’ in Hebrew (the ‘ot’ is a suffix for the female plural).

One more reason not to adhere to old texts lost in translation several times.


Good point. In a sense, there is no such thing called a ‘Jewish’ language. There is Hebrew - the language spoken in Israel and by some Jews in the diaspora, and then there are hybrid languages such as Yiddish (Hebrew + German) and there used to also be one called Ladino (Hebrew + Old Spanish), which was used by Jews prior to being exiled from Spain in 1492. Very few people speak it now.

Sorry, I’m pontificating a little here… :grimacing:


Keep doing so!!

And to extend this inter-religion thread, isn’t pontificate something to do with the (Christian) Pope?


Something to do with the Pontiff, I believe, which is another word for the Pope?.. :thinking:


Well, Inbar, Peter etc, I’m Church of England. A couple of sundays ago, the gospel reading was the marriage feast of Cana. (For the non-religious, this was where Jesus converted water into wine). Depending which bible you use, there were six stone jars, each containing thirty gallons.

The sermon, that followed, was about……. er…………… At this stage, my mind wandered off and I began to focus on the wine. Quite natural for all of us of course! I did a mental calculation of how much wine it actually was.

I know from my local garage that a gallon is about five litres. So thirty gallons is 150 litres. There were six jars which makes 900 litres. A wine bottle of today is .7 or .75 of a litre. I didn’t have a calculator with me so I made a guesstimate. It was 1260 bottles. That’s 105 cases. It must have been some party!


Shame it’s 2000 years too late to gatecrash! :wink:


Indeed, and when it was written because the gallon measure has changed over time.

180 gallons of water (let alone wine) is a huge amount, some poor servant must have spend hours at the well and carrying buckets of water to those jars, only to have to do it the next day as the household realises they cannot wash their clothes in leftover wine :slight_smile:

Whether it’s too much wine for a wedding would depend I suppose on how many guests there were!

But one thing is certain: they didn’t toast the bride and groom with Champagne :smiley:


Thank you Peter and Inbar. I love your replies. They’re so funny!

The bit in the bible is St John’s gospel ch2 v1-10. Takes about a minute to read!

I use the King James bible which refers to firkins, not gallons. So Peter, you have a point. I particularly like verse 10 as it has an element of humour, Very unusual in the bible.

It suggests that a host provides the best wine as people sit down to dine. And when everyone is drunk, it doesn’t really matter if plonk comes along. The tipsy guests probably wouldn’t know. Clearly, St John knew a thing or two about human behaviour.


I just looked it up (think it was the New International version I found online) and it’s good advice! :smile:

“Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink…”


That’s one sound advice! :+1::+1:


Is it?

Aren’t Jesus’s actions supposed to be a model for our behaviour?

Surely the advice given by the action of Jesus is that when you run out of the initial good wine you bring out an even better one.


Hm! But if Jesus realises that your appreciation of the good wine pretty much diminishes once you’re well sozzled, then surely he’s demonstrating wisdom.

And more bottles of the better wines are left for his next shindig. :+1:

Anyway, wasn’t it St John’s advice, rather than Jesus’s?


Wasn’t the point that Jesus’s wine was the better one?

AFAIK Jesus didn’t write any of the Bible. All the stories he told and all his actions were later recounted by others.

And - I’m no theologian - but wouldn’t one be on sticky ground if one suggested that Jesus’s miracle wine was worse than the stuff they’d already had?


I stand corrected! I clearly got the wrong end of the (sticky) stick! :slight_smile:

That goes without saying. When we learn the Bible (aka Old Testament) in the school in Israel we, similarly, never refer to ‘God’ as the Bible’s author. It’s always referred to as the ‘Biblical narrator’. Better leave it at that before I’m stoned to death.


So much for pterodactyls! (Or dragons, or whatever it was that ancient Jewish people used to put in their wines).