The Wines Of Mount Lebanon. -- By: Eli Smith

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 003:10 (May 1846)
Article: The Wines Of Mount Lebanon.
Author: Eli Smith


The Wines Of Mount Lebanon.

Rev. Eli Smith

Missionary in Syria.

The following communication was written in Beirut in February, 1845. If the statements contained in it are not full in every point, it will be remembered, I trust, that the article was written in a country where it was very difficult to obtain authentic and exact information. I have selected such information as rests, I believe, upon good authority, and have preferred, where such cannot be found, to be silent I may add, that having had very little to do with wines all my life, my knowledge on this subject was very vague, until I entered upon the present investigation for the purpose of writing the following Article. Some of my previous impressions I have now been obliged to correct. My information has been obtained from seven districts of Mt. Lebanon, viz. Bsherry, Kesrawân, the Kati’a, Metn, Jurd, Shehhâr, and Menâsif, extending from Tripoli nearly to Sidon.

The methods of making wine in this region are numerous, but may be reduced to three classes.

1. The simple juice of the grape is fermented, ivithout desiccation or boiling. The quantity thus made is small, and except in particular cases, where the soil or climate is favorable, it will not keep. Bhamdun, a village in the Jurd, is the only place where I have seen this method of manufacture. There the average temperature of the air in August, has been found for two years, to be about 70°, and this winter one fall of snow has lain for a month on a part of the vineyards, before it entirely melted away. Yet, though the climate is so temperate, the wine I am speaking

of will not keep a year. It is made by treading the grapes in baskets, through which the juice runs, and is thus separated from the skins and seeds. The quantity of wine produced is in weight about half the weight of the grapes pressed. It is harsh and unwholesome, but possesses rather strong intoxicating powers.

2. The juice of the grape is boiled down before fermentation.—In this way it is made in much larger quantities, especially in places which manufacture it for sale. The must is first separated from the skins, and the boiling is done before fermentation. The effect is to clarify the must, by causing the crude substances to rise in the form of a scum, which is removed by a skimmer. As soon as this ceases to rise, the boiling is stopped, and the must set aside for fermentation. The quantity is usually diminished only four or five per cent, by boiling, and the wine is commonly sweet.

3. The grapes are partially dried in the sun before being pressed.—Wine is made in this way in nearly or quite as large quantit...

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