ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
There are plenty of wine classes out there, but here's a name that will get your attention - what would Jesus drink? It's a new course being offered at a popular wine school in Boston. Lynnsay Maynard of WGBH has more.
LYNNSAY MAYNARD, BYLINE: Jonathon Alsop, founder of the Boston Wine School places thick slices before a handful of students.
JONATHON ALSOP: This is also a cheese that Jesus might have eaten. It's called Egyptian Roumy. It was a cheese that was introduced to the Egyptians by the ancient Romans and it's a sheep's milk cheese.
MAYNARD: He opens a red blend named Messiah from Lebanon.
ALSOP: Now this is something that citizens in biblical times would not have been acquainted with - the screw cap.
MAYNARD: Alsop founded the school 14 years ago and has taught food and wine classes on everything from pairing wine with meat to tasting the wines of Tuscany. Alsop came up with this latest idea after reading the Gospels.
ALSOP: This picture of Jesus as a foodie and a wine lover, slowly but surely starts to emerge. I mean, his first miracle was turning water into wine.
MAYNARD: As he pours samples from Galilee, Italy and Greece, Alsop describes the differences between moderate and ancient wine. The details of wine and winemaking practices from the Holy Lands are debated among experts. There isn't a lot of archaeological evidence or written records. However, many believe that ancient wine had a cloudy, milky appearance. Spices, herbs, and even woodchips were common additives - masking flavors and preserving the wine. And the alcohol content may have been substantially lower.
Erica Frye came to the class from nearby Wayland, Massachusetts. She was raised by a family of Methodist ministers that abstained from alcohol, but she was curious about biblical wine in a historical context.
ERICA FRYE: If you really dig down into history and the history of wine, it's coming from those areas of the world.
MAYNARD: Jenna Nejame said she attended Catholic Catechism classes as a kid, but references to wine were typically avoided.
JENNA NEJAME: They don't really dwell on the wine part, you know?
MAYNARD: The drinking alcohol?
NEJAME: Yeah, the drinking alcohol part.
MAYNARD: Alsop stresses that his interpretation is subjective. As one example, he cites Christ's offering of bread and wine as his body and blood during the Last Supper.
ALSOP: He's saying, you know, spiritually take me inside you. Let - you know, let my spirit suffuse your spirit. But naturally, he does that through these different wine and food metaphors.
MAYNARD: When asked if he thinks Jesus would have been a red or a white wine drinker, Alsop doesn't hesitate.
ALSOP: I'd like to think that Jesus was probably a red guy. I don't know why. That's just my own personal desire to maybe see it that way.
MAYNARD: For NPR News, I'm Lynnsay Maynard in Boston.