Baldacci Blog

Viticulture Mythology: The Legend of King Jamsheed

July 25th, 2011 by Kevin Baldacci | No Comments »


Wine has splashed through the sands of time farther back then most may ever be able to figure out. It has appeared in legend, myth, and religion dating back thousands of years.

In Greco-Roman religion, the god Dionysus, god of grape harvest, winemaking and wine, is described as a foreign god who brought the art of winemaking from the East.

Biblical scholars who named Noah as the true, first cultivator, describes that following the flood, he settled down to be the first winemaker. Hey, not a bad story, I mean who wouldn’t need a drink after a flood that lasted 40 days and 40 nights. According to scholars, Noah became so enthralled with his work that he also became the first town drunk (completely understandable).

Probably one of the most little known stories of the origins of winemaking is the legend of King Jamsheed. According to myth, Jamsheed was the fourth king of the world and wore an assortment of hats on top of royalty. He had command over all the angels and demons of the world, and was both king and the high priest. A pretty demanding day job if you ask me. However, his fame is most well-known for his number of inventions including: the weaving and dying of clothes, silk and wool, building houses out of brick, weapons and armor, but most importantly…wine.

The origin of winemaking still remains clouded in doubt and mistranslation. However, the version most popularly believed in began with a consort of Jamsheed’s. According to Persian legend, the king banished one of the harem ladies from his kingdom due to her lack of obedience. I mean, the guy was ruler of the world and had a lot on his plate…I bet he didn’t tolerate much. Wishing to commit suicide due to her grief of being banished from the kingdom, she broke into the king’s warehouse and found what she was looking for. A jar labeled “poison” which contained the remnants of grapes that had been spoiled and were deemed undrinkable. Not knowing that the poison was actually the result of fermentation caused by the breakdown of the grapes by yeast into alcohol, she drank the liquid long and deep. Moments passed and the harem girl couldn’t figure out why she hadn’t croaked and toppled to the ground. Just then, she was overtaken with an overwhelming, carefree sensation and her spirits lifted. She took her discovery to the King and shared this new “wine” beverage with the king. He too was overtaken with the sensations of wine. The rest is clouded in myth and legend but essentially the King and the harem girl spent the evening tossing back this new nectar of the gods and she was accepted back into the kingdom the next morning.

King Jamsheed loved this new beverage and its affects so much, he decreed that all grapes grown in his kingdom would be devoted to winemaking. And the rest is history…

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