And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus said to him, They have no wine.
The miracle took place a few days before the Passover, and this festival usually fell on the 30th of March. The wine that was drunk at the feast must therefore have been kept for six or seven months from the previous vintage. It must, in consequence, have undergone the process of fermentation, for, without this, no organic juice could have been preserved for such a length of time. Fermentation is a natural process, which takes place in all watery solutions of vegetable substances containing saccharine matters; and depends entirely upon the growth of a microscopic fungus called the yeast-plant, which develops with extreme rapidity into myriads of minute ceils or vesicles, and while doing so resolves the sugar in solution into alcohol and carbonic acid gas. The spores, or seeds, of this fungus exist in enormous quantities everywhere; and no vegetable juice can be exposed to the air for however short a time without receiving some of them; and if the temperature and other conditions be suitable, they begin at once to grow and multiply, thereby producing fermentation and liberating alcohol. Even in ripe grapes, while they are hanging on the vine, this yeast-fungus is often developed, causing vinous fermentation. It is impossible, therefore, to produce an infusion of grapes from which these ubiquitous germs are absent — unless the juice is boiled and the vessel hermetically sealed; and even then, so tenacious are they of life, we cannot be sure that we have got rid of them, as Pasteur's recent researches abundantly testify. And wherever these germs are present, the process of fermentation begins, and is carried on with greater or less rapidity according to the temperature. In a warm climate it goes on with extraordinary vigour. There is no such thing, therefore, as unfermented wine. The juice of the grape when immediately squeezed out may be so called; but if it is kept for a few days under ordinary conditions it inevitably undergoes the vinous fermentation.
(H. Macmillan, LL. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.