The Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek that are translated as “wine” in English is translated into Pass Valley Yali as “grape juice pressed long ago (= fermented)” or “strong water” (source: Daud Soesilo). In Guhu-Samane it is also translated as “strong water” (source: Ernest L. Richert in The Bible Translator 1965, p. 198ff. ), in Noongar as “liquor” (verbatim: “strong water”) (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang), in Hausa as ruwan inabi or “water of grapes” (with no indication whether it’s alcoholic or not — source: Mark A. Gaddis), in sar as kasə nduú or “grape drink” (source: Andy Warren-Rothlin), or in Papantla Totonac and Coyutla Totonac as “a drink like Pulque” (for “Pulque,” see here ) (source: Jacob Loewen in The Bible Translator 1971, p. 169ff. ).

In Swahili, Bible translations try to avoid local words for alcoholic drinks, because “drinking of any alcohol at all was one of the sins most denounced by early missionaries. Hence translators are uncomfortable by the occurrences of wine in the Bible. Some of the established churches which use wine prefer to see church wine as holy, and would not refer to it by the local names used for alcoholic drinks. Instead church wine is often referred to by terms borrowed from other languages, divai (from German, der Wein) or vini/mvinyo (from ltalian/Latin vino/vinum). Several translations done by Protestants have adapted the Swahili divai for ‘wine,’ while those done by Catholics use vini or mvinyo.” (Source: Rachel Konyoro in The Bible Translator 1985, p. 221ff. )

The Swahili divai was in turn borrowed by Sabaot and was turned into tifaayiik and is used as such in the Bible. Kupsabiny, on the other hand, borrowed mvinyo from Swahili and turned it into Finyonik. (Source: Iver Larsen)

In Nyamwezi, two terms are used. Malwa ga muzabibu is a kind of alcohol that people specifically use to get drunk (such as in Genesis 9:21) and ki’neneko is used for a wine made from grapes (source: Pioneer Bible Translators, project-specific translation notes in Paratext).

In some Hindi translations (such as the Common Language version, publ. 2015 ), one term (dākharasa दाखरस — grape juice) is used when that particular drink is in the focus (such as in John 2) and another term (madirā मदिरा — “alcohol” or “liquor”) when drunkenness is in the focus (such as in Eph. 5:18).

In Mandarin Chinese, the generic term jiǔ (酒) or “alcohol(ic drink)” is typically used. Exceptions are Leviticus 10:9, Numbers 6:3, Deuteronomy 29:6, Judges 13:4 et al., 1 Samuel 1:15, and Luke 1:15 where a differentiation between weak and strong alcohol is needed. The Mandarin Chinese Union Version (2010) translates that as qīngjiǔ lièjiǔ (清酒烈酒) and dànjiǔ lièjiǔ (淡酒烈酒), both in the form of a Chinese proverb and meaning “light alcohol and strong drink.” (Source: Zetzsche)

Click or tap here to see a short video clip about wine in biblical times (source: Bible Lands 2012)

See also proceeds from the vine / anything that comes from the grapevine, wine (Japanese honorifics), and wine (Gen 27:28).