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You are here: Home | The History of Wine The History of Wine

The history of wine spans thousands of years and is closely intertwined with the history of agriculture, cuisine, civilization and humanity itself. Archaeological evidence suggests that the earliest known wine production occurred in Georgia, Iran and Armenia dated between 8,000 BC and 6,000 BC, respectively. The archaeological evidence becomes clearer and points to domestication of grapevine in Early Bronze Age sites of the Near East, Sumer and Egypt from around the third millennium BC There are many apocryphal tales about the origins of wine. Biblical accounts tell of Noah and his sons producing wine at the base of Mount Ararat. One tale involves the legendary Persian king, Jamshid and his harem. According to the legend, the king banished one of his harem ladies from his kingdom, causing her to become despondent and wishing to commit suicide. Going to the king's warehouse, the girl sought out a jar marked "poison" which contained the remnants of grapes that had spoiled and were deemed undrinkable. Unbeknown to her, the "spoilage" was actually the result of fermentation caused by the breakdown of the grapes by yeast into alcohol. After drinking the so-called poison, the harem girl discovered its effects to be pleasant and her spirits were lifted. She took her discovery to the king who became so enamored with this new "wine" beverage that he not only accepted the girl back into his harem but also decreed that all grapes grown in Persepolis would be devoted to winemaking. While most wine historians view this story as pure legend, there is archaeological evidence that wine was known and extensively traded by the early Persian kings Wine, tied in myth to Dionysus/Bacchus, was common in ancient Greece and Rome,and many of the major wine-producing regions of Western Europe today were established with Phoenician and later Roman plantations. Wine-making technology, such as the wine press, improved considerably during the time of the Roman Empire; many grape varieties and cultivation techniques were known and barrels were developed for storing and shipping wine. In medieval Europe, following the decline of Rome and its industrial-scale wine production for export, the Christian Church became a staunch supporter of the wine necessary for celebration of the Catholic Mass. Whereas wine was forbidden in medieval Islamic cultures, its use in Christian libation was widely tolerated and Geber and other Muslim chemists pioneered its distillation for Islamic medicinal and industrial purposes such as perfume. Wine production gradually increased and its consumption became popularized from the 15th century onwards, surviving the devastating Phylloxera louse of the 1870s and eventually establishing growing regions throughout the world.

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