Wine is a beverage enjoyed by many, and the history of wine is as rich as the flavors associated with your favorite glass of red or white. Technically, it’s an alcoholic drink made from fermented grapes. Largely due to its intoxicating effects, it has been enjoyed for thousands of years around the world, the earliest origins come from Georgia (6000 BC), Iran (5000 BC.), and Sicily (4000 BC).
Even earlier than that, in 7,000 BC, there’s evidence of a similar beverage consumed in China. It is believed that this drink was mixed with rice to create a mixed fermented drink.
Interestingly, the history of wine is closely interconnected with the history of mankind. Throughout the years, wine has cropped up everywhere in the world except for Antarctica.
History of Wine: The World’s First Winery
Historians believe the world’s first winery was the 6,100-year-old Areni-1 winery located in Armenia. It was discovered in 2007 by a team of UCLA researchers.
By 4500 BC, wine had reached the Balkans and was enjoyed and celebrated in ancient Thrace, Greece, and Rome.
Modern Georgia (the country, not the US state) is where archeologists have uncovered the earliest evidence for grape wine and viniculture. These vineyards date back to 6000 – 5800 BC. Evidence suggests that other regions did not begin producing wine until much later.
The History of Wine and The Phoenicians
The Phoenicians were the first known traders of wine. From what we have gathered, they relied on a thin layer of olive oil to prevent oxidation from ruining the wine. In addition, they sealed it with pinewood and resin.
Between 1200 BC and 539 BC, the Phoenicians began trading wine across the Mediterranean, including the Middle East and all the way to North Africa, as well as regions of Greece and Italy.
They would bring wine in ceramic jugs, as well as grapevines, while spreading the joy and beauty of this intoxicating beverage.
It is assumed that wine spread in popularity as the Phoenicians moved outward from a base of city-states along the Mediterranean coast, an area that today makes up Lebanon, Syria, Israel, and Palestine.
Historians have found pressing evidence – like the shipwrecks from 750 BC that still had wine cargo intact.
During their travels, they made contact with many different groups, including the Jews who shortly thereafter would begin using wine in their religious ceremonies.
Wine in Religion
While a favored part of many celebrations and traditions, wine is also an important aspect of many religions. Red wine has been associated with the blood of the ancient Egyptians. Hence, why it was used in both Greek and Roman ceremonies. In addition, Judaism incorporates it in certain celebrations, including the Kiddush, while Christianity uses it in the Eucharist.
Wine in Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt remains a source of much curiosity, and here each pharaoh’s rise to power was very much connected with wine – or, at least, a wine-like substance made from red grapes and used in ceremonies. Around this time, the Egyptians had come into contact the Phoenicians, who are credited with cultivating wine and spreading it around the world.
Wine in Northern-Israel
It wasn’t long ago that archeologists uncovered evidence of wine drinking in northern-Israel in the form of a 3,700-year-old cellar. Scientists report that at least 500 gallons of wine were likely stored in this cellar. For reference, that’s enough wine to fill 3,000 bottles!
Wine in the New World
Between 1492 and 1600, wine made its way to the New World when it was brought to Mexico and Brazil. From there, it spread rapidly across South America.
Over the years, wine consumption and the production of grapevines continued to spread around the world. To this day, it remains a popular beverage consumed for fun, leisure, religious purposes, ceremonies, and more.
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