When sipping your favorite wine, do you ever think about the history of wine? Who invented it? When did they invent it? Why did they invent it? I hope you have fun going down this path of thousands of years.
Was Wine Created or Discovered?
Most people, including historians, believe that wine was not really invented but was instead discovered. “Oh look. Our grapes appear to have spoiled and fermented. What do you think of this fermented grape juice?”
Where Was Wine First Discovered?
Evidence suggests that wine originated in the Caucasus and Zagros Mountains, which contain the highest peaks of Europe. These mountain ranges span from Armenia through Azerbaijan, Georgia, northern Iran, southeastern Anatolia, and eastern Turkey.
The oldest-known winery was discovered in the “Areni-1” cave in Vayots Dzor, Armenia. Dated to c. 4100 BC, the site contained a wine press, fermentation vats, jars, cups and even grape seeds and vines. Archaeologists believe that wine production began well before this time, perhaps as early as 10,000 BC, when society was shifting from a nomadic to a more sedentary life and agriculture was starting to play a more important role.
Patrick McGovern, a biomolecular archaeologist with the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology, identified residues of tartaric acid from grapes in 7,400-year-old jars discovered in a mud-brick building in Iran’s Zagros Mountains. Based on evidence, he believes that the grape juice was intentionally fermented.
Scientists in fact have dated fossilized grape vines at 60 million years old.
Is the History of Wine Tied to Religion or Something Else?
Wine has been associated with religion forever. We even read about Noah and wine in the Old Testament. We also have known that wine is associated with pleasure. But some archaeologists believe that wine’s origins were likely tied to medicines. “Alcohol was the universal drug,” McGovern says. “It’s a mysterious beverage that tastes good and provides energy; it’s a social lubricator with mind-altering effects, and it has all these medical properties.”
McGovern’s team identified the first chemical evidence for ancient Egyptian medicines in vessels from the 5,000-year-old tomb of Pharaoh Scorpion I—and they were spiked with grape wine imported from the Jordan River valley.
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