Wine Culture and Information - Volume 16
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  Editorial Issue 168, December 2017   
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To the Origins of Wine


 Wine will never end to amaze us. Its bond with man and his history are so strong and well rooted, as to make it very difficult to know when the love for the beverage of Bacchus started in time. Authors of the past have left to us, with their writings, countless proofs both about wine and its origin or supposed birth. A clear sign that wine was, since the beginning of civilization, a fundamental part of the culture of man, protagonist and essential element of many aspects of life, both sacred and profane. There is no era, in fact, in the history of humanity in which wine has not been mentioned in documents of those times, always emphasizing the fundamental and central role for man and society. It is not the only beverage, of course, to have played such a fundamental role in the history of man - we could think, for example, about beer, tea and coffee - however it is undeniable wine played a special role.


 

 In his long relationship with wine, man has tried to keep a memory and to pass to posterity the emotions and facts about places and grapes protagonists of wines poured in his glasses and cups. He has always tried - as much as he could - to understand when, where and how the beverage of Bacchus had its origin from. An evidently difficult research and frequently determined by chance and unexpected discoveries which allowed man to progressively and a reliably understand its origin. In every era, in fact, man has always tried to understand the mystery of the origin of wine, also by providing concrete facts, proved and reliable, as well as more or less founded stories and legends. The research about the origin of wine is still progressing now and, just like in the past, we are adding new elements to the complex case of its history, trying to define in a more and more reliable way the era of its birth.

 Archeology, of course, is one of the main disciplines allowing us to travel back on time to the discovery of customs and social organizations of past times. The valuable contribution of archeology, in general terms, therefore not only referred to wine, allows us to better understand the evolution of man and how we get up to here. It allows us, as for wine and food, to understand the evolution of taste, production and cultivation techniques. Besides trying, of course, to define the birth of wine - or better to say - to find the most ancient evidences allowing us to understand the origins and the customs of human beings. In the course of time, thanks to archeology, we have in fact been successful - and of course we will continue to do that - to discover the origin of wine in remote eras and places, every time allowing us to go back in time even of many thousands of years.

 This is what has recently happened, thanks to the discovery of new archaeological finds of remote times and that, unequivocally, are associated to wine. In two archaeological sites in Georgia - exactly at Gadachrili Gora and Shulaveris Gora, not so far from the capital city Tbilisi - have been found jars in which, unequivocally, was contained wine. The amazing thing is that it was a wine the way we think it today, that is exclusively produced by the fermentation of grape juice from vines belonging to Vitis Vinifera Sativa species, that is the wine vine, the same we still use today. Jars, or better to say, the evidence of wine contained in them, dates the discovery back to 5800-6000 BC and gives Georgia back the record of being the place where the wine took its origin from. It should be said, in fact, previous archaeological discoveries moved the origin of wine in Iran, with finds dated back to 5400-5000 BC and that beaten the record of Georgia.

 This discovery has a huge meaning if we think it moves the origin of wine back in time of about one thousand years. This means that man, eight thousands year ago, cultivated vine in order to harvest grape in order to make wine. We do not know, of course, the use they made of wine at those times, it was certainly consumed as a beverage, however we do not know its role in social life and nutrition. The fact these jars - better to say, the eight fragments of them - contained wine allows us to understand that, since those times, wine was an integral part of the life of man. It should be said, for the sake of completeness, it is however not about the most ancient discovery about the use of fermented grape juice. This record, according to the present archaeological discoveries, belongs to China where have been discovered finds associated to the production of fermented beverages based on grape juice.

 These discoveries are dated back to 7000 BC and proof the use of fermented grape juice added to honey, rice and hawthorn berries. It is something we could today defined as aromatized wine or a wine drink, therefore it is not exactly pure wine, that is exclusively produced by the fermentation of grape juice. I have always had a strong passion for history and archeology and a news like this is amazing to me. If we think about the history of wine and its role in culture and humanity, news like this one allows us to better understand what we pour in our glasses today and why we do that. It is amazing to know man has established such a strong bond with fermented grape juice in remote times, as to make it a beverage of high cultural and social importance, something survived up to our days. Man makes and consumes wine since 8000 years, something simply amazing. The magnificent and fundamental contribution given by archeology and that will continue to give is simply remarkable. I am sure they will be again successful in the future - by chance or not, it does not matter - and tell us about the origin of wine, by traveling back in time to the discovery of the birth of this extraordinary and unique beverage. It is amazing to know it simply is about fermented grape juice and that since 8000 years, or more, is part of man and his history.

Antonello Biancalana



   Share this article   Share on Google+   Summary of Editorial column Wine Tasting 
  Editorial Issue 168, December 2017   
To the Origins of WineTo the Origins of Wine  Contents 
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