Most people think of France when they think of the birthplace of fine wine. In many respects they may be correct. The French certainly have perfected the craft, but were they the first?
For years, historians, archaeologists and scientists have been trying to isolate the origins of wine. Popular belief is that wine originated in the Middle East or immediate surrounding areas. The most common countries associated with the birth of wine are Turkey, Armenia, Georgia and Iran.
Although there is no disputing the fact that the wine consumed at that time would barely resemble what is consumed now, there is physical proof that inhabitants during that time created, stored and attempted to age wine!
There have been vessels unearthed which contained residue of stored wine and preservative agents, the oldest of which dates back 8,000 years. It was unearthed in what is today the Republic of Georgia.
Since then, many of the countries associated with wine’s origins have gone through transformations which have shifted there interest away from wine production. The most notable event would be the spread of Islam (in the 700s A.D.), a religion that forbids the consumption of alcohol.
The Greeks and later the Romans had no such restrictions and gladly picked up the mantel. They continuously sought to improve their wines and even laid the foundations of what would become the current wine strongholds of France and Italy. When these empires expanded, the presence of wine expanded along with them. The Romans would not only bring their own vines, but also cultivate wild vines growing in the different regions.
Regardless of its origins, wine has always been a very integral part of civilization. It has always lent itself to improving the quality of life of everyone who consumed it out of appreciation and not excess.
- Johnson, Hugh; Jancis Robinson. The World Atlas of Wine: Sixth Edition. Mitchell Beazley. Pgs.12 & 285.