The history of wine is as old as civilization, the agriculture and the man himself. Historians suggest that wine was discovered accidentally during 6000 and 5000 BC. in the Fertile Crescent area, an area in between the Nile and the Persian Gulf. Archeological evidence has uncovered the earliest European wine production from crushed grapevines in Macedonia 6500 years ago.
From the time of discovery of wine to this present date, wine has played a very crucial role in many rituals and customs of modern society . In the ancient Egyptian period, wine became an integral part of ceremonial life, mainly funerary ceremonies. Only the richest Egyptians like the Pharaohs were able to drink wine. Wine was also common place in ancient Greece and Rome and in many other European countries.
The Egyptian Phase
Though scientists have identified a wine jar from Hajji Firuz Tepe in the Northern Zagros Mountains of Iran, the widespread knowledge of wine making is believed to have come from Egypt. The wine making process was represented on tomb walls dating back to 2600 BC. Maria Rosa, a master in Egyptology says that wine in ancient Egypt was of great importance and only the upper class people and kings had access to wine. Rosa further points out that the ancient Egyptians labeled the wine jars with product, year, growning area and the vine grower’s name, but there is no mention about the color of the wines. A recent discovery has shown that the wines in ancient Egypt were usually red.
The Ancient Greeks
Arrival of wine making process in ancient Greece is not well noted; many believe that wine manufacturing tradition was introduced to Crete by the Phoenician traders. Strong evidence of wine production have also been collected from Minoan Mycenaean cultures.
Wine was a very important trading article in Greece commerce. The Greeks were able to set up their colonies throughout the Mediterranean and this in turn improved the export of Greek wines in the region. The Greeks learned how to prevent wines from spoilage by adding different herbs and spices. Wine in ancient Greece was stirred in a glass before drinking.
Apart from trading, the Greeks used wine in the field of medical sciences. One of the well known medicine practitioners, Hippocrates, also known as the Father of Medicine studied wine extensively for its use in medical sciences, specially to reduce fever, convalescence and as an antiseptic. It must be mentioned here that the Greeks were equally aware about the negative health effects produced by consuming too much wine.
The Ancient Romans
The Romans discovered the viticulture (cultivation and study of grape growing) and oenology (the science of wine and winemaking). In the Roman Empire, wine formed a large part of their daily meals as water could not always be trusted to be safe and clean. During this period, wine making technology became more established with a significant impact on the Roman business. The Romans developed wooden barrels to store and ship wine, while bottles were used for the first time in the history of the wine world. The ancient Romans are also known to have dissolved pearls in wine for their better health.
With the expansion of Roman Empire, wine production expanded to all of its provinces. During the Dark Ages when Roman Empire collapsed and when Europe passed through social and political fracture, wine production was kept alive by the efforts of religious monks. Churches are known to have developed some of the finest vineyards in Europe.
Ancient China and Wine
Although wine was not much of a favorite of the ancient Chinese people, its production and drinking was popular in three different periods, mainly the Han Dynasty, Tang Dynasty and the Yuan Dynasty. In China rice wine was not as popular as the grape wine.
Wine in the Middle Ages and Today
Wine became popular in the Middle Ages, it was considered as a social drink for all occasions. In the northern regions of the Europe where no grapes were grown, beer and ale were predominant and in the Eastern part white vodka was the preferred drink.
America, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand that manufacture wide varieties of wines are considered as the New World Wine Producers. The products of these countries were not well known to the wine consumers until late in the 20th Century.
The industrial revolution in the 20th century has provided wine makers with new technology and innovation that has made making much more efficient. Considerable R&D advances in viticulture and oenology have helped the present day manufacturers to produce more varieties of wines of much lower cost.
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