History of Wines

- edited by Shivangi Srivastava

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Hello everyone! Being my first post in the first-ever blog, I thought of introducing to one of my favorite things in the world, wine. I don’t like to go deep into the topic but instead to keep this post short and simple for the readers.

It took me many years to make myself familiar with numerous wines and don’t expect you all to understand in one night, however, if you are in the hospitality industry for some years then it is quite unlikely that you have never tasted wine. Today, we will keep this fun and will only look into the origination of wine and how it evolved into one of the most lovable and prominent drinks of not only ours but all the generations before us.

What is wine?

For many people, it is a fermented grape juice, and to be honest, it is exactly that. However, if you come across a steward or a wine expert, they would disagree. Initially, even I like the idea how simple of a liquid it can be as all you needed was to mash some grapes with yeast and let them create an alcoholic drink for you. I thought it to be simple enough process, where nothing could wrong. To understand wine (which we will do in later posts, so stay tuned), we need to understand where it came from and what rich history it has.

Ancient references

Georgia (6000 BC), Iran (Persia) (5000 BC), and Sicily (4000 BC) claim to have earliest traces of wine, however, evidence supports an alcoholic drink being consumed in China (c. 7000 BC), rice and grape mixed beverage. And, Greece tasted its first drops of wine in 4500 BC through Balkans. The drink is kindred with its intoxicating and celebratory effects across time and places.

Viniculture, the process of growing grapes, was found in Georgia while conducting archeological finds dating it back to 6000-5800BC. Even the genetic evidence supports the production of wine elsewhere later than this. In 2017, the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia acknowledged Georgia as the birthplace of wine. One of the earliest known wineries from 4100 BC is the Areni-1 winery in Armenia.

The journey

Vitis Vinifera, the type of vines which promotes the wine growing grapes, was introduced around 3000 years back. However, China was mixing grapes with rice or indigenous fruits to create wine for over 6000 years earlier. This was confirmed by archaeologists by finding the jars of pottery containing tartaric acid and similar compounds found in wine.

Phoenicians were the ones responsible for the spread of wine towards the western world. As they travelled along the coast of Mediterranean they brought the culture to Egypt. Evidence was discovered on two Phoenician shipwrecks where wine was present in the cargo. There were 36 amphora of wine found near Tutankhamun’s tomb.

Wine has references all across compositions of Homer (8 BCE), Akman (7 BCE) and possibly others. China has also provided evidence of wine from second or first millennia BC. Chanakya, in his writings, has condemned the use of grape-based wines in India, called Madhu, around 4 BCE.

European Influence

Romans started the planting of vineyards near towns, saving shipping of wines over long distances. They also found out that by burning a Sulphur candle inside an empty vessel for wine, to keep them fresh. The wine had the support of the Catholic Church as it was essential for the Mass. French monks aged the wine caves and an English recipe for making Bastardo (bad) wine has survived until 19th century.

Traditional grapes from France, Italy and Spain were brought to the new world, which expanded the modern viticulture across continents. California and New Mexico were probably the first places where these grapes were brought by the French monks. Both the regions are now the oldest and the largest in production of wine.

Although the history and journey of wine are complex and long, it was a small effort to mark down some of the important events throughout history. You may like to read more about this topic in various books, journals or internet. Hope this fascinates you and get you to dive deeper into the topic. Stay tuned for more!

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