History of Wine

Wine

“The earliest archaeological evidence indicating wine that might have been made from domesticated vines comes from a pottery jar, dated between 7400 and 7000 years ago, which was found at the Neolithic site of Hajji Firuz in the northern Zagros Mountains.”
Cambridge World History of Food, Volume One (p. 730)

“Whilst the Greeks on the whole are responsible for initiating specialized viticulture which ultimately spread throughout the Mediterranean and into France and Germany, the vine is indigenous to Asia Minor and it was probably among the people of that area that viticulture had its true beginnings. We know from their texts that the Hittites were enthusiastic vine-growers and wine-producers. Viticulture was known in Mesopotamia as early as the third millennium BC, and was probably well under way in Egypt even before dynastic times. Although the vine is not indigenous there, pictorial representations appear in tombs of the earliest dynasties and the Pyramid Texts indicate at least six varieties. All large gardens grew grapes along with dates and figs, but the wine still had to be imported from Syria and Palestine, where viticulture was of primary importance. So wine remained in Egypt a drink for the rich, with beer and water for the peasants, until the arrival of the Greeks in the Hellenistic period. Mesopotamia too, whilst producing wind from a very early date, did not make sufficient for the masses…There is some dispute about the antiquity of wine-drinking in Crete and the Aegean, and it has been postulated that beer was probably drunk prior to wine…Wine-production in Italy is thought to have been initially introduced by the Etruscans.”
Food in Antiquity (p. 167-169)

“Unlike brewing, wine-making is a natural process which does not strictly require any human intervention–in fact, apes Often seek out fermenting fruits. To make wine, all that is needed is for the juice of a ripe grape to come into contact with airborne yeast. Wine-making, then, was not ‘invented’ by man: humanity’s role is a more modest one, to refine and guide…From prehistoric times onwards, wine could be made wherever people and grapes coincided. Yet there is little doubt that, of all the vitis species, vitis vinifera is the most suitable for wine. Vitis vinefera is believed to have originated south of the Black Sea in Transcaucasia, now the disputed territories of Georgia and Armenia, since this is the area that had the greatest variability of human population at the time and was therefore where humans were most likely to have started using it…Archaeologists assume that by 7000 BC previously nomadic farmers in the Near East had taken up grain-farming and stock breeding. Domesticating fruit trees involves a different kind of existence. The first wild fruits to be domesticated in the Near East were the fig, the date, the olive and the vine…Deliberate cultivation of fruit trees such as the vine therefore presupposes a fully sedentary way of life and a complete social and economic system, with one generation leaving property to the next. This stage was probably reached in the 4th millennium BC or possibly the 5th…However, cultivation of Vitis vinifera is not necessarily the a same thing as wine-making…Archaeologists have found remains of presses dating from the Bronze Age (i.e. c. 3000 to 1050 B.C.). Finds of empty grape skins together with pips and stalks at Myrtos, Crete, from the early Minoan period (i.e. c. 3000BC) are proof of wine-making as opposed to the production of table grapes. That the earliest piece of evidence is not a grape skin or a stalk or a pip at all; it is a wine stain. In the early 1970s a Persian amphora dating from 3500BC was found at Godin Tepe, Iran. Recent chemical analysis of the red stain inside has shown that it contains both tannins and tartaric acid, suggesting that the amphora must have had wine in it.”