Benjamin Franklin once said: “Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions, and more tolerance.” Even though this quote dates only three centuries back, humans have been in agreement about the benefits of this elixir for millennia.
The history of wine is long and beautiful, and there are dozens of books you can read on the subject. This is not what we have for you today, but rather a brief summary with the most important and bizarre facts about winemaking in time. Next time you are at a wine tasting, show off your knowledge and be prepared for some surprised faces.
#1 The first wine
Sadly, there is no way to know the first region where the effects of wine were discovered. What we do know is where the oldest remnant of wine was found: the Henan province of China. This beverage would not taste similar to the wine we know today, as it was prepared with wild grapes, rice, honey, and hawthorn fruit.
#2 The first winery
As far as we know, the first winery was created in Armenia, in a mountain cave. Archeologists found there a grape press, fermentation jars, and drinking bowls. This is the first sign of organized wine production, probably connected with a funeral ceremony.
#3 Wine in the Egyptian culture
Egyptians also made their versions of wine, including the first kind of white wine that was found in Tutankhamun’s tomb. They used a lot of different ingredients to change the taste of wine, like dates, pomegranates, and figs.
Palm wine was an important element of royalty funerals, used for the preservation of the body. Historians believe Egyptians were the first to use wine as a medicinal potion in order to sedate women going through childbirth.
#4 Wine in the Greek culture
Ancient Greece loved wine so much that they appointed a “God of Wine” named Dionyssos. Even though getting drunk was frowned upon, wine was a key part of philosophical discussions and celebrations. The modern custom of “drinking to one’s health” originated in Ancient Greece, where the host of the party would drink the first sip of wine to show it’s not poisoned.
The Greeks were the first to notice the importance of origin in the taste of wine. They considered that regions like Thassos and Hios produced better wine than the ones in Samos.
#5 Wine in the Roman culture
Greeks introduced Romans to wine as well, which led to other important inventions and customs that we have today. They were the inventors of the wooden wine barrel, as well as the originators of using glass bottles to store wine. In contrast with the Greek society, Romans actually got very drunk during their parties.
Later on, the beverage became an essential part of Christianity, the leading religion of the Romans. This helped spread the wine production to areas that are now considered France, Germany, and Portugal. Eventually, other regions like South America, Africa, and Japan were introduced to wine through colonization.
Nowadays, wine is still a big part of our lives and the catalyst of many fond memories. There is nothing left to do other than to offer thanks to our ancestors that played such an important role in wine culture today.