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Kim Tyrer
 
27 April 2013 | Stories | Kim Tyrer

History of Wine

The history of wine  spans thousands of years and is closely intertwined with the history of agriculture, cuisine, civilisation and humanity itself. Archaeological evidence suggests that the earliest wine production came from sites in Georgia and Iran, dating from 6000 to 5000 BC.

In medieval Europe, following the decline of Rome and therefore of widespread wine production, the Christian Church was a staunch supporter of the wine necessary for celebration of the Catholic Mass. Whereas wine was also forbidden in medieval Islamic cultures, Gerber and other Muslim chemists pioneered the distillation of wine for medicinal  purposes and its use in Christian  libation was widely tolerated. Wine production gradually increased and its consumption became popularised from the 15th century onwards, surviving the devastating Phylloxera louse of the 1870s and eventually establishing growing regions throughout the world. 

Wine was common in classical Greece and Rome and many of the major wine producing regions of Western Europe today were established with Phoenician and later Roman plantations. Wine making technology, such as the wine press, improved considerably during the time of the Roman Empire; many grape varieties and cultivation techniques were known and barrels were developed for storing and shipping wine. 

The archaeological evidence becomes clearer and points to domestication of grapevine in Early Bronze age sites of the Near East, Sumer and Egypt from around the third millennium BC. Evidence of the earliest European wine production has been uncovered at archaeological sites in Macedonia, dated to 6,500 years ago. These same sites also contain remnants of the world's earliest evidence of crushed grapes. In Egypt, wine became a part of recorded history, playing an important role in ancient ceremonial life. Traces of wild wine dating from the second and first millennium BC have also been found in China.

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