With this first article dedicated to the history of wine we start from the prehistoric origins and then tell everything that happened from ancient civilizations to the present day.
Wine in Prehistory
When was the plant that produces the wine grapes born?
Vitis vinifera the so-called wine grape plant was already present throughout our planet even before the last ice age.
After the "great cold" between 20'000 / 10'000 BC its vegetative evolution was limited to territories with a more favorable climate, namely Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) and the eastern coasts of the Mediterranean, in an arc of territory called the "Fertile Crescent" of Southwest Asia, one end is located near the Nile valley in Egypt and the other in southern Mesopotamia beyond the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. A term coined by Egyptologist James Henry Breasted to identify "in an arch" these regions that saw the first rudiments of agriculture and human civilization.
In fact, it would have been Neolithic men (8000-4500 BC) who were the first to produce wine by cultivating vines and learning the process of natural fermentation. It was precisely in this period of prehistory that marked the end of the Stone Age where there were important innovations such as the advent of agriculture.
After the melting of the ice, the plant developed once again in the north, particularly in the Caucasus.
Are there historical scientific findings on the history of wine?
At present the oldest historical traces of the existence of wine have been found and documented by a scientific study led and sponsored by the National Wine Agency of Georgia started in 2014 which concluded the following at the end of 2017: "at least two sites in Georgia, Shulaveris Gora and Gadachrili Gora, had already been producing grape wine for half a millennium before Hajji Firuz Tepe in Iran, where the oldest grape wine in the Near East was identified (about 6,000-5,800 BC).
The same study also indicates that there are still many other regions worthy of study today, in particular the wide range of mountainous terrain bordering the Fertile Crescent to the north.
In reality this important analysis on the origins of ancient wine had already begun in 1998 thanks to a research conducted by Patrick Edward McGovern, professor of Anthropology, also known as the "Indiana Jones of ancient wines" who went to the National Museum of Shulaveris Gora in Georgia and examined some early Neolithic ceramics and found evidence in some fragments of the presence of grapes/wine, investigations and scientific investigations that lasted about 20 years.
The next in-depth study will be dedicated to another very important historical period: the Ancient Civilizations, when the vine took "the way of the sea".
Article written by Angelica Terzi / SellWine
Sources: PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America