Wine is older than recorded history; its evidence emerges with Eastern civilization itself, found in tablets, papyri, and hieroglyphics. While we do not know all the specifics of ancient wine, we can trace its origins and understand how wine has come to be such an integral part of modern society.|
Wine most likely began being made in Mesopotamia or Caucasia, perhaps as early as 6000 BC. By 3000 BC, wine making had spread to Phoenicia and Egypt; a thousand years later, wine making grapes crossed the Mediterranean, and spread slowly into Italy, Spain, Portugal, and France. The Romans, in all their conquering glory, brought wine grapes along with them across Europe, so that they could properly celebrate their victories. By 100 AD, vineyards were established across the European continent, as far north as Britain.
Trade comes along naturally with conquest. The European colonizers of the 16th century brought wine grapes to the New World, from Australia to Virginia to Peru. (The grapes fared well in some spots, and less well in others — though wine is still produced today in many world regions, only some have the blessing of a good sun, soil, and climate combination. New World countries have learned, and are still learning, what their Old World counterparts had to learn a thousand years earlier: what grapes are best in which regions, and what wine making techniques work best with each year's harvest.)
Interestingly, it is trade with the New World that made Old World wine better to drink. Up until the 17th century or so, wine held the unique position of being the only wholesome, potable, storable beverage. Poor sewage systems of the Middle Ages meant water in cities was unsafe to drink; ale with no hops went bad very quickly. Wine was, by default, the drink of very limited choice. But with the advent of the 17th century, trade with new regions meant the introduction of beverages like hot chocolate (from Central America), coffee (from Arabia), and tea (from China). Wine needed to evolve from being a drink that "at least wouldn't kill you" to something that was delicious, interesting, and desirable in its own right.
Wine as we know it today, with its glass bottles and wooden corks, did not develop until the middle of the 1600s. Wine, since the Roman era, had been stored in barrels; pottery jugs or leather bags were simply used to carry wine to the table. The progression of glass making technology and wooden corks could be likened to the advent of synthetic corks, screw tops, and boxed wine. Though these changes all seem to lack the elegance of now traditional bottles, they are wonderful methods of storing wine better — in the case of boxed wine, for example, helping an opened wine last longer, by reducing its exposure to oxygen.
Learn more about wine and grape types.|
Learn more about pairing food and wine.
Learn more about making personalized wine making.
The original document is available at http://www.vintnerscircle.com/uncorked/HistoryOfWine