Believe it or not, wine production has been proven to date as far back as 6000BC. Archaeologists have found cultivated grape seeds in the Georgia/Armenia/Turkey region. However, wine records only came about in ancient Egypt and ancient Greece. In addition, there are wine references in Chinese, Indian, and Persian history as well.
The Greeks and Romans Worshipped Wine
While wild vines grew all over the globe, the ancient Greeks pioneered winemaking throughout Europe using the Vitis Vinifera vines. They even had wine rituals for their wine god, Dionysus, as did the Romans for their wine god, Bacchus. These rituals found their way into Christian practices (Sunday mass, anybody?), cementing its place as a religious object today.
Wine Was Also Used to Disinfect Drinking Water
Interestingly, wine was also used to disinfect drinking water. Sanitation was in its infancy, and people could get sick from drinking water in ancient Greece and Rome. However, these civilisations would mix their water with wine or beer until it was safe to drink. Right through to the Middle Ages, vineyards were protected from invaders due to their religious importance and disinfectant properties. As such, vineyards were primarily planted around churches to keep them safe.
Who Introduced Wine Barrels and Better Quality Wine?
We can thank the Roman Empire for the technological advances resulting in a huge improvement in wine quality. For example, the Romans introduced wooden barrelling to preserve their product. That being said, Christia monks actively tried to produce finer wines and developed their skills, studying soil, plant diversity, and pruning methods. Eventually, monks would sell their wine, becoming important trading merchants in their economy, though they still kept the best wines for themselves. Eventually, the likes of Portugal and France would start selling wine abroad; England quickly became the largest wine importer.
Wine Increases in Demand
At the turn of the 17th century, good quality wine was in high demand from the European upper classes, who would pay vast sums for the best wine around. Some historians believe Romans introduced the idea of letting wine age. However, until the mid-1700s, people would drink wine in the same year it was produced.
As wine became more popular, people started looking for depth and complexity in their wines, which led them to seek out aged wines. In addition, this led to massive advancements in fine wine production. Wine producers developed yield reduction, maturation, and grape selection practices to produce exceptional wine for the upper class. Château Haut-Brion was at the head of this movement and was responsible for establishing Bordeaux as the wine capital of Europe.
As the industrial revolution came to the fore, more and more regions developed their own “viniculture”. However, people would buy grapes from popular vineyards and simply make the wine themselves. These businesses would then print labels and sell wine under their own brand, paving the wife for the mass-product and mass-enjoyment of wine that still carries on today.
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