Wine has been a part of civilization since antiquity. With its rich history and even richer taste, many people become fascinated with wine and want to learn everything there is to know about this beverage. Wine tours offer information on the history of winemaking and all it entails.
Wine Tours Offer a Look Into the Rich History of Wine
History reveals winemaking began in France, Italy, or Spain, or so it was once thought. Most believe this beverage was initially invented in France, though this is an arguable point. France is home to some of the most famous wine regions in the world, including Bordeaux, which is considered the wine capital of the world. With so many wine tours to choose from, learning about the history of wine takes visitors on a breathtaking journey.
When Did People Start Making Wine?
Many people believe wine started in France, but they are wrong. Archeologists have discovered winemaking first began in China in 7000 BC. Armenia and Georgia followed around 6000 BC. Archeologists discovered the world’s oldest winery in Armenia. Discoveries have also revealed early winemaking in the countries of Iran, Sicily, Egypt, Cyprus, and Greece. What many people think about wine is incorrect.
Understanding the Differences Between Ancient World, Old World, and New World Wine
The above wine terms refer to geography. Understanding these wine geography terms helps wine lovers comprehend the types of wines available. Before one can understand the history of wine, one must know these terms and their meanings.
Ancient World Wines
Although many argue wine originated in Italy, Spain, or France, these are not the birthplaces of ancient world wines. Ancient world wines originated in countries like China, Greece, Armenia, Iran, and Egypt. When speaking of ancient world wines, we are talking about the oldest wines in history.
Old-world wines originate from the regions traditionally known for winemaking, such as Europe, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean. Vitis vinifera is the name of the grapevine used in making old-world wines. This grape is native to the Mediterranean.
New World Wines
New-world wines come from many different regions. Experts consider wines from any other region, besides the ancient and old, to be new. Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Chile are but a few countries that make new world wines.
A Brief History of Winemaking
It would require many books to list a complete timeline and all the details of winemaking’s history. Below, you will find a condensed version that lists the highlights in the timeline so you can understand how each one led to the wines of today.
The First Confirmed Wine Was in 7000 BC
Dr. Patrick McGovern, the world’s top wine scientist, confirms the first alcoholic beverage was discovered in the Henan province of China in Jiahu. People used clay jars to ferment wild grapes, rice, and hawthorn fruit to ferment. The ancient Chinese used these alcoholic beverages for religious ceremonies and burials.
Wine in 6100 BC
Researchers uncovered the world’s oldest known winery in 2016 in the great mountains of Armenia. Archeologists found fermentation jars, a bowl, and a drinking cup in the cave. From testing, they gleaned these ancient people made wine from the same grape species used today in winemaking. This wine was unfiltered and likely tasted similar to a Merlot.
Wine in 3100 BC
Ancient Egyptians began making wine from red grapes in 3100 BC. They stored this wine in amphoras so it could ferment. Amphoras are clay pots with slender necks and two handles on either side.
Red wine resembles blood, making Egyptians hold it in superstitious beliefs. Egyptians used red wine in their many ceremonies, burials, and for medicinal purposes. Red wine was the most popular however, archeologists discovered white wine in Tutankhamun’s tomb.
Winemaking From 1200 BC to 539 BC
The Phoenicians were the people to move wine across regions. During their travels, the Phoenicians met Jewish people who started using wine in their ceremonies. In the Bible, Genesis is the first chapter to mention wine.
Wine in 800 BC
Because of the Phoenicians, the Greeks began drinking wine during this time. The Greeks filled wicker baskets with grapes and crushed them to make wine. Soon, the Greeks began transporting wine, just like the Phoenicians.
Winemaking from 200 BC to 100 BC
During this time, the Romans took over what the Greeks had done and used large barrels so they could produce more wine faster. Unlike some cultures, the Romans separated the skins from the juice before fermentation. Wine became accessible to everyone, including the rich and poor. Some wines were of poor quality and were mixed with vinegar or honey.
Winemaking in 306-380 AD
Between 306 to 380, Christianity and Catholicism were the top religions. These religions used wine in their ceremonies. The Roman Catholic Church used wine to represent the blood of Jesus during mass. Today, Christians still use the same symbolism, only wine is now substituted with grape juice.
Wine From 1492 to the 1600s
During the explorations of Christopher Columbus, wine production began spreading rapidly throughout South America. Missionaries opened the first winery in Chile during this period.
Winemaking From 1769 to the 1830s
Junipero Serra, a Spanish missionary, traveled to California and established San Diego’s first vineyard. He and his fellow monks planted mission grapes throughout the countryside, which is why this grape is still a part of California vineyards today.
Wine in the 1830s
James Busby took grapevine cuttings from Europe and traveled to Australia to plant them. He eventually moved cuttings from Australia to New Zealand, establishing the country’s first vineyard.
Wine in the 1980s to Today
It is strange to come back to where it all began. In the 1980s, China once again saw a dramatic increase in winemaking. Today, there has been a dramatic decrease in winemaking in the country. Antarctica stands as the only country with no vineyards.
Winemaking Continues to Rely on Old Standards
Although advances in winemaking have changed how experts create bold wines, most winemakers still rely on the old ways with a little modern ingenuity. Today’s wines are better than ever, creating new wine lovers with each glass. Learn more about the history of winemaking by scheduling a tour.