Millions, perhaps billions, of people throughout the world drink wine. And a lot of them do it right here in France. In fact, plenty of people travel to Paris just to sit in cafe and drink the French wine. Wine is a common drink that comes in many different varieties. Wine has a fascinating history that most wine drinkers don’t know.
Humans have made wine for thousands of years, even though they didn’t have those handy little counter top wine fridges like we have today. In the country of Georgia, archeologists have found evidence of wine jars up to 8000 years old. Other sites have shown evidence of wine-making dating to as early as the late Neolithic period in Europe.
In China, there is evidence that a fermented beverage made of grapes and rice was produced around 7000 BC. However, due to the age of the jars found, there is no conclusive proof that grapes were used. Other fruits, such as hawthorn, might have been used to make the drink, which would mean it was not truly wine.
We can thank the Phoenicians for spreading wine culture around the Middle East. They started from their base of city-states and moved westward to Lebanon, Syria, and Israel.
The earliest evidence of wine in India dates to about 300 BC. There are writings from the court of the Emperor Chandragupta Maurya condemning the frequent use of alcohol by the Emperor and others in his court. The writings mention a type of wine called madhu.
True wine is made from fermented grapes, however, other types of fruit can be made into what are called “fruit wines.” Most other types of fruit lack some of the specific qualities which grapes possess, making it more difficult to turn them into wine. Historically, then, wine is made from grapes unless other types of fruit grow in much greater abundance in a specific area.
Some beverages called “wine” are made from starch-based sources, such as barley or rice. Rice wine is common in Japan, where it is called sake. However, these are not truly wines either. The word wine in these cases refers more to the similarity in alcohol content than to the production process. In taste, these drinks more resemble beer than fruit- or grape-based wine.
This is only a very brief look into the long and fascinating history of wine. There is lots more to learn about wine and its history if you want to learn. There are many different varieties of wine grapes, for example, which produce different flavors in the wines they produce. Any vineyard, wine enthusiast, or wine and spirits store would be happy to help you learn more about this delicious beverage. Now, if only those wine bottles were easier to open for my old hands!