The History of Wine

The history of civilization is believed to have flourished during the Neolithic Period in an area we call the Fertile Crescent, a large region that takes in parts of Asia, Mesopotamia, and Egypt. Fed by the Nile River, Euphrates, and the Tigress River and warmed by the desert sun, the land became a virtual greenhouse.

Once man became somewhat civilized approximately 5000 B.C, he began cultivating wild fruits and grains and also had to invent ways to preserve the quantities of food now available. Processes from seeding the ground to sowing the harvests, preserving the bounty, storing it and serving it for food were tried and either repeated or eliminated. If it were good they tried it again.... if it spoiled then they put their heads together to come up with other means of keeping it.

Ironically, however, some foods were discovered to change for the better during the spoiling process. It was found that water added to grain would activate the wild yeast microorganisms in the grain and ferment. The fermented grain was accidentally found to make leaven bread, and if added to water made an intoxicating beverage we now call beer. At the same time it was discovered that fruits would break down in storage and the juices and sugars in them activated wild yeasts that fermented over time and created another beverage that we now call wine.

The most popular grains were wheat and barley, while the fruit of choice for the wine was the sumptuous grape. Stored in pottery jars and layered with Olive oil to keep out the oxidants, the wines were used to cook with, served at meals, used during rituals, given to visiting royalty, bartered for other goods, and placed in the graves of the dead to be taken with them in the afterlife. Wine, not beer, was considered the drink of the civilized, the refined, and the cultured. Socially and economically it was becoming one of the biggest resources civilization had. The wild grape vine, Vitis Vinifera growing wild in the Caucasus Mountains is responsible for over 3000 modern varieties of wine grapes. Eventually through travel and trade the grape vine was introduced to other regions. Wine making became an art form as vineyard after vineyard sprouted across Greece, Italy and Europe.

Wines became named for the regions where they developed, such as Bordeaux and Burgundy in France, Soave in Italy, and Rhine wines in Germany. Regions developed in Greece, Italy, France, Spain and Germany are still popular today for producing fine wines. Eventually vineyards named the grapes and the wines were also known by the variety of grape it came from. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir were just three of the most popular red varieties, while Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Riesling were some of the popular white grape variety. Today the regions have expanded to include wines from California, Argentine, New Zealand, and Australia to name a few.

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