Wine: Our Greatest Accident

As odd as it may sound, the history of wine is not all that well known. Oh there are folks out there far more intelligent than I who have made rough estimations on the hows, wheres, and whys. But when you get right down to it, no body really knows.

For proof, all you need to do is take a look at the Food Timeline. Wine? Discovered roughly 6000 BC. Grapes? Domesticated about two thousand years later.

Huh?

When it comes to wine, it’s important to understand that there are two distinct crafts that have led to the production of the liquid: Viticulture, which is the cultivation and domestication of grapes and its vines; and Viniculture, the craft of making the wine from grapes. When it comes to learning about the history of wine, it’s key to understand the differences between these two crafts.

To clarify – Viniculture has been around far longer than viticulture. i.e. we’ve learned how to harvest grapes and make wines from them long before we learned how to grow grapes.

Wine, which nowadays is almost always associated with Europe, actually comes from a region in Northern Iran. Europe didn’t see wine until the Greeks and Romans had been able to grow vineyards in their own back yards. Prior to that, wine came from grapes picked from the wild.

The earliest evidence that has been found so far, comes from Hajji Firuz Tepe in the Northern regions of Zagros Mountain Range in Western Iran. But how was it discovered?

In all probability, by accident. It takes very little effort for the vitis vinifera to ferment. Crush it enough to allow the enzymes and sugars of the meat of the grape to mingle with the tannins from the skin, wait a few days, and voila! You’re well on your way.

So let’s say your picking grapes in the wild, and placing each one in your brand new piece of clay pottery. Pick enough of them, and you have the weight of the grapes on top crushing the grapes on the bottom. You go back home and place your pot on the table for everyone to pick at. By the time you reach the bottom of the pot, you notice that there’s a bit of a taste difference from those you had eaten from the top. If you have enough juice for a glass, you’d probably find that the juice made you feel a little light headed and a bit flush, not unpleasant feelings. Congratulations.  *hiccup*  You just had your first glass of wine.

Of course, if you waited a few more days in order to impress your friends who were out hunting, you’d quickly discover that the taste changed once again into something we would recognize as vinegar. This discovery was probably not as pleasant as the discovery of wine.

At any rate, I’m moving on to wines. As I read more and discover more, I’ll post about cooking with wine, pairing foods with wine and other such related stuff.


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