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The origin of wine

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 TAGS:There are two myths about the origins of fermentation. The first is that the beer was "invented" or more accurately, discovered by chance. The second, that the wine was also an accident. It is highly unlikely that, given the elegantly simple and yet so complex brewing process, the beer was no more than a coincidence. The same goes for the wine, although it is likely that our ancestors watch how fruit juices changed when they were left to rot or decompose under certain conditions.

The reason why it is unlikely that the wine discovery was an accident is due to the discovery of grape seeds, or pips, which are found in abundance in the lower parts of Georgia - Russia. The seeds have been carbon- dated and are estimated to have around 7,000 years old. What makes these seeds exceptional is not only their wealth but their shape. The seeds that have come together to grow differ in shape and genetic information from the wild seeds.

All modern grapes grown are hermaphrodites, or have the characteristics of both sexes. This is because our relatives from the late Stone Age harvested only female vines. Grape vines when left by themselves, are male and female. The females bear fruit, while males pollinate. When primitive man arrived they saved the female plants and reduced males. Over time, only hermaphrodite’s vines were able to survive. One of the survivors of the experiments with the primitive man came called vitis vinifera, which is the species from which they sprang wine grapes. People in these early days were attentive enough to highlight this kind of grapes for its high sugar content. No sugar, no wine.

Why fermentation was not an accident? This is open to discussion, but the wine, like beer, could not have come into existence without matching certain conditions. Along with sugar it is necessary to have the yeast, and the grapes of the first men have gathered it in their skin, seemingly randomly, and its many types must be naturally creating yeasts. Now we know that some of these natural yeasts are not very good for wine and can only lead to fermentation as much, but probably did enough work to get that the primitive man came up where he had to arrive, which is, according to early writings on wine, the place of the gods.

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Dinastia Vivanco Reserva 2005

 

 

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Gran Feudo Chivite Reserva 2006

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Comments The origin of wine

From the Los Angeles Times (Section Unknown)
(January 11, 2011, Page Unknown):

“Ancient winery found in Armenia;
The 6,000-year-old winery in a cave in Armenia had all the necessary equipment, including a grape press, fermentation vats and storage jars. A UCLA-led research team believes the site produced wine for religious ceremonies associated with burials."

Link: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jan/11/science/la-sci-ancient-winery-20110111

By Thomas H. Maugh II
Times Staff Writer

A UCLA-led team reported Monday that it had discovered a 6,000-year-old facility in an Armenian cave that contained everything necessary to produce wine from grapes, including a grape press, fermentation vats, storage jars, wine-soaked pottery shards and even a cup and drinking bowl.

The ancient winery is at least 1,000 years older than any similar installation previously known, and it was found in the same cave where researchers in June announced the discovery of the world's oldest leather shoe.

The cave was abandoned when the roof caved in. All the organic material was preserved by a concrete-like layer of sheep dung that sealed everything in and prevented fungi from destroying the remains.

"Because of this unique preservation, we find all of these previously unknown but imagined organic materials" from the Copper Age, including grape seeds, withered grape vines and remains of pressed grapes, said archaeologist Gregory Areshian of UCLA's Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, the co-leader of the expedition. Details of the find were described in the January issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.

The wine press measured about 3 by 3 1/2 feet and was positioned to drain into a deep vat more than 2 feet deep. Similar to presses utilized as recently as the 19th century throughout Europe and in California, it was clearly meant to be used to smash the grape by foot. All around the top of the press, researchers found handfuls of grape seeds, remains of pressed grapes, grape must and desiccated vines. Botanists determined the species to be Vitis vinifera, the domesticated variety still used to make wine.

The vat would have held 14 to 15 gallons and was covered by a dark gray residue that contained the plant pigment malvidin, which gives wine its red color and stains clothing and carpets.

"The site is very important because it is so early and shows how advanced they already were," said biomolecular archaeologist Patrick McGovern of the University of Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the research. "The fact that winemaking was already so well developed in 4000 BC suggests that the technology probably goes back much earlier."

The cave is in a canyon where the Lesser Caucasus Mountains approach the northern end of the Zagros mountain range, near Armenia's southern border with Iran. Researchers do not yet know the identity of the people who lived in the region, but they clearly carried out extensive trade. Pottery shards from the cave came from as far away as central Iran and southern Asia, and most of the stone implements were made of obsidian from a source that was at least three days away on foot, even though a flint source was much nearer.

The oldest previously known evidence of wine dates to about 5400 BC and was discovered at a site called Hajji Firuz in the northern Zagros mountains, where McGovern has found jars with traces of tartaric acid crystals, a chemical marker for wine. The oldest previous evidence of grape seeds and other organic materials dates to around 3150 BC and was found in the tomb of the Egyptian king Scorpion I. The oldest wine press is much younger, found in the West Bank and dating to about 1650 BC.

Areshian said the team originally thought the cave was a habitat, but excavation over the summer indicated that it was a burial site. They now believe that production of wine in the cave was solely for religious ceremonies associated with burials and with honoring the dead.

"This wine wasn't used to unwind at the end of the day," Areshian said. For that, they probably had separate winemaking facilities outside the cave.

The research was sponsored by UCLA and the National Geographic Society.

-- AND SEE THIS ARTICLE --

From the Los Angeles Times “Main News” Section
(Saturday, December 11, 2004, Page A28):

“Hints of 9,000-Year-Old Wine is Unearthed in China”

Link: http://articles.latimes.com/2004/dec/11/science/sci-wine11

From Reuters News Service

Neolithic people in China may have been the first in the world to make wine, according to scientists who have found the earliest evidence of winemaking from pottery shards dating from 7000 BC in northern China.

Previously, the oldest evidence of fermented beverages dated from 5400 BC and was found at the Neolithic site of Hajji Firuz Tepe in Iran.

But in a study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Patrick McGovern of the University of Pennsylvania said laboratory tests on pottery jars from the village of Jiahu in Henan province had shown traces of a mixed fermented drink of rice, honey and either grapes or hawthorn fruit.

“This evidence appears to suggest that the Chinese developed fermented beverages even earlier than the Middle East, or perhaps at the same time,” McGovern told Reuters. “Maybe there were some indirect ties between the Middle East and Central Asia at that time in ancient civilization.”

McGovern, a molecular archeologist at the university’s Museum of Archaelogy and Anthropology, also analyzed samples of 3,000-year-old wine from hermetically sealed bronze vessels found in Shang Dynasty burial tombs from the Yellow River Basin.

The liquid was preserved because a thin layer of rust had sealed the bronze jars, he said.

A small sample of the remains of the wine, a clear colorless liquid, gave off a faint aroma similar to nail polish remover or varnish. McGovern said when he first smelled the wine it was floral scented.

One of the ancient jars contained a liquid that had traces of wormwood, suggesting the beverage might have been an early version of absinthe.
Bob Henry Bob Henry 28/10/2013 at 23:07

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