WINE IN HISTORY

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Written By Roberto d'Amato

The Origins of Wine.

Many wine historians take it for granted that grapes have been present on Earth for two million years. Of course, techniques for producing wine came much later, in fact the first Greek and Latin wine presses and later modern crushers.

THE EARLIEST TRACES OF GRAPE SEEDS HAVE BEEN FOUND IN ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXCAVATIONS IN TURKEY, NEAR THE CITY OF CATAL HUYUK, IN SYRIA, NEAR DAMASCUS, IN LEBANON, IN BYBLOS, AND IN VARIOUS LOCATIONS IN JORDAN. STUDIES SAY THAT THEY COULD PROBABLY DATE BACK 8,000 YEARS BEFORE CHRIST, ALTHOUGH THERE IS NO MATHEMATICAL CERTAINTY.

THE FIRST CERTAIN INFORMATION, THANKS TO THE SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE OF CARBON 14, REFERS TO OTHER SEEDS FOUND IN SOUTHERN GEORGIA, ON THE SHORES OF THE BLACK SEA, WHICH CAN BE DATED WITH GOOD CERTAINTY TO BETWEEN 7000 AND 5000 B.C. CERTAIN RUSSIAN ARCHAEOLOGISTS ARE CONVINCED THAT THIS IS THE PERIOD OF THE TRANSITION FROM WILD TO CULTIVATED GRAPEVINES. TO SUPPORT THIS HISTORICAL EVIDENCE, A TERRACOTTA JAR DATING BACK TO 5000-6000 BC HAS BEEN FOUND ON DISPLAY IN THE MUSEUM IN TBILISI, THE CAPITAL OF GEORGIA.

The vessel, similar to the Greek pithos, bears decorations on its sides in groups of balls that could possibly recall the image of bunches of grapes.

The State Museum of Georgia preserves many objects related to vine cultivation, in fact there are finger-sized shoots wrapped in silver foil.

orgins of life-plant-grape-vine

The wood is perfectly preserved there is no absolute certainty about their use, probably the silver coated the vine to prove its value, and the vine thus accompanied the deceased to the grave to be replanted in another life. However, these finds date back to 3000 BC. the same time when much further south, in Mesopotamia, the Sumerian civilisation was born.

There are more than forty types of lives in the world.

There is a difference between a non-fruit-bearing vine (a prime example is the American vine that climbs everywhere but is not used for wine production) and the WINE-Bearing VITIS VINIFERA, the only one capable of condensing a quantity of sugar equal to one third of the weight per berry.

The plant's ideal area of development was originally in the temperate latitudes between the coasts Caspian Persians and Western Europe .

The fact is that no other plant in the world is able to adapt as well as the vine to changing climates, and this is one of the aspects that gave most food for thought to scholars who, in the end, established three basic lines of descent of modern grapes.

  • The first, coming from the Caucasus and Anatolia and christened VITIS VINIFERA PONTICA, is said to have arrived in EUROPE with the Phoenicians from what is now Lebanon and to have given rise to a considerable quantity of white grapes.
  • The second, called VITIS VINIFERA ORIENTALIS, would come from the JORDAN valley and would be the ancestor of the French CHASSELAS DORE', known in Switzerland as Fendant.
  • The third one, VITIS VINIFERA OCCIDENTALIS, would come from the NILE Valley (EGYPT) and would be the ancestor of most of the RED GRAPES known today.

We are in the realm of probability, and it is difficult to have categorical certainties given the thousands of years. However, it is certain that a vine strain transferred from one area to another can, in the field over a cycle of a few seasons, transform itself into something completely different by means of a budding mutation, which is possible due to the large number of genes that make it up and which manage to combine in such a way as to make that plant even unrecognisable.

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This is why there are now thousands of so-called autochthonous, i.e. locally born, grape varieties.

It is likely that these vines that have sprung up in various parts of the globe are distant descendants of ancient grapes that have been completely transformed by time and environmental conditions.

(A fascinating aspect of these continuous genetic adaptations of the vine is represented by the Terrano vine, which is widespread in a restricted area of the Trieste Karst and a few kilometres further west, in Friuli, becomes Refosco del Peduncolo Rosso and, transferred to Romagna, takes the name Cagnina; finally, there are those who recognise it in CAMPANIA and on the island of Ischia as PIEDIROSSO.

The curiosity is that Cagnina Romagnola is a dense, sweet red wine that is drunk as a desserte especially with chestnuts, whereas the other three mentioned above are consumed with roast and grilled meats, being dry red wines).

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Dom Roberto d'Amato Zaffiri of the Palaeologues of Teschen.

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