Published: Tue, November 14, 2017
Life&Culture | By Rose Hansen

Talk about vintage: Pottery shards show 8000-year-old wine

Talk about vintage: Pottery shards show 8000-year-old wine

Previously, the oldest chemical evidence of wine in the Near East dated to 5,400-5,000 BC and was from the Zagros Mountains of Iran, said a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a US journal.

Georgia has enhanced its claim as the cradle of winemaking after new research showed it contains the oldest known evidence of wine culture, dating back 8,000 years.

Before stumbling upon these ceramic jars, the oldest evidence related to the existence of wine came from today's Iran, in the Zagros Mountains.

"The infinite range of flavours and aromas of today's 8,000-10,000 grape varieties are the end result of the domesticated Eurasian grapevine being transplanted and crossed with wild grapevines elsewhere over and over again", says archaeologist Stephen Batiuk from the University of Toronto.

Anyone with a case of fine Burgundy in the cellar should pay homage to ancient ancestors in Georgia, suggests new research.

"The wine was probably made similarly to the traditional qvevri method in Georgia today, where the grapes are crushed and the fruit, stems, and seeds are all fermented together", Batiuk said.

The earliest evidence of winemaking has been traced back 8,000 years to Georgia by an worldwide team of scientists.

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Whilst what little remaining liquid has certainly evaporated from the earthenware jars, researchers were still able to identify residual wine compounds that originated from two sites south of the Georgian capital of Tbilisi from around 5,980 BC. They have been working for the past four years to re-analyze archeological sites that were found decades ago.

The shards tested positive for tartaric acid, which gives wine its tart flavor, and were dated to the early Neolithic period, 6000-5000 B.C. They also contained samples of grape pollen.

In 2011, a wine press and some fermentation jars from around 6,000 years ago were found in a cave in Armenia, proving that wine-making is an ancient process.

"Wine is central to civilization as we know it".

"As a medicine, social lubricant, mind-altering substance, and highly valued commodity, wine became the focus of religious cults, pharmacopeias, cuisines, economics, and society throughout the ancient Near East", he said.

Several excavations performed in the country of Georgia in South Caucasus revealed that humans made wine a lot earlier than it was initially assumed.

Telltale chemical signs of wine were discovered in eight jars, the oldest one dating from about 5,980 BC.

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