History

The earliest evidence suggesting wine production comes from archaeological sites in Georgia and Iran, dating from 8000 to 5000 BC. The archaeological evidence becomes clearer, and points to domestication of grapevine, in Early Bronze Age sites of the Near East, Sumer and Egypt from around the third millennium BC.

The oldest known evidence suggesting wine production in Europe and second oldest in the world comes from archaeological sites in Greece and is dated to 6,500 years ago. The same archaeological sites in Greece also contain remnants of the world's earliest evidence of crushed grapes. In Egypt, wine became a part of recorded history, playing an important role in ancient ceremonial life. Wine was possibly introduced into Egypt by the Ancient Greeks. Traces of wine were also found in China, dating from the second and first millennium BC.

Wine was common in classical Greece and Rome. The Ancient Greeks introduced vines such as Vitis vinifera and made wine in their numerous colonies in Italy, Sicily, southern France, and Spain. Dionysus was the Greek god of wine and revelry, and wine was frequently referred to in the works of Homer and Aesop. Many of the major wine producing regions of Western Europe today were established by the Romans. Wine making technology improved considerably during the time of the Roman Empire. Many grape varieties and cultivation techniques were known. Barrels were developed for storing and shipping wine.

In medieval Europe, the Christian Church was a staunch supporter of wine which was necessary for the celebration of the Catholic Mass. In places such as Germany, beer was banned and considered pagan and barbaric while wine consumption was viewed as civilized and a sign of conversion. Wine was also forbidden in the Islamic civilization, but after Geber and other Muslim chemists pioneered the distillation of wine, it was used for other purposes, including cosmetic and medical uses.

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