Earliest known evidence of winemaking found

Alicia Farmer
November 14, 2017

Scientists say 8,000-year-old pottery fragments have revealed the earliest evidence of grape wine-making.

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.

The world's earliest evidence of grape wine-making has been detected in 8,000-year-old pottery jars unearthed in Georgia, making the tradition nearly 1,000 years older than previously thought, researchers said Monday. Small clay bumps are clustered around the rim.

McGovern, who co-authored the 1996 Nature study that placed the earliest evidence for grape wine in Iran, said the search for the truly oldest artifacts will continue.

Previously, the oldest evidence of wine-making was credited to pottery dating back 7,000 years which was unearthed in north-western Iran.

"The grapes are crushed and the fruit, stems and seeds are all fermented together", he told the BBC. These two sites, Shulaveris Gora and Gadachrili Gora, dated back from 6000 to 4500 BC, and hid some remains of several ceramic jars. Georgia is one of the flawless environments for such undertakings, as it hosts about 500 species and varieties of grapes used only for wine, together with many others cultivated for fruits. Testing of the Georgian pieces showed evidence of a slew of acids from wine that had been made inside the erstwhile vessels. This was the moment when humans started involving in agricultural activities such as plant-growing and animal domestication. "Georgia is home to over 500 varieties for wine alone, suggesting that grapes have been domesticated and cross-breeding in the region for a very long time".

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"The horticultural potential of the south Caucasus was bound to lead to the domestication of many new and different species, and innovative "secondary" products were bound to emerge".

People in Georgia cultivated the Eurasian grapevine, Vitis vinifera, which likely grew abundantly under environmental conditions similar to modern-day France and Italy. The research suggests that one of the primary adaptations of the Neolithic way of life, as it spread to Caucasia (the area between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea), was viniculture.

"Eventually, drinking and offering wine became part of every aspect of life including medical practice, special celebrations, birth to death, everyday meals".

Wine has been used as a "social lubricant, mind-altering substance, and highly valued commodity" throughout the ages.

"The infinite range of flavors 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", he said.

"The Eurasian grapevine that now accounts for 99.9 percent of wine made in the world today, has its roots in Caucasia". Many designs are available.

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