Humans have been drinking wine for at least 8000 years

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Before this find, the earliest traces of wine-making were in pottery dating back to some 7,000 years ago, dug up in northwestern Iran, in the Zagros Mountains. The researchers said that the decorations possibly represent grapes.

Evidence of the world's oldest known winemaking has been uncovered in the nation of Georgia, with a chemical analysis of Stone Age pottery jars fingerprinting an ancient drop going back some 8,000 years.

Georgia, using the same Eurasian grape variety, Vitis vinifera, remains a major wine-growing region today.

"We believe this is the oldest example of the domestication of a wild-growing Eurasian grapevine exclusively for the production of wine", said Stephen Batiuk, research associate at University of Toronto.

Georgia, which has a long heritage of winemaking, is positioned at a crossroads between Western Asia and Eastern Europe, and the grape identified in jar fragments excavated from two Neolithic-era villages is Vitis vinifera - aka the "Eurasian grapevine", from which almost all kinds of modern wine originate.

The newest methods of chemical extraction confirmed tartaric acid, the fingerprint compound for grape and wine as well as three associated organic acids - malic, succinic and citric - in the residue recovered from eight large jars.

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GRAPE represents the Canadian component of a larger worldwide, interdisciplinary project involving researchers from the United States, Denmark, France, Italy and Israel. According to the BBC, some of the jars were also illustrated with images of men dancing and clusters of grapes.

"Alcohol had an important role in societies in the past just as today", he said. Experts from University of Toronto in Canada and Georgian National Museum have found that wine-making as a practice began hundreds of years ago on the border of Western Asia and Eastern Europe.

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

But the Chinese drink used a wild grape that has apparently never been domesticated, while the Georgian wine used a Eurasian grape species that did undergo domestication and led to the vast majority of wine consumed today, said researcher Patrick McGovern.

"Other sites in the South Caucasus in Armenia and Azerbaijan might eventually produce even earlier evidence for viniculture than Georgia", McGovern said. However, these traces dated back from 5400 to 5000 BC, also in the Neolithic period.

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