Archaeologists working in Tbilisi, Georgia have made a fascinating culinary discovery—evidence of the oldest instance of wine-making, based on artifacts that are over 8,000 years old. After digging up earthenware jars that contained residue and chemical traces of wine once stored inside, the pottery containers, which date back to 5,980 B.C., were also decorated with images of grape clusters and a dancing man. In case you needed further evidence that alcohol has always played a role in getting the party started, there you go!
The jars come from the Neolithic period and were found in what was once the ancient villages of Gadachrili Gora and Shulaveris Gora. According to Stephen Batiuk, a researcher at the University of Toronto and co-author of the paper which described the findings, “we believe this is the oldest example of the domestication of a wild-growing Eurasian grapevine solely for the production of wine.” The wine-making process likely entailed crushing the all parts of the grapes, including their seeds and their stems so they fermented together. To this day, there is identical methodology that’s used to make wine in Georgia. It utilizes similar-looking vessels, (known as qvervi) which help aid the fermentation process.
Prior to this discovery, the earliest evidence of wine-making was found in Iran in pottery that dated back 7,000 years. Similar discoveries have also been made in Armenia, where ancient wine-presses have even been found. The first non-grape based wine is thought to be a fermented alcoholic beverage of rice, honey, and fruit discovered in China and dating to about 7,000 B.C.
Life back then was probably pretty rough, so it makes sense that wine-making eventually took hold as a pastime. As Batiuk noted in an interview with the BBC, “wine is central to civilization as we know it in the West.” We’ll drink to that.
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