History of Wine Making

The history of wine can be classified into four periods: the Ancient Times, the Dark Ages, the New World and the Modern Days.

Ancient Times

Mesopotamia. Evidence of grape cultivation and wine production were found dating as far back as 6000BC.

Egypt. Egyptians made first records of grape harvest and wine making. Wine was regarded a measurement of one's social status and is used for religious rituals.

Greece. Wine played an important part in the religion of ancient Greece particularly attributed to the god Dionysus. It was also regarded as a social drink for the privileged upper class.

Rome. Wine making technology was considerably improved and wine became available even to the common people.

China. The Chinese initially used wild grapes for their wine, cultivation of grapes did not start until after Zhang Qian's exploration to Western Kingdoms where he acquired vines. Wine from grapes was therefore considered exotic and were reserved only for the Emperor's consumption.

Dark Ages

Following the decline of Rome, the Christian Church became a staunch supporter of wine necessary for celebration of the Catholic Mass while Muslim chemists pioneered the distillation of wine for medicinal purposes.

Middle East. Alcoholic drinks were prohibited, but alcohol production particularly wine, have thrived. Egyptian Jews leased vineyards from the Fatimid and Mamluk governments and produced wine for sacramental and medicinal use. Christian monasteries in Levant and Iraq cultivated grapes and distributed their vintages to taverns located inside monastery grounds. Zoroastrians in Persia and Central Asia also engaged in wine production, though not much is known regarding their wine trade. However, they are known for their taverns.

Medieval Europe. Benedictine monks were one of the largest producers of wine in France and Germany, followed closely by the Cistercians. The Templar, and Carmelite orders were also notable wine producers.

New World

New World wines came to a rise and challenged Old World wines in the 19th century.

The Americas. Grapes were brought to what is now known as Latin America by Spanish conquistadores. Succeeding waves of immigrants imported grapes from France, Italy and Germany.

American wine was generally looked upon as inferior to European product until the latter half of the 20th century; New World wine began to gain respect after a surprising showing at the 1976 Baris Wine tasting.

Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Until late in the 20th century, Australia mostly exported to the United Kingdom while New Zealand kept most of its wine internally and South Africa was closed off to much of the world market due to apartheid.

Modern Days

Wine making developed greatly in terms of scientific background therefore allowing a lot of things that were once impossible to be accomplished. Wine makers of this day are now able to gain total control of every stage in wine making. The challenge now for wine makers is to produce wine for a much larger market without losing the character and distinct flavor of their wines. More and more countries are now producing more varieties of wine and advances in technology will ensure that such trend will continue.

Source of History of Wine Making by Mark Pollack – author of History of Wine Making article

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