Amazing Facts You Never Knew About The History Of Wine


If you’re like most people, you think wine came into the world during the Roman heyday: Big barrels of grapes being stomped into a juice and magically becoming the beautiful Cabernet we all know and love. It might surprise you to know that the drink of choice of toga-clad party goers was already thousands of years old. Check out these 20 amazing facts you never knew about wine history.

Wine Production May Have Started In Armenia

The oldest known location of organized wine production is Arnei, an Armenian village where archaeologists have found a wine press and fermentation vessels, along with other artifacts.

Wine Makes A Move

 Around 1200 B.C., wine made its way by trade across the Mediterranean. In fact, wine is mentioned early in the Bible in the book of Genesis. The mention comes in the form of a story of Noah indulging in too much wine.

Wine Becomes Symbolic To The Ancient Greek

The god Dionysus was named to honor wine. He was the god of the grape harvest and wine making as well as ritual madness and religious ecstasy. Wine became such a staple in Greek society that they soon made it a symbol for trade and religion.

Toasting With A Glass Of Wine Started With Actual Toast

In ancient Rome, wine was known to be excessively acidic. Drinkers would add a piece of toasted bread into their cup to help cut through the acid.

Drinking To Someone’s Health Had Dark Origins

In ancient Greece, the host of a party would drink the first cup of wine to show his guests that he was not attempting to poison them, thus, drinking to their health.

Ancient China Has Also Played A Prominent Role In The History Of Wine

The history of wine in China dates back to approximately 7000 B.C. in the Yellow River Valley where the oldest confirmed alcoholic beverage was discovered. It was a drink made of fermented grapes, rice, and honey.

The Ancient World Took Wine Fraud Very Seriously

The Code of Hammurabi is one of the earliest known writings that depicts the code of law in ancient Mesopotamia, with extremely strict punishments for wine fraud.

Do As The Grecians Do?

The Romans followed in the footsteps of the Grecians, incorporating wine into every area of their lives. As Christianity took hold and became the religion of the Roman Empire, wine was used as a central part of the sacrament.

Rome Brings Wine To The World

As the Roman empire grew and the troops took over lands in Europe, vineyards were planted in what is now France, Germany, Italy and many other modern-day European nations.

Wine Japan Finds Christianity and Wine

Portuguese Jesuits traveled to Japan to spread the word of Catholicism in the mid-1500s. Naturally, they brought wine with them. Interestingly enough, it took 300 years before the first vineyard would be planted in Japan.

Wine Making Is A Religious Experience

Monks from the Middle Ages are whom we have to thank for the wine making techniques used today that give us amazing flavors and varieties. Monk Dom Pierre Perignon experimented with new wine making methods and became the namesake of the famed Dom Perignon champagne.

Wine Comes To The New World

As Europeans began exploring the new world, they found an abundance of grape vines and referred to the land as Vinland because of it. As they experimented with making wine from the native grapes, they found the flavor to be distasteful.

Wine Finds Its Way To Africa

The Dutch East India Company decided to colonize South Africa and realized quickly the demand for wine. The sailors making their way back and forth from Europe created enough demand for wine that the South African settlers planted vineyards in Cape Province.

California Wine Is Born

A Spanish missionary, Junipero Serra, came to the New World to spread the gospel but is remembered today for opening a mission in San Diego, bringing the grapes that would create the area’s first wine.

 The First Sonoma Winery

Following Junipero Serra’s lead, Spanish missions spread across California. These missions brought with them Franciscan monks and their art of wine making. The first Sonoma winery opened in 1805.

Thomas Jefferson Tries His Hand At Winemaking

In 1785, Thomas Jefferson became the Minister to France and discovered a love and passion for French wine. Jefferson decided that America, specifically Virginia, was capable of producing a wine of equal caliber. At the urging of Ben Franklin and John Adams, Jefferson decided to try his hand at winemaking with Italian viticulturist Phillip Mazzei.

Jefferson’s Virginia Winery Had Prominent Shareholders

Among the 38 shareholders in Thomas Jefferson and Philip Mazzei’s Virginia Wine Company was George Washington. Washington contributed to the initial 2,000-pound sterling sum that was required to start the business endeavor. The initial business was not just focused on wine but was also intended to produce oil and silk.

The Gold Rush Brings Zinfandel To California

As Americans rushed westward to better their lives and increase their fortunes, they also brought with them a taste for a specific kind of wine made from a very specific grape. The Zinfandel grape, which took off well in the west coast climate, is now used to produce one of California’s most famous wines.

The Great French Wine Blight

In the 1860s, an aphid known as the phylloxera wreaked havoc on the French wine vineyards that had become so famous. Thankfully, a few decades earlier, the French had transplanted vineyards in Algeria.

 China Reclaims Its Place In Wine History

When China opened its economy in the 1980s, the import of French wine took off. It was only a matter of time before they began planting vineyards. In a mere thirty years, China has become the world’s largest producers and consumers of wine.

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