March 17, 2018

World's Oldest Wine Found in 8000-Year-Old Jars

14 November 2017, 07:21 | Kevin Scott

World's Oldest Wine Found in 8000-Year-Old Jars

World's Oldest Wine Found in 8000-Year-Old Jars

Prior to this, the earliest evidence for grape wine in the Near East (Western Asia and the Middle East) was found in Iran, near the Zagros Mountains, dating to 5400-5000 B.C. The researchers said that the decorations possibly represent grapes.

"This early Neolithic date is quite surprising".

The fragments of ceramic casks, some decorated with grape motifs and able to hold up to 300 liters, were found at twoarcheological sites called Gadachrili Gora and Shulaveris Gora dating from the Neolithic period, about 50 kilometers south of the Georgian capital Tbilisi. Researchers at Washington University, US revealed that women who consumed more than five servings of red wine a month enjoyed higher ovarian reserve - a measure of a woman's reproductive health.

"The Eurasian grapevine that now accounts for 99.9 per cent of wine made in the world today, has its roots in Caucasia", Batiuk said, adding that the domestication of the grape "eventually led to the emergence of a wine culture in the region". "6,000-5,800 BC", McGovern and colleagues wrote in their study.

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

The discovery of these jars was published on Monday in the journal 'Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)'. The scientists there found traces of tartaric acid, which is a chemical signature for grapes and wine.

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The world's earliest non-grape based wine is believe to be a fermented alcoholic beverage of rice, honey and fruit found in China and dating to about 7,000 BC.

Although this may sound like the chance of a lifetime to sample an 8,000-year-old vintage bottle, the "wine" only exists as dried samples that must be painstakingly collected from the surface of pottery jars that had been buried in the villages as part of the aging and fermentation process.

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.

"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, co-author of the study from the University of Toronto.

Davide Tanasi, of the University of South Florida, said the results of the study were unquestionable and that the findings were "certainly the example of the oldest pure grape wine in the world".

The three-year research project was funded by the National Wine Agency of Georgia. "They have been saying for years that they have a very long history of winemaking and so we're really cementing that position".

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