Science

Evidence of 'World's Oldest' Grape Wine Dug Up in Georgia

Evidence of 'World's Oldest' Grape Wine Dug Up in Georgia

Previously, the oldest chemical evidence of wine in the Near East dated to 5,400-5,000 BC and was from the Zagros Mountains of Iran, said a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a USA journal. A team of researchers digging in Georgia has found that origin of the practice could be around 6000 BC, 600-1,000 years earlier than what was determined earlier. "Georgia is home to over 500 varieties for wine alone, suggesting that grapes have been domesticated and cross-breeding in the region for a very long time".

(A) Representative early Neolithic jar from Khramis Didi-Gora.

Scientists say that wine jars, dating back to 6000BC, have been unearthed in the villages of Gadachrili Gora and Shulaveris Gora, about 50km South of Tbilisi.

While there are thousands of cultivars of wine around the world, nearly all derive from just one species of grape, with the Eurasian grape the only species ever domesticated.

To explore whether winemaking was indeed a part of life in the region, the team focused on collecting and analysing fragments of pottery from two Neolithic villages, as well as soil samples. "6,000-5,800 BC", McGovern and colleagues wrote in their study.

"We have an uninterrupted history of wine in Georgia - the jars found in the Neolithic period are similar to the vessels we still use today", said Lordkipanidze.

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The latest finds were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Their chemical analysis "confirmed tartaric acid, the fingerprint compound for grape and wine", they said in their report.

The oldest of the jars was dated at about 8,000 years old, which makes it the earliest artifact showing humans consuming juice from the Eurasian grapes. As far as the first fermented beverage goes, China holds that record with a drink that McGovern traced back to 7,000 BC. Moreover, there are none of the telltale signs that the pots were used for syrup-making, while grape juice would have fermented within a matter of days.

The ancient people of Georgia may have stored 300 liters of wine in the massive jars measuring about three feet tall with small clay bumps that are clustered around the rim.

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".

"We believe this is the oldest example of the domestication of a wild-growing Eurasian grapevine exclusively for the production of wine, "Phys.org quoted Stephen Batiuk, a senior research associate in the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations and the Archaeology Centre at the University of Toronto, and co-author of the study".


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