The origin of wine and its history

26/01/2021 | Actualité @en

This month, we learn about the origin of wine and its history. Today, when we think of wine, we automatically think of France! Certainly, as good French we like to defend our culture and our wealth. We are one of the most important countries when it comes to wine production. But, as we are curious… We looked at the origin of wine and its history!


Did you know that? A little history…

Grapes had existed for centuries in the form of wild fruit. It was around 6000 BC that we began to cultivate the vine. But where did it start? …

… In the Caucasus! Yes, it is the Georgians our precursors on the domestication of the vine!


And then what?

The vine will spread little by little to Egypt, then to Greece, southern Italy, France and Spain.

In France, it was in Massalia (Marseille) that the first vines were planted around 600 BC. It is the Romans who will colonize the rest of the France (they will impose the culture of wine and olive oil on the Gauls).

On the east side, the vine will spread to India, Central Asia and then China. It was not until the 13th century that it appeared in Japan.

The wine will have a great influence on all its surroundings: geography (because the vine is developing rapidly), the economy (the wine will very quickly be exported from country to country), history (from a mythological point of view: 3 gods of osiris wine in Egypt, Dyonisos in Greece, Bacchus among the Romans; and religious: the monks will cultivate the vine), art (we find from the beginning sculptures, engravings, paintings representing wine cups), traditions, medicine (red wine is good for health), landscapes (many wine landscapes are classified as World Heritage by Unesco, see our article on the subject) and etc.

The place of Christianity in wine

Between the seventh and tenth centuries two trends will appear: the extension of Islamism in the Mediterranean on the one hand, which will prohibit the consumption of alcohol and the development of Christianity in Northern and Western Europe on the other hand, which will promote the extension of viticulture.

It was the monks and lords who cultivated the vine, but until the sixteenth century they did not seek to improve winemaking.

It was not until the seventeenth century that the European vineyard changed and the notion of quality came into play.

Zoom on the Georgian vineyard, cradle of the cultivated Vitis Vinifera species, and Qvevri

Georgia is the birthplace of wine, where it all began. It alone has about 500 indigenous grape varieties (only 30 of them are actually used for wine). There is also a diversity of soils and climates very interesting for wine making. The wine there is sacred. It is omnipresent and represents an ancestral cult.

Georgia is particularly known for its manufacture of qvevri, which are buried clay wine jars. They were previously used to preserve cereals, melted butter, grape brandy, to marinate vegetables but they remain above all wine jars. In general, their capacity varies from 2-3 liters to 6000 – 8000 liters.

Qvevri has many advantages: maintaining a natural stable temperature (thanks in particular to the fact that it is sealed with lime mortar), which plays an important role in preservation and alcoholic fermentation; the wine is more stable and there is no need for industrial yeasts (thanks to their specific way of fermentation and maturation of the wine). Its shape makes it possible to separate the juice well from the seeds and the dregs that naturally fall into the bottom.

Thanks to its passage in qvevri, the wine will be endowed with natural stability, a great potential for aging. It will be crystal clear with distinguished tastes and aromas, a high level of tannins and alcohol.

An essential point on the technique of vinification in a qvevri: we leave the marc (which is called chatcha) in the wine during and after its fermentation. And this, even for whites (which makes them more bitter)!

Finally, a qvevri wine defined by experts is a fermented wine aged in qvevri for 3 to 6 months, with or without marc.

See you soon for new news!


READ ALSO from the Ateliers de Bacchus

The grape variety: its origins

The origin of the cannelé

The manufacture of cork stoppers

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