Wine History

Wine History

The Latin term vinum is used to describe wine, which is a drink that is created from grapes (species Vitis vinifera). It is created through the process of alcoholic fermentation of its juice or must. The action of yeast breaks down the natural sugars in grapes, forming ethanol and carbon dioxide. The sugar and acid in Vitis vinifera grapes are sufficient for fermentation to take place. However, several environmental factors such as climate, latitude, altitude, daylight hours and temperature also contribute to the overall flavor of the wine. 66% of the grape harvest is spent on wine production, while the rest is consumed fresh. Despite this, vineyards only occupy a small 0.5% of the world’s arable land. Most of the vineyards are located in places with a Mediterranean climate, so half of the world’s wine production is concentrated in just three countries: Italy, France and Spain. There are many accepted denominations of origin, such as Rioja, La Mancha, Albariño Oporto, etc.

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The term “wine” is only given to the liquid created from the total or partial alcoholic fermentation of grape juice, without added substances. In various legislations, only the fermented beverage made from Vitis vinifera is considered wine, although similar beverages are made from other species such as Vitis labrusca, Vitis rupestris, etc. Specialized knowledge in the differentiated science of winemaking is called enology (omitting the processes of grape cultivation). The science that deals solely with the biology of vines and their cultivation is called ampelology.


Viticulture and wine production seem to have started in the Caucasus (modern Georgia) and Asia Minor (now Turkey). Hence, as is often the case, the term must come from a language in the region, but it is not exactly known. In addition to the Indo-European family, especially among the Semitic languages, there are Arabic and Ethiopian Wain, Assyrian īnu and Hebrew yàyin, a proto-Semitic form *Wainu. The term is also present in the Kartvelian languages of the Caucasus (Georgian), the Indo-European languages of Asia Minor (Hittite and Luvite) and the Caucasus (Armenian). The word, along with viticulture, spread to the western Mediterranean, appearing in Greek, vēnë, and Latin vinum (from which the Spanish wine derives). From Latin it went to Celtic (Old Irish, Fin; Gallic, Gwin), to Germanic (Gothic language, Wein; German, Wein; English, wine) and to Slavonic (Old Slavonic and Russian, wine), and from Slavonic it extended to Lithuanian Výnas.

Another explanation is that the root of the word is related to vana (love) in Sanskrit, which is also the origin of Venus and Venera. This semantic relationship can be attributed to the age-old idea that wine has aphrodisiac properties.

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Archaeological findings suggest that wine was first created by man in the Neolithic period, in the area currently known as Iraq and Iran, due to the presence of Vitis vinifera sylvestris and the appearance of ceramics at that time. The oldest proof of the production and use of wine is a vessel from 5400 BC, discovered in the Neolithic settlement of Hajji Firuz Tepe, in the Zagros Mountains. This container contained a reddish substance believed to be wine. The oldest winery has recently been discovered, which dates back to 8000 BC, although the oldest wine estate is in Georgia. Later, wine was consumed more widely and was brought to Anatolia and Greece, and then to Egypt, which had already stood out for wine production during the Middle Kingdom (20th century BC).

The first Greek record of the care of vines, the collection of grapes and their pressing is the work of Hesiod The Works and the Days, from the 8th century BC. It is known that in ancient Greece wine was consumed by mixing it with water and storing it in goat skins.

Wine is a symbol of high esteem in Western society, with evidence of its production since the 3rd century BC. Since then, it has been a key element in any significant event or banquet and many of the great treatises and events of the Western world have been marked by it.

The cult of Dionysus or Bacchus (the god of the vineyards) is found in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, and the Bible includes several references to wine, including the story of the Last Supper of Jesus. It has been established that 4000 years ago, the Chinese people already knew about the grape fermentation process. It is also known that in the 14th century BC, wine was already being made in Egypt. The growth of Christianity caused a great development of viticulture, due to the need for wine in mass celebrations. The monasteries played a fundamental role in the introduction of viticulture and viniculture, and their production and extraction methods are reflected in priory wines, named after the word “prior”.

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