World's Oldest Wine Found In Georgia

Pablo Tucker
November 14, 2017

Experts from University of Toronto in Canada and Georgian National Museum have found that wine-making as a practice began hundreds of years ago on the border of Western Asia and Eastern Europe.

Eight large ceramic jars were found to have residual wine compounds, researchers said.

A team of Gadachrili Gora Regional Archaeological Project Expedition (GRAPE), a joint undertaking between the University of Toronto and the Georgian National Museum found pottery fragments of ceramic jars at two early Ceramic Neolithic sites (6000-4500 BC) called Gadachrili Gora and Shulaveris Gora, almost 50 kilometres south of the modern capital of Tbilisi. The researchers said that the decorations possibly represent grapes.

Before this find, the earliest traces of wine-making were in pottery dating back to some 7,000 years ago, dug up in northwestern Iran, in the Zagros Mountains.

The shards tested positive for tartaric acid, which gives wine its tart flavor, and were dated to the early Neolithic period, 6000-5000 B.C. They also contained samples of grape pollen. In addition, the organic acids malic, succinic, and citric were found.

But the new findings push the date of origin back further.

"Pottery, which was ideal for processing, serving and storing fermented beverages, was invented in this period together with many advances in art, technology and cuisine", said Batiuk.

"We believe this is the oldest example of the domestication of a wild-growing Eurasian grapevine exclusively for the production of wine", said co-author Stephen Batiuk, a senior researcher at the University of Toronto.

"The domesticated version of the fruit has more than 10,000 varieties of table and wine grapes worldwide".

"Other sites in the South Caucasus in Armenia and Azerbaijan might eventually produce even earlier evidence for viniculture than Georgia", McGovern said. "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".

Some of these jars were pretty big - a comparable jar uncovered in a nearby site holds 300 litres (79 gallons), which could have held the contents of 400 wine bottles today.

Vitis vinifera cultivars, from Cabernet Sauvignon to Sangiovese, make up 99.9% of the world's wine production today.

Their results, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States, "provide the earliest biomolecular archaeological evidence for grape wine and viniculture from the Near East, at ca".

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