Earliest Evidence Of Wine-Making Found In Ancient Relics From Georgia

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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.

Georgia, famous for its endless rounds of heartfelt toasts that can run into the wee hours of the morning, just unseated Iran as the home of the first wine produced from the Eurasian grape, popular with millions of wine-lovers around the globe.

Evidence of the world's oldest known winemaking has been uncovered in the nation of Georgia, with a chemical analysis of Stone Age pottery jars fingerprinting an ancient drop going back some 8,000 years.

The discoveries in Georgia knock Iran off its pedestal as the birthplace of the booze-up, with its wine dating back to 5,400-5,000 BC.

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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. The researchers said that the decorations possibly represent grapes. "6,000-5,800 BC", McGovern and colleagues wrote in their study.

According to Stephen Batiuk, a senior researcher at the University of Toronto who helped publish the findings via the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), this latest artefact find is a serious window into the earl days of wine making.

"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. The team also identified the presence of three other acids linked to grapes and wine.

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. 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 jars were found in the Neolithic villages of Gadachrili Gora and Shulaveris Gora, the oldest among them dating back to about 5980 B.C.

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It's awesome to think that 8,000 years ago the world's earliest winemakers were producing something very similar to the wine we consume today - and what's even more startling is it hints we probably had lots more in common with these ancient ancestors too.

Apparently, there was an abundance of Eurasian grapevine Vitis vinifera around the excavation sites, given the ideal climate for their growth much like wine producing area of France and Italy today.

"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 research associate at the University of Toronto.

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