08/30/2021 Jaume Pujol, Abadia de Poblet winemaker
21 July 2022
Federico Oldenburg, journalist specializing in wines
Wine is so linked to our culture, landscape, and way of understanding life that it seems that it has always been there. But like all things, there was a first time. And in this case, according to historians, the first human who had the idea to put fermented grape -with all the different grape varieties that exist- must to his mouth made that decision about eight thousand years ago.
Certainty, intuition, or fortuitous accident? We’ll never know. What we do know is that this action has turned into something that has been developed for millennia, until becoming an expression of a tradition —of a culture— and also an industry with a significant economic impact in the producing regions and countries. Of course, many centuries had to pass for winemaking to take hold as such. Nowadays there are different types of wine, from organic wines to vegan wines. With important designations of origin such as Rioja wines.
Although it is true that to enjoy wine it is not necessary to know its history, it never hurts to have some precise notions about its origins and the framework in which its culture and tradition have developed over the centuries.
According to the most recent findings, the birthplace origin of wine is Georgia, where archaeological remains dated between 8100 and 6600 BCE have been found.
Although for many years researchers associated the origin of wine with the civilizations of the Middle East, it has recently been discovered that the true origin of wine is Georgia, thanks to residues found in Neolithic ceramics discovered in the South Caucasus.
In addition to rewriting the matter of origin of wine, these new findings also provide data on the antiquity of the drink, which is much more ancestral than previously assumed. In fact, the oldest evidence of the production of wine to date went back to 5400-5000 BCE, in the Zagros mountains in Iran; however, the excavations carried out in Georgian territory (at Gadachrili Gora and Shulaveris Gora, located about 50 kilometers from the country's capital, Tbilisi) date to between 8100 and 6600 BCE.
The results of these studies were published in 2017 in the American journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), and they had a great impact on the wine world and among archaeological experts.
Stephen Batiuk, from the Center for Archaeology Studies at the University of Toronto, Canada, said that "these vestiges are the oldest that have been found in Eurasia which demonstrate the purpose of the domestication of wild vines with the sole aim of producing wine at harvest time."
What’s more, as analysis of the residues found in eight jars (each of which were several millennia old) revealed the presence of tartaric acid (the chemical "signature" of wine), in addition to three other acids related with winegrowing (malic acid, citric acid, and succinic acid), Patrice This, Research Director at the National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) in France concluded that "this all demonstrates that Georgia was the cradle for the domestication of vines and for viticulture."