History of Wine

The French maybe the world leaders on producing the perfect bottle of wine, but they weren’t the first to pioneer the wine making process.

For that we need to go way way back in time to the ancient civilisation of Mesopotamia (what we know today as Iraq). Here it is believed to be around 4,000BC that the people of Mesopotamia had little or no clean drinking water. It was then that some bright spark decided to try and turn water into wine, and they drank that instead of water – however, it must be noted that the wine produced would have been very crude in comparison to what we drink today!

Other Early Wine Makers

Further evidence of earlier wine making comes from archaeological findings dating back to 3,500BC. These findings showed Persians, with the aid of very fertile land, were a dab hand at viticulture (the growing of grapevines).

Soon after the Babylonians, Palestinians and Egyptians took up the interest in wine making. The Egyptians refined the process, which helped to improve the quality of wine, although it still had a long way to go.

The Phoenicians loved the alcoholic beverage so much they travelled across the eastern Mediterranean spreading their newfound knowledge.

By 1600BC Greece had got word of the events taking place in the Middle East, and it wasn’t long before the Greeks were at it, making their own plonk. The Greeks even looked at preserving the wine in clay pots. The Greeks were so enthusiastic about their new hobby they wanted to share it with other countries. They spread the word to France, Spain and Italy.

The Romans make wine

The Romans, not being ones to miss out on the latest craze, looked at trying to preserve the wine for even longer by storing it in wooden barrels.

The Romans were also keen to spread their political influence across Western Europe and tried to change peoples drinking habits from beer to wine. Most countries were happy to switch from beer to wine except Britain. Britain was happy to divide itself, with the working class quite content with their pints and aristocrats happy to savour a glass of wine.

The Dark Ages followed and brought with it a rise in Christianity, but wine making was forced to go underground and was the preserve of the monasteries, where monks produced wine ready for holy communion.

Brits had clean water - not that this stopped them

By the 16th century Brits had access to clean drinking water, but it didn’t stop their desire for either wine or beer. Over the centuries that followed developments in production, such as using corks, led to vast improvements in the quality of wine.

By the 18th century Britain and France were at war. This led to restrictions on French imports. Britain had to look to her colonies, Spain and Portugal to satisfy her growing taste for wine.

On the discovery of New Worlds, many Brits emigrated to these parts taking with them their knowledge of viticulture and wine making. The result was a new generation of world wines, which came from Australia and the Americas.

By the 20th century the wine making industry had undergone further advances, with the introduction of machinery making production faster.

The fermenting process was, and still is, forever being perfected, helping to create new varieties to tempt our taste buds into trying constantly evolving flavours.