Wine is an ancient drink that has been enjoyed by humans for thousands of years. It’s one of the most popular drinks in the world today, but it wasn’t always that way. Early humans discovered wine by accident when they stored grapes in clay pots and found them fermenting into a sweetened beverage after some time had passed. This discovery lead to what we now call winemaking, which may have been first invented in Egypt or Greece depending on your source. The Greeks were known for their love of wine, so much so that even the word “symposium” comes from their language!
Wine was being made in the Middle East thousands of years ago.
The exact origins of wine are unclear, but it’s one of the oldest alcoholic drinks in the world. The earliest evidence we have for wine production comes from Asia Minor and Mesopotamia, where it was an integral part of early societies. Wine has been found at sites dating back to 7000 BCE in Georgia and Armenia, and 9200 BCE in Armenia as well.
Wine making later spread throughout Europe, with sites like Vix having been inhabited by people who were making wine between 4100–4100 BCE.
Egyptian pharaohs were drinking it in 4000 BC.
Eating, drinking and making merry is a time-honored tradition in most cultures. But thousands of years ago, it was a sign of wealth and status. While beer has been around since the Neolithic era (around 9500 BC), wine didn’t appear until around 4000 BC in the Middle East.
Wine was made by fermenting ripe grapes—and used for religious ceremonies as well as medicinal purposes. It wasn’t just reserved for royalty; anyone could drink the stuff!
Ancient Greeks invented wine production.
The ancient Greeks were the first people to write about wine. They are also widely considered to have developed the first wine production methods and culture. They also invented a trade network that spanned much of Europe and Asia, as well as an extensive industry surrounding it.
In Europe, the first vineyards were planted in the Middle Ages; by 1000 AD, there were 740 wine villages in France alone.
The first recorded vineyards were planted in Europe in the Middle Ages. In France, there were more than 740 wine villages by AD 1000. For centuries, France remained the leader when it came to wine consumption and vineyard area covered—it was only beaten out by Spain during the 16th century.
In England and France, a tax on wine was instituted during the 12th century.
- In England and France, a tax on wine was instituted during the 12th century.
- The tax was introduced to raise money for the crown in both countries, but it wasn’t well-received by either country’s citizens. In fact, a popular rhyme in England went: “A gallon of ale is a dish for a king; A quart of beer is a dish for a clown; But if you putteth ale or beer into any other vessel than their own … then you are worse than an infidel.”
- It was called “tonnage” because it taxed wine by tonnage (a measurement that represents volume). This meant that if merchants were transporting large quantities of wine with their ships across the English Channel from France or Spain—where the taxes were lower—they would have to pay more under this new law.
Home winemaking became popular in Europe during the 16th century.
Home winemaking became popular in Europe during the 16th century. And it was good! By this time, wine was relatively cheap and easy to make. You could buy grapes from local farmers or even grow them yourself, crush them and add yeast to create alcohol—and then eventually add water and let it sit for several months.
Home brewing was especially popular in France, where peasants were forbidden by law from making beer because they couldn’t afford the yeast required to brew it properly (or at all). But they bought cheap grapes instead—and made delicious wine!