Science News

How Do You Fancy a Glass of 8000 Year Old Wine ?

Sun, 4th Jan 2004

Part of the show Obesity and Weight Gain

Do you fancy a glass of 8000 year old wine? The world’s oldest wine has been discovered- a vintage produced by Stone Age people 8000 years ago, which means wine is several hundred years older that we used to think. However, I’m afraid we won’t be able to have a taste of this ancient wine because no liquid wine remains, but scientists have found residues of wine inside 8000 year old ceramic storage jars in the former soviet republic of Georgia. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, led by Professor Patrick McGovern have found that Neolithic man used tree resin as a preservative for grape juice, so their wines could be kept for longer after fermentation. They think the wine could have tasted something like retsina, the resin-preserved wine that’s still popular in Greece. Prof McGovern’s team have also found evidence of the cultural and possible religious importance of early vintage wine. They’ve found the pottery jars used to store wine were decorated with tiny, stylised images of Stone Age people celebrating the vine. It’s possible that these images represent the prehistoric origins of what much later evolved into the wine cults like those of the Greek god Dionysus and the Roman god Bacchus.

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