The world's earliest evidence of grape wine-making has been detected in 8,000-year-old pottery jars unearthed in Georgia, making the tradition nearly 1,000 years older than previously thought, researchers said Monday.
Whilst what little remaining liquid has certainly evaporated from the earthenware jars, researchers were still able to identify residual wine compounds that originated from two sites south of the Georgian capital of Tbilisi from around 5,980 BC. According to the BBC, some of the jars were also illustrated with images of men dancing and clusters of grapes.
Previously, the earliest evidence of wine-making was from pottery dating from about 7,000 years ago found in north-western Iran.
"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 researcher at the University of Toronto.
"Wine is central to civilization as we know it in the West", the study's abstract reads. 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. Up until this week, this would have been a trick question; accepted findings dated the oldest known sample of grape-based wine to somewhere from 5,000 to as far back as 5,400 B.C. We don't know about flavor profiles, but we do know that it's time for a rewrite of the world's enology textbooks.
Large jars called qvevri, similar to these excavated ones, are still being used for modern-day wine-making in Georgia, according to David Lordkipanidze, director of the Georgian National Museum.
The ancient winemakers who were once the keepers of the jars likely crushed the grapes, including the stems and the seeds, and fermented the mixture.
The world's very first wine is thought to have been made from rice in China around 9,000 years ago.