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Ancient wines

antique wines (GB)

6,000 if not 8,000 years ago vines Cultivated for the first time and producing wine, as evidenced by grape seeds found in Asia Minor (Anatolia in what is now Turkey), remains of wine presses and numerous antiquities wine vessels and wine motifs on artifacts from many areas.

Cradle of viticulture

It is of course no longer possible to determine where the first wine was actually drunk. Probably played a major role in the emergence. Considered the cradle of wine culture Transcaucasia (Parts of Armenia. Azerbaijan and Georgia ), where the oldest archaeological finds were made, as well as the advanced civilizations in Mesopotamia (mostly today Iraq, as well as parts of Syria and the Turkey ), in the upper Nile basin ( Egypt ) and in the Jordan valley ( Israel and Jordan ). According to the report in the Bible Noah landed with his ark at the end of the deluge Ararat and became a wine grower. By the way, according to the latest research, the origin of the cultivated grapevine or the viticulture culture is in southeastern Anatolia (arrow).

Antique wines - Map with origin of the vine (Southeastern Anatolia)

The ancient civilizations of the Assyrian. Egyptian. Babylonian and Persian have already dealt with winegrowing quite professionally. Many passages in the Bible and numerous writings and murals of many ancient civilizations from these domains report about it. Many of their knowledge, techniques and grape varieties should then first of all in the Mediterranean area in the course of ancient history Greeks and later Etruscans. Israelites. Celts (Gaul) Phoenicians and Romans.

Painting from the tomb of Chaemwese in Thebes around 1450 BC Chr. With motifs of the vintage and winemaking - Image 1

This painting comes from the tomb of Chaemwese in Thebes (Upper Egypt) around 1450 BC. Chr. Among other things, the vintage, fermenting in containers, and loading a ship with amphorae shown.

Painting from the tomb of Chaemwese in Thebes around 1450 BC BC with motifs of the vintage and winemaking - Image 2 and 3

Viticulture in ancient Greece

The origin of European viticulture is mainly in Greece. The poet Homer (8th century BC) reports in his Iliad about wine as a home drink for his epic heroes. Already in the Mycenaean culture in the 16th century BC BC (Mycenae = northeastern Peloponnese, Province of Argolis) there was targeted viticulture. This is evidenced by archaeological finds in the old palaces, among other things one discovered cellars with wine remains in storage jugs and grape seeds. The one on the island Lesbos born greek philosopher Theophrastus (370-287 BC) already described the necessary coordination of vine. soil type and climate, Common vine training systems were the pulling of the vines on trees, the bush form or the flat ground education. It was known that there was a corresponding pruning beneficial to earnings and wine quality affects.

Parthenon Acropolis

In addition to pure enjoyment, wine also had an important religious and social role in ancient Greece. Both symposia (Drinking) the common wine enjoyment among men achieved a real cult character and was an indispensable part of that time drinking culture, The wine was just as important from a health point of view, medical applications for the purpose of antisepsis, pain relief, digestion or "to balance the juices of the body" are often mentioned. In many medicines of the famous doctor Hippocrates (460-377 BC) Wine played an important role. The best qualities came from Aegean islands, Above all, these were Chios (Khios) - which is considered Bordeaux of ancient Greece - as well Rhodes. Samos and Lesbos, The wines from the Chalkidike peninsula ( Macedonia ) popular. For many of the then city-states, viticulture was of great economic importance and wine was exported to the entire Mediterranean area, but above all to Rome and Egypt.

When the Greeks colonized the Mediterranean countries between 1000 and 600 BC, they brought along their wine-making techniques and their local grape varieties. When they crossed Sicily to Italy in today's two regions Calabria and Campania came, they gave the country its name Oinotria, Instead of today's location Ciro (today's DOC) the city was in Calabria Krimisa, according to legend, the wine of the Olympic champions was produced here. The names of today's grapes such as Aglianico. Cesanese. Falanghina. Greco Bianco. Grechetto. Limnio and Malvasia indicate a possible Greek origin. Many of the Greek viticulture methods were developed by the Celts (Gauls) and Romans. However, there were also Roman developments, such as the addition of sea water or salt during the fermentation in order to make the wine more supple, to avoid a moldy taste or spoilage and to improve the lack of acidity in the Mediterranean climate. These techniques were adopted by the Greeks.

winemaking techniques

That from Theophrastus The addition of gypsum or marble dust mentioned was done for reasons of clarification and acidification of the wine. However, there were also methods that are commonly used today wine adulteration would designate. Ash, lye, spruce needles and various spices were added to the wine in order to remove the tartness or improve the taste. There were also techniques for making red wine into white wine, which was achieved by adding bean flour or protein. The run juice was partly processed into special wines, but mostly mixed with the pressed wine. The fermentation took place in Dolium (Clay pot with a volume of several thousand liters) that were sunk into the ground. Even during fermentation or shortly afterwards, thickened must was added for sweetening and preservation.

As a rule, the wine was on the lees and then often only in spring amphorae tapped. The great age of ancient Roman wines was between the 1st century BC. BC to the end of the 2nd century AD. The three most famous wines in this period were Caecubum. Falernum and Surrentinum (White wines, Falerner also red), all of them - like most of the top Roman wines - from the region Campania came. But also that Haluntium from Syracuse (Sicily), the Pucinum from Friuli ( favorite wine the wife of Augustus; 63. v. to AD 14) and the Raeticum out Veneto are also worth mentioning.

The biggest problem in the hot climate was the storage and preservation of the wine, so that one had to deal with the preservation at an early stage. Homer mentioned in the 8th century BC. B.C. sulphurize and the flavoring of the wine with spices and perfuming substances. They were written amphorae with pitch or pine resin and applied a layer of resin and oil to the wine surface. The Greek then developed from this Retsina, In ancient literature, sweet wines are often spoken of. This was probably less due to the pressing of dried grapes (although mentioned in Homer's Odyssey), but that the fermentation, which usually takes place at higher temperatures, got stuck. But unripe grapes were also deliberately pressed to produce wines with strong acidity.

Viticulture in ancient Rome

The largest sales market was Rome, where the patricians practiced the free distribution of wine (not just bread) at the games. The city was until the destruction by the Vesuvius eruption in 79 Pompeii the main supplier. Wine was an everyday drink for all strata of the population, which is also documented by the saying "Vita vinum est" (wine is life). An excellent custom of eating and drinking culture the Roman upper class is the famous work Satyricon of Petronius, But there were big quality differences. It was with the poor classes and slaves iora popular, a Piquette from press residues. A popular non-alcoholic drink among Roman citizens and especially legionaries was that Posca (a vinegar water). The best wines were mainly white wines. There were still no aging, tannin-rich red wines. They were pale red and the everyday drink in the taverns.

Colosseum Rome

In the better layers was next to that mead the honey wine Mulsum very popular. The storability of the wines was also very important for the Romans and they seem to have done more work than the Greeks. According to Roman law, a distinction was made between "new" and "old" wine, the second had to be stored for at least one year. The taste of white wines gradually changed from thick and sweet to light and dry. A widespread and fatal custom was to combine grape juice in lead containers by cooking on a small fire defrutum thickened syrup. Chronic lead poisoning is cited in some sources as one of the reasons for the decline of the Roman Empire. If this is true, then (besides water pipes and cisterns) lead ) this custom also contributed to this. The map shows the Roman Empire at the time of its greatest expansion at the end of the reign of Emperor Hadrian (53-117).

Roman Empire at the time of its greatest expansion in 115 AD

Viticulture in the Roman colonies

The Romans spread or cultivated viticulture as their empire expanded across Europe, Asia Minor and North Africa, where they had a decisive influence on viticulture and wine culture. In this regard, the two emperors are above all Domitian (51-96) and Probus (232-282), whose regulations and measures have had a major impact on the viticulture development of almost all countries in Europe. Many of today's names that appear German to us come from the Romans. The most well-known are Wine from vinum, must from mustum (mustus = young, fresh), winepress from Calcatorium or Keller from cellarium.

In many of Europe's traditional wine-growing regions, vineyards were cultivated by the Romans around the turn of the age. The documentation on wine and viticulture, written by numerous Greek and Roman authors, was in part valid until the late Middle Ages in the 15th century and the methods described therein were used. The orders of the Roman Catholic church later took on the pioneering role from the Romans, drawing on their experience and perfecting it. The earned particular merit Benedictine (from the 6th century), as well as the Carthusians and Cistercian (from the 11th century).

Antique wine literature

There are extensive ones literature about viticulture and wine culture in antiquity, which also depicts a colored picture of life habits. In chronological order, these are the Carthaginians who are considered the “first wine author” Mago (around 400 BC), the Greek historian Herodotus (482-425 BC), the Roman politician Cato the elder (234-149 BC), the Roman literary figure Varro (116-27 BC), the Greek historian Strabo (63 BC-AD 28), Roman author Columella (first half of the 1st century), the Roman scientist Pliny the Elder (23-79), the Roman historian Tacitus (55-120), the Greek doctor Galen (129-216), the Greek writer Athenäos (around 200) as well as the Roman writer Palladius (4th century). And the three Roman poets Horace. ovid and Virgil wrote about wine. See also under Ancient grape varieties,

Map: From Sebastian Wallroth , derived: Roman provinces and Map of Europe , CC BY-SA 3.0 , link

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