Published: Tue, November 14, 2017
Science | By Hubert Green

'World's oldest wine' found in 8000-year-old jars in Georgia

'World's oldest wine' found in 8000-year-old jars in Georgia

"Our research suggests that one of the primary adaptations of the Neolithic way of life as it spread to Caucasia was viniculture", said Batiuk. The massive jars date back to the early Neolithic period. Researchers at Washington University, US revealed that women who consumed more than five servings of red wine a month enjoyed higher ovarian reserve - a measure of a woman's reproductive health.

"The domesticated version of the fruit has more than 10,000 varieties of table and wine grapes worldwide".

The excavation sites in Georgia are about 50 km south of the capital of Tbilisi and comprise of two ancient villages.

The villages range from the Neolithic. Radiocarbon dating of grains and charcoal nearby suggested the pots date to about 6,000-5,800 BC.

The discovery of these jars was published on Monday in the journal 'Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)'. Scientists in Georgia have just unearthed the latter in a discovery which details the earliest evidence of grape wine-making amongst human civilisation.

The new analysis showed the shards had absorbed the main chemical fingerprint of wine, tartaric acid, as well as some other substances associated with the beverage. Other evidence indicating the presence of wine included ancient grape pollen found at the excavated sites - but not in the topsoil - as well as grape starch particles, the remains of a fruit fly, and cells believed to be from the surface of grapevines on the inside of one of the fragments. Moreover, there are none of the telltale signs that the pots were used for syrup-making, while grape juice would have fermented within a matter of days.

Previously, the earliest evidence of wine-making was from pottery dating from about 7,000 years ago found in north-western Iran.

Georgia, which has a long heritage of winemaking, is positioned at a crossroads between Western Asia and Eastern Europe, and the grape identified in jar fragments excavated from two Neolithic-era villages is Vitis vinifera - aka the "Eurasian grapevine", from which almost all kinds of modern wine originate.

It's incredible to think that 8,000 years ago the world's earliest winemakers were producing something very similar to the wine we consume today - and what's even more startling is it hints we probably had lots more in common with these ancient ancestors too.

"We believe this is the oldest example of the domestication of a wild-growing Eurasian grapevine exclusively for the production of wine", said Stephen Batiuk, research associate at University of Toronto.

The ancient people of Georgia may have stored 300 liters of wine in the massive jars measuring about three feet tall with small clay bumps that are clustered around the rim. "They have been saying for years that they have a very long history of winemaking and so we're really cementing that position".

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