What is the history of red wine

Wine is that old

The history of wine

The history of wine is as old as humanity itself - or maybe even older. After all, we are talking about the "drink of the gods". Both the Romans and the Greeks had gods of wine, Bacchus and Dionysus, to whom they worshiped.

In other cultures, too, there are regular indications that wine played no insignificant role. This can be seen, for example, from the fact that wine was often used as a burial object and symbolically viewed as blood spilled in the fight against the gods.

First proven traces of viticulture

Where can they be found now, the oldest references to wine? The search for clues leads to today's Syria. An old grape press that dates back to 8,000 BC. Can be dated BC, is the oldest wine relic ever. On the edge of the Caucasus, in what is now Georgia, people preserved wine by burying it in clay vessels. This has been proven to be around 6,000 BC. Bite. So viticulture was actively practiced more than 8,000 years ago. Thus the grapevine is one of the oldest cultivated plants known to us today.

Wine is much older than expected

Wild wine has been growing for 80 million years. This could be proven on the basis of fossil finds. The vines that are now cultivated with devotion all over the world are of course no longer identical to the original vines. In between there is a long selection process that began around 60 million years ago. The climate changed and ice ages wiped out grape varieties and produced new ones. Before humans intervened at some point, birds and mammals had already discovered their favorite vines in the forests and ensured natural selection.

The actual viticulture was only possible after the first people settled down. It is also proven that grapes were used for processing in the Neolithic Age. Exactly how this happened is not known. In the mountains of Iran is the oldest known wine press of mankind. This wine press is estimated to be around 7,000 years old. For the first time in the Middle East, vines were cultivated by human hands. This was apparently very popular, because viticulture spread rapidly and reached from Iraq to Crete and Gaul. The Minoans, Babylonians and Romans were avowed wine drinkers and the Germanic peoples also grew their first grapes on the Moselle and Rhine.

Persia is the cradle of wine

The cradle of wine was in ancient Persia. The best wines in the Middle East were produced in Shiraz. Incidentally, the city has nothing in common with today's grape variety. Not far from Shiraz was Persepolis, the capital of Persia. A famous wine legend is settled here, something like that happened around 2,500 BC. BC: The king had stored his grapes in the cellar. At some point these began to ferment. At first it was assumed that evil spirits poisoned the fruit. The queen tasted it, driven by suicidal thoughts from migraines. When she did not find herself in the afterlife, but was found in the best mood and free from headaches, the foundation stone for the wine culture was laid.

Wine from ancient Greece

At least since Udo Jürgens we know: The Greeks love their wine. Around 2,000 BC Chr. No similar song made it into the charts, but people did something different. They elevated wine to a cult drink and made their plant god Dionysus unceremoniously the god of wine. Lush parties were celebrated, with dancing and looking deep into the glass. So much doesn't seem to have changed after all. Come on, pour yourself a drink!

The Greeks began to grow grapes in Crete. The Greeks probably copied a lot from the Egyptians, with whom they busily traded. From the Mycenaean culture around 1,500 BC Numerous images have been preserved on ceramic vessels that tell of viticulture and the processing of the grape juice. The Greeks drank their wine mixed with water, more precisely in a ratio of 2: 5, two parts of wine and five parts of water. So moderation was the order of the day. It was not for nothing that Pythagoras invented the cup of justice. Whoever filled it too abundantly had to live with the fact that the entire content ran out and was thus lost.

The Greeks were not only moderate with their wines, they were also particularly active in dealing with them. They left nothing to chance. There was already a wine law on the island of Thasos 2,400 years ago. The amphorae marked with stamps were delivered as far as Athens. As pioneers of viticulture, the Greeks took care of their vines extensively, planting the vines in parallel rows and aligning them with the sun and wind. The best conditions for the famous Greek wine, which was cultivated around the 4th century BC. Reached its heyday.

Viticulture in the Roman Empire

Armed conflicts were inevitable in ancient Greece and the Roman Empire grew stronger. Even if the Romans already cultivated wine in Etruria, they gratefully accepted the knowledge of the Greeks. Wine was soon cultivated successfully in almost all Roman provinces. Bacchus competed with Dionysus as the god of wine and the Romans also got into a celebratory mood when, for example, they vigorously encouraged the grape juice at the Bona Dea women's festival. The Romans also mixed their wine with water. However, you did not consume the grape juice as a pure stimulant, but also recognized the healing and strengthening effects of the wine. After all, it was also the Romans who established viticulture in the Rhine Valley or in the Wachau.

The wine in Christianity

Who is the first winemaker known by name? Right, none other than Noah. In general, the book of books doesn't skimp on all sorts of stories about wine. Solomon speaks of a medicine that can also quickly become an intoxicant. The Holy Spirit works like fermenting wine and Jesus sees the bond to his followers as a connection between vine and vines. Even the people of Israel are compared to a vineyard. It is through wine that people of creation feel the glory. Just think of the wine at the Lord's Supper, which symbolizes the blood of Christ. Consecrated wine was often used as a sacramental even in the Middle Ages. The Jews include kosher wine in the rituals customary for weddings or the Passover festival.

Viticulture in Germany

We owe the spread of viticulture in Germany to the Romans. Especially in the last two centuries before the birth of Christ, viticulture expanded up the Rhine. Numerous finds can confirm this. Grape seeds were even found in Xanten, which are evidence of vigorous viticulture in the Lower Rhine region. The Romans had adopted their knowledge of wine from the Greeks. Numerous writings were written about viticulture. The Romans were familiar with the different grape varieties, the influences of the climate and the advantages and disadvantages of individual growing areas. It is hardly surprising that almost all modern cellar techniques have their origins in the resourceful Romans.

Viticulture on the Moselle

Teutons and Romans

In ancient times, the Teutons did not have the slightest idea of ​​viticulture. But they consumed Greek wine with gusto. When Caesar defeated the Gauls, viticulture was already flourishing in France. The Romans made sure that Germania finally became a wine country. A relic from this time is the Neumagen wine ship. This is the tomb of a Roman wine merchant. The original dates from around 220 AD and can be viewed in the Rheinisches Landesmuseum in Trier. Anyone who spends their vacation on the Moselle will be able to follow the Roman Wine Route. The oldest wine region in Germany has a lot to offer - not least excellent Müller-Thurgau, Pinot Noir or Dornfelder. Today's wines have nothing in common with the grapes of yore.

The wine and its emperor

A term when looking for the origins of viticulture in Germany is the “Weinkaiser” Probus. The history books don't tell much about the Roman Emperor, who was in office for just six years at the end of the 3rd century. What made him widely known, however, was an excerpt from his biography “Historia Augusta”. It said that all Gauls, Spaniards and British were allowed to own vines and make wine. A free ticket for viticulture. In many wine-growing areas on the north side of the Alps, Probus is still considered a pioneer of viticulture. Viticulture is verifiably older, but experienced a significant boom during the times of the regent. If you take a careful stroll through Bad Godesberg today, you can discover the Probus column as a monument to the emperor.

The migration of peoples and viticulture

The migration of peoples almost brought viticulture in Western Europe to a standstill. The Carolingians, above all Charlemagne, tried not to let the viticulture fall into oblivion. Under Charlemagne, wine was grown again on a large scale. A great merit that the wine tasted better and better goes to the monasteries. Here the cultivation was intensively dealt with and the winemaking process was fine-tuned. Speyer, Mainz and Worms were first discussed as wine locations in the 8th century. After the division of the Franconian Empire, the Ottonians also promoted viticulture in Central Germany. Wine became a popular drink and was actually grown everywhere, even on the Baltic Sea there were vineyards at that time. Today Germany's northernmost vineyard is on the island of Sylt and the annual yield of around 500 bottles is quickly sold out. Without wanting to diminish the work and enthusiasm of our ancestors, we would probably reject the drops served back then today with thanks, because the wine from back then was probably not really enjoyable.

Bad harvests in the Middle Ages

In the 16th century, the per capita consumption of wine in Germany reached its peak. The Thirty Years' War suddenly put an end to this, because suddenly there were no more vineyards in Bavaria or in the north and east of Germany. Poor harvests and rising prices did the rest, and yet something groundbreaking happened, because on the Rhine and its tributaries, wine-growing regions formed in the climatically favored regions that have survived to this day. Suddenly better and better wine was being grown on a smaller area. The Germans became more choosy and paid more attention to the quality and origin of the grape juice.

History and stories

The dramatic 19th century

When the areas on the left bank of the Rhine were incorporated into France, quality viticulture reached a new level. Wines were exported to Russia or England. Viticulture became a science. The selection of grape varieties has been improved and noticeable progress has been made compared to antiquity. Study travelers brought not only new knowledge with them from North America, but also diseases and pests. At first, the powdery mildew wreaked havoc. However, the winegrowers learned to fight it with sulfur. The phylloxera raged far more violently. Infested vines destroyed thousands of hectares of vineyards. Any attempts to combat phylloxera were unsuccessful. At some point it was found that only European vines were attacked. In order to preserve the European grape varieties, European travelers were unceremoniously grafted onto American documents. Anyone who drinks a German wine today can almost assume that it is actually a vine with European fruits and American roots.

The first winegrowers' associations

The 20th century was all about new beginnings. Vintners received intensive training in the various teaching and research institutes. New techniques and equipment made working in the vineyard easier and more efficient. The establishment of winegrowers' cooperatives ensured the organization and better cohesion of the winegrowers. In order to better protect consumers from counterfeiting and fraud, uniform laws have been passed across Europe. The quality of the wines improved steadily and the global wine trade reached a new high.

Wine country Germany today

Around 80,000 winemakers are active in Germany. Vines are grown on more than 100,000 hectares. These result in more than nine million hectoliters of grape juice per vintage. Germans don't drink their wine alone. Around a third of the wines are exported, primarily to Great Britain, the Netherlands or the USA. Rhineland-Palatinate owns most of the cultivation areas. Most of the vineyards are located in protected areas not far from the rivers. The sunshine is particularly intense on the steep slopes facing south or west. Heat is stored and can still be given off to the plants after sunset. This microclimate makes viticulture in Germany possible in the first place. The winemakers are faced with particular challenges when breeding early-ripening varieties. When it comes to the question of Germany's largest wine-growing region, opinions differ. Neustadt an der Weinstrasse and Landau in the Palatinate fight for this title every year. The German Wine Queen also comes from Neustadt an der Weinstrasse. If you want to find out more information and curiosities about German wine, visit the German Wine Museum in Oppenheim.

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