A glass of wine in the evening is a pleasure enjoyed by millions of people around the world. It is consumed with dinner, with friends, after a stressful day, in the bath or out in the garden. It seems we need little excuse to pour a glass or two. But has it always been this way or is this something new?
It is thought that wine production began between 6,000BC and 3,000BC in the Persian and Georgia area. Stories of this time mention a king’s daughter who ate spoiled grapes in an attempt to end her own life after falling out with the king. Instead of dying, the girl felt her mood improving and she felt convivial enough to make up with her father. The pair continued to consume bad grapes to enjoy the euphoria.
Vineyards were planted in the fertile soil near the Nile as wine production expanded. Noah, it is told in the Bible, planted his own vines after the flood. Wine was used in religious ceremonies, and the Egyptians introduced it to funeral services.
The Romans, in around 1000BC, were responsible for refining the methods of wine making by studying the best soil and grapes to use. They also realised that aged wine tasted superior and that storing the liquid in wooden caskets improved things. The Romans drank wine with almost every meal and they often mixed it with honey, herbs and spices. A great deal of Europe followed the Romans’ lead and planted vineyards in Spain, France and Greece.
The oldest bottle of wine was bottled in 325AD. It was discovered in 1867 with the beverage still intact. It is permanently displayed in a museum at Pfalz in Germany.
It wasn’t until 1769 that the first vines were planted in California. This American state now produce around 700,000,000 bottles a year, which is 90% of the USA’s wine.
In 1857 Louis Pasteur studied wine and proved that the micro-organisms in the yeast changed the grape juice to wine. Before this time winemakers had no idea how ‘the magic’ happened. Pasteur’s research made sure wine production was more hygienic after this discovery.
Today around 36 billion bottles of wine are produced every year around the world, so it is now a huge industry. Thirteen countries have a total ban, or partial ban, of alcohol. The prohibition is mainly based on religious beliefs.
The most expensive wine produced is Romanee Conti – Grand Cru which sells for an average of £11,800 a bottle, and 5,000 bottles are produced each year.
If £12,000 for a bottle of wine seems a bit expensive, then a price comparison website is probably right up your street. They allow wine lovers to track down the best price for their favourite tipple.