Facts: Archaeological records suggest that wine was discovered long before the Ancient Greek civilization rose to power. The earliest traces of wine have been discovered in modern-day Georgia and date back to 6000 BC. There is also evidence that grape wine was produced in China at least as early as 2500 BC. Ancient Egyptians were also consuming wine as early as 3000 BC. Ancient hieroglyphics have been discovered in Egypt depicting both wine consumption and production throughout the civilization.
It is actually believed the Ancient Greeks learned about winemaking and grape growing from the Phoenicians, an ancient people based in modern day Lebanon, Israel, and Syria.
2. Fiction: Wine in the Ancient World was very similar to the wine we drink today
Facts: The wine consumed by Ancient Greeks and Romans was very different than today’s wine. In ancient times it was very common to add other ingredients to wine to either increase the shelf life of the wine or improve the taste. Some of the most common Roman additions were sea water, lead, spices, flowers, and honey. Both the Ancient Greeks and Romans also diluted their wine with water before consuming. To drink undiluted wine in this time period was considered barbaric and uncivilized.
3. Vineyards have always been organized by grape variety
Fact: Organizing a vineyard by grape variety is actually a relatively new technique. Prior to Europe’s phylloxera epidemic vineyards looked very different. The vast majority of vineyards were a mix of grape varieties. By having a blend of grape varieties, farmers could ensure that if one variety performed poorly in a certain year the entire crop would not be lost.
However, after phylloxera destroyed many of Europe’s vineyards in the late 19th century, vineyards were replanted using more modern techniques.
4. Fiction: French wine is better than other wines
Fact: Many wine enthusiasts think that French wines are better than wines produced in other parts of the world. However, during a wine competition in 1976 (The Judgment of Paris), California wine was tasted alongside French wine in a blind tasting, and the French judges actually preferred the wines from California.
France has a long history of wine production, and produces many famous wines. But now many other countries and regions are capable of producing high quality wines that are as good and sometimes better than their French counterparts.
5. Fiction: Dom Perignon invented sparkling wine
Facts: It is generally believed that the French monk, Dom Perignon invented sparkling wine in 1697. However, the truth is that the English were already making sparkling wine. A scientist named Christopher Merrett was the first to record the technique the English were using to make their wine bubbly in his paper, “How to put the fizz into sparkling wine” published in 1662. He describes the process used to make English bubbly as “Our wine coopers of recent times use vast quantities of sugar and molasses to all sorts of wines to make them drink brisk and sparkling and to give them spirit.”
Dom Perignon did make wine in the Champagne region, however he spent the majority of his time trying to avoid creating bubbles in his wine. During his time the glass bottles made in France were not strong enough to support the amount of pressure a sparkling wine creates, and wines that accidentally became sparkling would occasionally explode in the cellar. While he didn’t invent sparkling wine, Dom Perignon did invent new techniques that improved the region’s wine.