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

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He explained, "Wine is central to civilization as we know it in the West".

Telltale chemical signs of wine were discovered in eight jars, the oldest one dating from about 5,980 BC. Testing of the Georgian pieces showed evidence of a slew of acids from wine that had been made inside the erstwhile vessels.

The earthenware jars containing residual wine compounds were found in two sites south of the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, researchers said. The scientists there found traces of tartaric acid, which is a chemical signature for grapes and wine.

The world's earliest evidence of grape wine-making has been detected in 8,000-year-old pottery jars unearthed in Georgia, making the tradition nearly 1,000 years older than previously thought, researchers said Monday. This is the time in human history when humans became more sedentary and developing farming and crafts.

"Pottery, which was ideal for processing, serving and storing fermented beverages, was invented in this period together with many advances in art, technology and cuisine", said Batiuk.

"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.

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

Georgia, famous for its endless rounds of heartfelt toasts that can run into the wee hours of the morning, just unseated Iran as the home of the first wine produced from the Eurasian grape, popular with millions of wine-lovers around the globe.

Some of these jars were pretty big - a comparable jar uncovered in a nearby site holds 300 litres (79 gallons), which could have held the contents of 400 wine bottles today. Adding to its importance, this grapevine was the ancestor of the current wine varieties that we enjoy so much.

"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, co-author of the study from the University of Toronto. "The Eurasian gravepine that now accounts for 99.9% of wine made in the world today, has its roots in Caucasia".

Journal reference: Patrick McGovern el al., "Early Neolithic wine of Georgia in the South Caucasus", PNAS (2017).

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