Earliest wine in world found in 8000-year-old jars in Georgia

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The study by a multinational team of scientists led by Patrick McGovern, a molecular archaeologist from the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, says the earliest evidence for grape wine and viniculture from the Near East appeared around 6,000-5,800 BC during the early Neolithic Period at a place called Gadachrili Gora, roughly 50km south of the capital, Tbilisi.

A chemical analysis of the residue of the excavated jars revealed that it contains tartaric acid, the fingerprint compound for grape and wine as well as three associated organic acids - malic, succinic and citric.

It's thought the prehistoric imbibers of Georgia may have stored their wine in large jars underground, leaving them to ferment.

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

Before stumbling upon these ceramic jars, the oldest evidence related to the existence of wine came from today's Iran, in the Zagros Mountains.

The discoveries in Georgia knock Iran off its pedestal as the birthplace of the booze-up, with its wine dating back to 5,400-5,000 BC.

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The latest finds were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Georgia is one of the flawless environments for such undertakings, as it hosts about 500 species and varieties of grapes used only for wine, together with many others cultivated for fruits.

Batiuk said the domestication of the grape "eventually led to the emergence of a wine culture in the region". Also, they started creating tools out of stone and pottery out of clay. Testing of the Georgian pieces showed evidence of a slew of acids from wine that had been made inside the erstwhile vessels. So in many ways, this discovery brings my co-director Andrew Graham and I full circle back to the work of our professor Cuyler, who also provided some of the fundamental theories of the origins of agriculture in the Near East.

The Neolithic period was the time when humans started domesticating plants and animals, started farming and developed the techniques of pottery making and weaving.

Apparently, there was an abundance of Eurasian grapevine Vitis vinifera around the excavation sites, given the ideal climate for their growth much like wine producing area of France and Italy today.

Batiuk thinks that the drinking and offering of wine played an important role in many aspects of life in the ancient Georgian society from medical practice, to celebrations of births and deaths and everyday meals. "The Eurasian gravepine that now accounts for 99.9% of wine made in the world today, has its roots in Caucasia". Many designs are available.

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