The consumption of wine dates back thousands of years, with an archaeological dig uncovering a winery in Armenia from around 4000 B.C! Of course, wine is also consumed religiously, especially as part of the Eucharist in memory of The Last Supper. The Greeks also celebrated wine production in the form of the god Dionysus. The concept of fermentation and preservation existed back then, and pine resin was used to protect and prolong the life of wine. This is now known as “retsina”, and is still commercially produced in Greece.
Wine production flourished in Lebanon during medieval times, as it did in Southern European regions, especially France. As it was so commonplace, it was a drink enjoyed by people of all classes. However, the weather in the North, as today, was not as conducive to winemaking. Back then though, transport was infinitely less-developed, meaning that wine was only drunk by the upper classes in the North of Europe. However, it was also the first time that wine could be produced in England, as water treatment had developed to the point where the water was drinkable. Monks It was during this time that a large amount of wine production was taken on by Benedictine and Cistercian monks. Monks acquired a lot of fertile land and produced food and drink not only to be sustainable, but also to attract more monks to their land and to be able to offer exceptional hospitality. Mead production was also far more widespread, as it just involved adding honey to the wine. Here is a look at wine in medieval times and what it tasted like.
The Game Changes
As transport links were established in the 18th and 19th centuries, wine regions in France in particular were able to export their wines to Spain, Portugal and the UK as well as further afield. Wineries were privatised, and a range of laws relating to production, usage of regional names and grape quality certification were established, turning wine production in to big business. Across the Atlantic, the California Gold Rush brought huge economic growth to the United States, but also vines from around the world – most notably the Croatian Zinfandel grape. In South America, the Spanish conquistadors brought winemaking with them, and the weather and soil proved to be exceptional for wine production.
Nowadays, vines have been transported all over the world, largely meaning that the origin of a grape is unimportant. Malbec, a grape from France, is probably most famous in Argentina. The aforementioned Zinfandel is associated with California, and the Syrah grape, also known as Shiraz, is associated with South Africa and Australia amongst other countries. Wine is imported and exported all over the world, but the majority still comes from France, where the monks first settled. Wine production is currently worth an estimated 12 billion Euros a year to France!