Wine Is Eternal
Older than recorded history, wine emerges with civilization itself from the East. Tablets, papyri, and the tombs of the Egyptians are filled with tales of wine. Working, worrying, loving, fighting, mankind comes on the scene with a jug of wine in his hand.
Our age of wine has roots with the Greeks and Phoenicians who colonized the Mediterranean around 1500BC. Ultimately wine made its home in Italy, France, and Spain. North Africa, southern Spain, Provence, Sicily, Italy and the Black Sea had their first vineyards in the time of the Greek and Phoenician Empire. The Greeks called Italy “The Land of Vines,” just as 2000 years later, Vikings called America, “Vineland,” because of the profusion of native vines.
Lavishly praised and documented by her poets the wines of Greece, were served in Athens, where there was a fashionable after dinner game that consisted of throwing the last mouthfuls of wine from your cup to hit a dish delicately balanced on a pole. Smart young things took coaching in the finer points of “kottabos.”
As the treatment of the will demonstrates, the quality of that wine is questionable. The contents of the “wine cup” were diluted with water, sometimes even seawater, flavored with herbs, spices and honey.
The wines of the islands of the Aegean were highly prized for their distinct characters. Chios was a supplier constantly in demand.
Greeks industrialized wine growing in southern Italy, Etruscans in Tuscany and further north, and the Romans followed.
Much was written about wine and winemaking in ancient Rome.
The greatest writers, including Virgil, wrote instructions to wine growers. One of his sentences was still the best advice to wine growers: “Vines above an open hill.”