history of wine - old ruins
Articles,  Booze

My Boozy Kitchen’s History Lesson: What is the history of wine?

history of wine

There is so much information that I want to share with you. I just don’t know where to start? Perhaps I thought, maybe I should start with how to taste wine? How can someone start to taste but doesn’t know the various types wine cultivars? Instead, it will be good to have an Abby history lesson. Learn about how it all started. Today I am going to share with you the history of wine.

The history of wine goes way-way back. We are actually looking at 8000 BCE in ancient Persia. From there it found its way down to ancient Assyria (modern-day Northern Iraq, NE of Syria and SE of Turkey). It then spread to Babylon and eventually made its way to Ancient Egypt.

The Egyptians used wine in many of their ceremonies as it was the colour of blood. Ancient hieroglyphics show how the Egyptians had own vines on wooden trellises, and harvested with sickle knives, still practised in some parts of the Mediterranean until now. When the Jews and Sea Faring Phoenicians had come in contact with the Egyptians, they also spread the winemaking process to Different in what way?different parts of the world. It was in actual fact the Phoenicians who cultivated wine spreading it across most parts of the world.

Did you know the Phoenicians had traveled as far as Cape Town? Allegedly, a number of stories where they have excavated Phoenicians shipwrecks. Apparently in the Cape Flats region, bare in mind, during that time period the Cape Flats was under water. Another story (more like an urban legend) that they found a Phoenician shipwreck while doing the construction of Grand West Casino. Some of these stories must be true, as the San had done rock paintings of what is too believed as Phoenician Galleys. This must mean that the San and the Phoenician’s co-existed for a while, and possibly traded. Right, how did we get here? So going off topic. Sorry about that, now let’s get back to the history of wine.

We know how the Jews had used wine for ceremonial purposes. The first mention of wine is in the book of Genesis where Noah after the flood had a little too much to drink and behaved a little inappropriately. I guess many of us had behaved a little – a ‘hem… strange when too much was drunken. The archaeologist had unearthed a 3700-year-old cellar in Northern Israel. They actually estimate that it can store up to 3000 bottles of wine.

Once the Greeks who came into contact with the Phoenicians, it was the Greeks who tweaked wine into a far greater quality. Wine for the Greeks became a symbol of trade, religion and health. I am sure you may heard of Dionysus – the Greek god of wine? As Greece rose to power, how could they not take wine with them? As they colonised, they planted vines. This is how wine had reached the Roman Empire.

The Roman’s like the Greeks had made wine their own. The Romans to had a god dedicated to wine. He was called Bacchus he represented Wine, Agriculture and Fertility. If you in the wine industry, you hear this word quiet as people in the trade, name their businesses after him. As the mighty Roman Empire grew and colonised they planted vines as they moved along. They had planted vines in modern-day Italy, Germany, France, Spain and Portugal.

As we see the collapsing of the Roman Empire and enter the Dark Ages, it was the Roman Catholic Church who kept the wine-making process alive. Wine became an important part of Sacrament. Monasteries in France and Italy work as vintners. This had perfected the wine-making technology. As the Catholic Church spreads across Europe, their wine-making goes with it.


history of wine
The Roman Catholic Church during the Dark Ages, kept the wine-making process alive by means of Sacraments.

Wine travels to new worlds! In the 1500’s the Portuguese travel to Japan, introducing imported wine to Japanese Citizens. Grape vines, however, were only planted 300 years later, when the Western Cultured was found acceptable and embraced. During this period, Spanish missionaries had traveled to Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Peru and Chile. The first vineyards started in Chile.

history of wine - 17th Century explores
17th Century European explores sailing the unknown seas, taking their wine-making knowledge along with them!

A Dutch Charted Company called the VOC (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) or in English called the Dutch East-India Company. The VOC had decided to set up a Refreshment Station. Sounding Familiar? Yes, you right! Wine finally makes its way to South Africa!!

Whooohoo – South Africa now has wine!! A good reason to celebrate!

But this we will discuss another day!

Thank you for reading, and if you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share. Don’t forget to sign up so you don’t miss Part B of my next article titled: The History of Wine – South Africa

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