The history of wine is nearly as old as the history of human civilization.The earliest writings discovered on the walls of ancient caves and in buried artifacts contain images of wine and wine-making instruments. Wine is mentioned more than 100 times in both the Hebrew and Christian bibles and many of the most well-know passages involve wine. The very first vines, for example, were planted by Noah, who presumably was the first wine maker; later Jesus performed the miracle of turning water into wine. Wine also was an important part of Greek and Roman mythology and is described in the writings of Homer and Hippocrates. For thousands of years, even through the present day, wine has had great ritual significance in many of the world's major religions and cultures, and it is an important part of the world economy and commerce.
Grape cultivation (viticulture) and wine making appears to have begun in the Zagros Mountains and Caucasus region of Asia (north of Iran, east ofTurkey). Domestication of grapes dates back to 6000 B.C.E., and large-scale production, based on archaeological evidence, appears to have been established by 5400 B.C.E. A fermented wine-like beverage made from honey and fruit appears to have been produced in China around 7000 B.C.E., and rice-based wines, similar to modern day sake, were produced in Asia a few thousand years later (Chapter 12).Wines were imported into France, Italy, and other Mediterranean countries by seafaring traders sometime around 1000 B.C.E., and vines and viticulture techniques were likely introduced into those regions several centuries later.
Wine is also one of the oldest of all fermented products that has been commercialized, mass-produced, and studied. In fact, many of the early microbiologists and chemists were concerned with wine making and wine science. Less than 150 years ago, when the very existence of microorganisms was still being debated, Pasteur showed that not only did microorganisms exist, but that they were responsible for both production and spoilage of wine. Of course, wine preservation has been important since ancient days, when early Egyptian and Roman wine makers began using sulfur dioxide (in the form of burned sulfur fumes) as perhaps the first application of a true antimicrobial agent.
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