Storia e origini della vite: quando è nato il vino?

The origins and history of wine are very ancient, some have their roots in legend, others are also intertwined with history and religion.


History and origin of life: when wine was born? It is certainly a fascinating journey that travels through distant places and times. A story that has shaped different countries and traditions, which sees vine and wine as protagonists, two essential elements inextricably linked to each other in a relationship that involves nature, archeology and millenary culture.


The origins and etymology of the word wineo”

The history of wine is very ancient. The history and the various vicissitudes that have marked its origins always intersect with the evolution of man and his various migrations. From drink discovered thanks to spontaneous fermentation of grape juices up to the first winemaking techniques refined from generation to generation, from population to population, up to its diffusion in the rest of the world, thanks above all to the development of transport, commerce and modern oenology.

But what is the etymology of the word wine Many indicate its origin in Latin vinum, which in turn refers to the classical Greek term oînos. From Ancient Rome, then, the Latin word was extended to other populations.


How the vine was born

There are many stories that start the birth of the vine and grapes: it is often traced back to Adam and Eve, describing it as the forbidden fruit of the garden of Eden (and therefore not the famous apple), or at the time of i Noah, in the Genesis of the Bible, who, after the Universal Flood, decided to plant a vineyard thanks to which he discovered wine, drinking it until he got drunk. And then, in Christianity, wine assumed a fundamental importance in the sacrament of the Eucharist, becoming the symbol of the blood of Jesus Christ, as affirmed during the Last Supper.

The story speaks instead of origins dating back even to Sumerians, the Caucasus and Asia Minor, with the first types of grape vine that could descend from plants dating back to about 50 million years ago; however, it should be specified that the current type of wine grape (vitis vinifera) can be found around 5000 BC. vitis vinifera it is, in fact, the famous European vine, even if its origin, precisely, is Asian. Following the last glaciation, it gradually spread westward and then up to the Greco-Roman population. It should be underlined that in China the vine was not very successful, given that the Chinese have never transformed the plant for productive purposes, unlike the Greeks for example, who made it a real cult with specific control processes. The Phoenicians and the Romans then, they decided to spread the vine first in the Mediterranean basin, but the Greeks were the first to teach the Romans various techniques of cultivation and production of quality wine.

Based on recent archaeological discoverieshowever, the first real sowing and production of table wine can be traced back to southern Anatolia, in Lebanon and in some areas of Syria, but also in northern Iraq and Iran, up to the Caspian Sea. Even more recent is the discovery, dating back to the Copper Age (around 4000 BC), in an Armenian cave, of a clay container for extracting juice with the feet, and a tub that could contain up to 60 liters of must to ferment.


The vine in Italy

The vine in Italy makes its first appearance in Sicily, among the first landings of both the Phoenicians and the Greeks; the former, perhaps, introduced it only in Sardinia, while the latter throughout the South. The Etruscans, instead, they began to cultivate it in central and northern Italy, probably thanks to techniques learned from oriental populations and to much more in-depth knowledge compared to other local settlements. The ancient Greeksmoreover, they made their love for wine into a real cult, that of Dionysus, the inventor of wine (in Rome known as Bacchus). The myth tells that the son of Zeus was fond of the bunches of grapes that grew on the vines that covered the cave of the Nymphs, where the young man rested. For pure pleasure, he began to press the grapes in a cup and, enchanted by their scent, he drank this reddish and frothy juice, receiving an invigorating and rejuvenating jolt, then deciding to travel around the world to spread his invention.

As for the Romans, they managed to produce, until the fall of their Empire, incredible quantities of wine thanks to new cultivation techniques, such as the climbing of the vines and the use of more fertile land exclusively for grapes. Wine became the favorite drink of the nobles and the wealthy, but also of the other less well-off social classes who managed to consume it, even if of less high quality. It should be noted that the wine of the ancient Romans was a syrupy substance, very sweet and very alcoholic, with a taste made more pleasant thanks to the addition of water, honey and spices. Thanks to them were also born the first real wineries with very advanced production methods, equipment and systems and thanks to the large number of slaves who worked incessantly. The Romans were also responsible for the introduction of the vine and the consumption of wine throughout Europe, such as in Germany and northern France.a.


From the Middle Ages to the twentieth century

For wine, the Middle Ages meant decline and abandonment of the countryside. The clergy was the only one to take care of it, preserving techniques and crops; the Benedictine monksin fact, they carried on the art of preparing wine, which they considered as a sacred way of celebrating and getting closer to God. The monks began to experiment with new blends and combinations with innovative blends of white and red wines. The number of admirers of the drink increased and sipping wine became a ritual of company with friends or family on every occasion.

Only from the early Middle Ages, thanks to the resumption of commercial traffic, the vine returned to expand again, also towards the Americas and Australia, even if it was England, with its colonies, that appreciated wine the most. But it was in the eighteenth century that wine fully spread with the development of new innovative techniques and procedures for conservation and fermentation, with the improvement of thears vinificatoria.

And then there came Industrial Revolution, with the introduction of botanical science in oenology to further improve the quality of the wine. In the 19th century, in the era of Romance, France becomes the first wine producer in Europe and in the world: this is thanks above all to the Bordeaux and Champagne vines, among the most exported and appreciated. In the first half of the 19th century and until the beginning of the 20th century, the vines of Europe were attacked by an aphid, the vine plague, causing the disappearance of the most valuable species. Once defeated, there was even an increase in the cultivation of vines throughout Europe. Today the production of wines increases and is constantly refined.


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