World's Oldest Wine Found in 8000-Year-Old Jars

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Scientists say 8,000-year-old pottery fragments have revealed the earliest evidence of grape wine-making.

The newest methods of chemical extraction confirmed tartaric acid, the fingerprint compound for grape and wine as well as three associated organic acids - malic, succinic and citric - in the residue recovered from eight large jars. The jars were found in the Neolithic villages of Gadachrili Gora and Shulaveris Gora, the oldest among them dating back to about 5980 B.C. These decorations, the researchers hypothesize, represent grapes.

But the Chinese drink used a wild grape that has apparently never been domesticated, while the Georgian wine used a Eurasian grape species that did undergo domestication and led to the vast majority of wine consumed today, said researcher Patrick McGovern.

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Previously, the earliest evidence of wine-making was from pottery dating from about 7,000 years ago found in north-western Iran.

According to Stephen Batiuk, a senior researcher at the University of Toronto who helped publish the findings via the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), this latest artefact find is a serious window into the earl days of wine making.

"Wine is central to civilisation as we know it in the West".

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The Neolithic Period (around 15,200 BCE to 2,000 BCE) was characterized by the beginning of farming, the domestication of animals, the development of crafts such as pottery and weaving, and the production of polished stone tools. Georgia is one of the ideal environments for such undertakings, as it hosts about 500 species and varieties of grapes used only for wine, together with many others cultivated for fruits.

One question still boggles the mind though: How did earlier civilisations produce their wine? The research suggests that one of the primary adaptations of the Neolithic way of life, as it spread to Caucasia (the area between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea), was viniculture.

"Eventually, drinking and offering wine became part of every aspect of life including medical practice, special celebrations, birth to death, everyday meals". "The Eurasian gravepine that now accounts for 99.9% of wine made in the world today, has its roots in Caucasia". Many designs are available.

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