Evidence of 'World's Oldest' Grape Wine Dug Up in Georgia

Leslie Hanson
November 14, 2017

The world's earliest evidence of grape wine-making has been detected in 8,000-year-old pottery jars unearthed in Georgia, making the tradition nearly 1,000 years older than previously thought, researchers said on November 13. Many Georgians have long believed that their tradition of winemaking is the oldest on the planet.

The find comes after a team of archaeologists and botanists in Georgia joined forces with researchers in Europe and North America to explore two villages in the South Caucasus region, about 50km south of the capital Tbilisi.

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

The sites offered a glimpse into a neolithic culture characterised by circular mud-brick homes, tools made of stone and bone and the farming of cattle, pigs, wheat and barley.

(A) Representative early Neolithic jar from Khramis Didi-Gora. What's more, it was decorated with blobs that the researchers say could be meant to depict clusters of grapes.

The villages are from a Neolithic time frame. "6,000-5,800 BC", McGovern and colleagues wrote in their study. While numerous pieces were collected in recent excavations, two were collected in the 1960s; researchers have long suspected they might bear traces of wine. Testing of the Georgian pieces showed evidence of a slew of acids from wine that had been made inside the erstwhile vessels.

A chemical analysis of the residue of the excavated jars revealed that it contains tartaric acid, the fingerprint compound for grape and wine as well as three associated organic acids - malic, succinic and citric.


Georgia, which has a long heritage of winemaking, is positioned at a crossroads between Western Asia and Eastern Europe, and the grape identified in jar fragments excavated from two Neolithic-era villages is Vitis vinifera - aka the "Eurasian grapevine", from which almost all kinds of modern wine originate.

Some of these jars were pretty big - a comparable jar uncovered in a nearby site holds 300 litres (79 gallons), which could have held the contents of 400 wine bottles today. Moreover, there are none of the telltale signs that the pots were used for syrup-making, while grape juice would have fermented within a matter of days.

That honour belongs to the long-ago people of Jiahu in the Yellow Valley of China, where researchers previously found evidence of an even earlier kind of wine production dating back to around 7000 BCE. However, these traces dated back from 5400 to 5000 BC, also in the Neolithic period.

Davide Tanasi, of the University of South Florida, said the results of the study were unquestionable and that the findings were "certainly the example of the oldest pure grape wine in the world".

He invited a team of scientists from all over the world to take a fresh look at two very old archaeological sites in Georgia.

"We believe this is the oldest example of the domestication of a wild-growing Eurasian grapevine exclusively for the production of wine", said co-author Stephen Batiuk, a senior research associate at the University of Toronto.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER