Wine is without doubt, a beverage that has been with man along his history and in countless paths. In this article, sommelier Mauro Marcó Levy helps us recall.
Hundreds of historians say that wine originated in prehistoric times, others suggest that it is more contemporary, and nonetheless there is something certain: the world becomes a far happier place when we drink it. It has been said: “wine gladdens man´s heart”. (Sal 104:15)
All through time and changes in civilizations, wine has been part of its development, playing different roles in the society. We may even say that, as companion, it has been notably loyal, given that it has been present in good times, and unquestionably present in the bad times of our history.
We may highlight, for instance, that it has played a determinant role in wars. On one side, warriors drank wine before and after battles as both pain relieving and amusement, it was their balm. On the other side, wine has always been coveted loot.
Because of this, we can say that it was not always carrying joy into this world. This beverage has been one of the first assets seized by the conquerors; a history that we have seen repeated during agitated episodes lived at the Mediterranean for centuries.
Let´s do a quick revisionism:
The Greeks managed to extend the link between wine and religion from their domain (Greece towards 700 bC and Italy in 200 bC.) up to the last corner on the West. During that stage, the vine and obviously the wine, started to coat of a sacred category which turned them in an inalienable offering to the gods, with its own representative: Dionysius
On the other hand, Rome was one of the main empires to raid wine. The Phoenicians, the most successful society of marketers in the old world, managed the trade between East and West. They were responsible of the expansion of viticulture and wine production in several countries. Those countries make wine varieties fit for international marketing, among the countries we have Lebanon, Algeria, Tunisia, Spain, Portugal and Egypt.
If we focus in Egypt, we can say that they preserve a great amount of eloquent hieroglyphs referred to the wine crop and uses of the grape seen in pharaonic tombs dated 3300 b.C.
Also in the Torah and the Old Testament is possible to find reference to the grape crops practiced by the Hebrew people, with the purpose of making wine. When the twelve tribes of Israel became sedentary, they began to develop the production of grapes, grains and olives.
All along the Bible, wine and vineyards appear profusely in historic locations, in reference to several characters and in all sorts of metaphors like Noa´s drunkenness, Nabot’s vineyard and y the most erotic book of the Bibla, the Song of Songs: “Oh, if he kissed me with kisses from his mouth! Because your love is better than wine”. This reference is also found further on, this time from the mouth of the husband “How beautiful is your love! Sister, my wife! How much better than wine is your love!”.
All of this does not stop certain particularities. Wine drank in old age was very different, speaking about the sensorial part, to the one we drink nowadays. Most of the old civilizations drank wine mixed with milk and honey to improve the taste of it; with some people showing preferences for some wines in special, like the high classes of the Roman Empire who liked to drink sweet white wine. Differently, it was the Hebrew people, one of the few societies that (to honour God) drank the wine au naturel, like we drink it today.
This guiding words show barely one piece of the history of wine along our existence, just an approximation of how man, wars and religion modeled the chronological evolution of this beverage of more than 6000 years of age.
I invite you to re think together, every time we can drink this amazing grape elixir, about the magnificent and millenary history of this drink that has shared our path since the beginning, bringing us joy and healing our hearts.