A recent PNAS paper reports molecular traces of a 6000-year old wine in the Caucasus region. The discovery was made by researchers of several American and European institutions on large jars reconstructed from pottery fragments found in newly excavated Neolithic sites from southern Georgia, in the Near East. This would be the earliest report of grape cultivation and viniculture.
Significance. The earliest biomolecular archaeological and archaeobotanical evidence for grape wine and viniculture from the Near East, ca. 6,000–5,800 BC during the early Neolithic Period, was obtained by applying state-of-the-art archaeological, archaeobotanical, climatic, and chemical methods to newly excavated materials from two sites in Georgia in the South Caucasus. Wine is central to civilization as we know it in the West. As a medicine, social lubricant, mind-altering substance, and highly valued commodity, wine became the focus of religious cults, pharmacopoeias, cuisines, economies, and society in the ancient Near East. This wine culture subsequently spread around the globe. Viniculture illustrates human ingenuity in developing horticultural and winemaking techniques, such as domestication, propagation, selection of desirable traits, wine presses, suitable containers and closures, and so on.
- McGovern, P. et al (2017) Early Neolithic wine of Georgia in the South Causasus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, E10309-E10318, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1714728114