Who doesn’t love a delightful glass of delicious wine? Don’t we all? But where did this tradition begin? Who were the first people who considering fermenting grapes until they became something that could improve your mood and your perspective on things? And where to the Italians fit into the scheme of things?
Well, here for your information is me with my version of the history of winemaking.
The Beginning of Wine
The oldest winery in the world was found in a cave in Vayots Dzor, Armenia and is estimated to be from about 4100 BC. So really wine has been around just about as long as humanity has. Because even if that is the oldest found, that surely means someone was making it before then. So wine is really an essential part of human survival and should be treated as such.
The Greeks and Romans treated wine as part of their religions because of the mind-altering effect of drinking wine. Of course you will know that modern-day Italy is the same location as the center of ancient Rome. The Romans were the most important people in terms of wine, having increased the development of both oenology and viticulture. And as the Roman Empire expanded, the culture of wine and winemaking also expanded. If you think about it, all of the major areas of Europe that make wine today were once part of the Roman Empire.
Regulating Wine in Rome and Italy
By 92 AD, the process and culture of making wine had expanded so far that Emperor Domitian starting making rules about planting grapes and making wine so that people could also still grow food. That is right, people were so into wine that they would rather drink wine than eat food. Not that anyone could blame them. Italian wine is pretty amazing.
Before the collapse of the Roman Empire, they passed rules that said that wine could not be grown outside of Italy. People would pay to get wine from the capital by selling slaves to them. Of course that was a terrible idea, but it does demonstrate how devoted the people were to their wine. And it also makes it a different kind of crime that people were so restricted in the growing of grapes that they would go to extremes to get their hands on a bottle of vino.
Where the Wine is Today
While growing wine grapes and creating wine is now something that happens all across Europe and Northern Africa, Italy still reigns supreme as far as the types of wine that are available. France may be hailed for their delicious wines, but do not forget the master vintners that come out of Italy.
The regions that grow wine in Italy are:
- Aosta Valley
- Friuli-Venezia Giulia
- Trentino-Alto Adige
There are of course other areas that also make wonderful wines, but this is just my go-to alphabetic list of Italian winemakers. There are also a number of varieties of wine grapes that are grown throughout Italy, but I will go over those in another post so I do not spare any details.
Just do not count Italy out as one of the great winemakers of the world. They have been making wine longer than most other winemakers throughout the world. The climate is made to make the perfect juiciness of grapes, full of flavor after absorbing the Italian sun and rains. The earth there is full of unique flavors that you simply do not want to pass up. So next time you head to Italian for dinner, go for the wine too.