Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"A little wine for thy stomach's sake": Wine History Roundup

Randall Stephens

Marc Kaufman, "Ancient Winemaking Operation Unearthed," Washington Post, January 11, 2011

Now actual proof of early vintners comes from a cave near a remote Armenian village, which, perhaps not coincidentally, is within 60 miles of Mount Ararat. Scientists have unearthed a surprisingly advanced winemaking operation, surrounded by storage jars, and say it dates back 6,000 years, making it the earliest known site in the world for wine-making with grapes, by far.>>>

Stephen Meuse, "But Was It Plonk?" Boston Globe, January 13, 2011

The earliest known winery has been discovered in an Armenian cave complex. An international team investigating the site has identified a treading platform for crushing grapes, a vat for storing wine, a drinking cup and bowls believed to be more than 6000 years old.>>>

Wynne Parry, "In Vino Veritas: Wine Cups Tell History of Athenian Life," MSNBC, January 12, 2011

Over centuries, the ancient Athenian cocktail parties went full circle, from a practice reserved for the elite to one open to everyone and then, by the fourth century B.C., back to a luxurious display of consumption most could not afford. The wine cups used during these gatherings, called symposia, reflect this story, according to Kathleen Lynch, a University of Cincinnati professor of classics.>>>

Talia Baiocchi, "Vintage America: A Brief History of Wine in America," eater.com, January 3, 2011

But America's wine history reaches much further back than the 1970s and covers much more ground than the West Coast. In many places, the remnants of 500 years of wine growing and consumption are still evident. Ohio still grows Catawba, the native grape that was the centerpiece of Nicholas Longworth's first commercial winery in the United States in the 1830s; Virginia's Roanoke Island is still home to a 400-year-old Scuppernong vine trained by the Englishmen that washed up there in the late 1500s; and Texas, whose winemaking history dates back to the mid 1600s, may just be the next great American wine producing state.>>>

Jeremy Bowen, "Lebanon's Vines on the Frontline," BBC, January 12, 2011

Compared with the world's wine superpowers, Lebanon's wine production is tiny but its history goes back to the Phoenician civilisation in the ancient world. In Baalbek, in the Bekaa Valley, the Romans left a temple to Bacchus, the god of wine, which still stands.>>>

Thomas Jefferson to M. de Neuville, December 13, 1818, in Memoir, Correspondence, and Miscellanies: From the Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Thomas Jefferson Randolph (Charlottesville, 1829), 312.

I rejoice, as a moralist, at the prospect of a reduction of the duties on wine, by our national legislature. It is an error to view a tax on that liquor as merely a tax on the rich. It is a prohibition of its use to the middling class of our citizens, and a condemnation of them to the poison of whiskey, which is desolating their houses. No nation is drunken where wine is cheap; and none sober, where the dearness of wine substitutes ardent spirits as the common beverage. It is, in truth, the only antidote to the bane of whiskey.>>>

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