People have used wine since long before recorded history. Much about the earliest history of wine is hidden in the darkness of time. But archaeology and analytic chemistry have shed light on some of the origins of wine.
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The history of wine goes back at least 12,000 years. But we know many of the functions it has served.
Wine provided safe hydration in a world of generally polluted water. Ancient writers rarely wrote about water. Except to warn against drinking it.1
Wine has provided needed nutrition and energy. The levels of amino acids and vitamins increase during fermentation.2 It’s natural nutritional enrichment.3
Wine has served as an important analgesic widely available to people in pain. It was also commonly a cleanser of wounds. And it’s been a medication for many conditions.
Wine has been a medium of exchange.
Religious ceremonies have long included wine. Christian communion usually uses it as does the Jewish Seder.
People have enjoyed wine as a refreshment, source of relaxation, promoter of conviviality, mood lifter, and much more.
Historians Emphasize Problems
Historians and chroniclers tend to note problems rather than normalcy. They often write about any problems caused by alcohol abuse. They rarely write about the non-events of its typical consumption. Or about its benefits to health and longevity when consumed in moderation. But that’s an important part of the history of wine.
The founding Director of the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism analyzed the impact of alcoholic beverages. He concluded that “… alcohol has existed longer than all human memory. It has outlived generations, nations, epochs and ages. It is a part of us, and that is fortunate indeed. For although alcohol will always be the master of some, for most of us it will continue to be the servant of mankind.4
That’s an important message about the history of wine.
Endnotes for History of Wine Timelines
1. Ghaliounqui, P.. Fermented Beverages in Antiquity. In: Gastineau, C., et al. (Eds.) Fermented Food Beverages in Nutrition, pp. 3-19.
2. ________, pp. 8-9.
3. Steinkraus, K. Nutritionally Significant Indigenous Foods. In: Gastineau, C., et al., p. 36.
4. Chafetz, M. Liquor: The Servant of Man, p. 223.