Wine has been a essential in many cultures since almost the beginning of time. In fact, the earliest known winery was discovered in Armenia, in a cave dating back to 4100 BC. Not only was there a wine press, but also fermentation vats, jars, cups and grape seeds. The fact that wine making was so advanced at this point suggests that wine making had been going on long before this. Evidence of wine making and wine drinking has been found all over the world ranging from 4000 BC in Sicily, 4500 BC in Greece, 6000 BC in Georgia and 7000 BC in China. I promise I am not trying to “information at you”, I am truly fascinated by wine, and it’s origins! AND it gives me an excuse to be drinking right now. So before you continue reading this pour yourself a glass of wine. Now geek out with me for a moment. Never underestimate the power of knowledge! Next time someone says, “You drink a lot of wine,” You can dazzle them with all of these compelling fun facts.
In ancient times, altered consciousness from drinking wine was considered religious and sacred. (See, that’s a perfect retort, who can argue with that) One of the most famous, and oldest texts mentions wine countless times, I’m sure you’ve heard of it, The Bible. Biblical references show that the Jewish people used wine in ritual. And to this day, largely because of the story of The Last Supper, Christians drink small amounts of wine in the ritual of communion, and you’ve all heard about that time that Jesus turned water into wine. (Those people obviously drank a lot of wine…) Long before Jesus’s time wine played such an important part in Greek culture, that they needed a god to worship. The Greeks worshiped the god Dionysus who ruled the grape harvest, wine making, and wine in general. I’m just sayin’, I’m not above setting up an altar to Dionysus next Harvest! Dionysus was not the only god who ruled wine. From Egypt, to Greece, to Mesopotamia people worshiped gods and goddesses who ruled wine, wine making, drunkenness, and grape harvest.
The first wine grapes came to the Americas, specifically Mexico, by the Spanish conquistadors (soldiers and explorers from Spain) to provide necessities for the Holy Eucharist (Communion). Once again, we see the importance of wine and religion and tradition. During prohibition in the 1920’s through the early 1930’s, while consuming alcohol was legal, manufacturing and selling alcohol was illegal. But we know enough about the roaring twenties to know that people were still drinking wine (and other alcohol). They either stashed it pre-prohibition, or went to a speakeasy. While California is famous for wine, now, America’s wine game in general was stunted because of prohibition. The only legal way to make wine was for religious purposes… causing a lot of questionable rabbis and priests to come out of the wood works. Some wineries cheated the system by selling “wine bricks”, you would add your own yeast and water and allow time for fermentation. Somehow I feel like that could not have been very delicious, particularly considering that I have been immersed in the wine world the last 4 years! But hey where there’s a will there’s a way. To this day 10 states include counties that prohibit the sale of alcohol at all, it’s called a dry county. Here in Southern California we abide by some prohibition era laws but those vary county by county. For instance, in Malibu you can grow grapes and make wine, but you cannot legally bottle wine in Malibu. Lucky for Strey, we can legally make, bottle and consume wine, hooray for Ventura County.
I can’t speak for you, but when wine comes up, the first varietal I think of is Cabernet Sauvignon, even though Cab is not my personal favorite, it just may be the most popular grape. That’s pretty funny considering that Cabernet Sauvignon is actually a hybrid. At some point in the 1650’s, Cabernet Franc grapes and Sauvignon Blanc grapes naturally crossed, creating an entirely new varietal that was appropriately named, Cabernet Sauvignon. My mind was BLOWN when Katie told me this. I happen to love Sauv Blanc, and Cab Franc separately, and never would have guessed, even though it’s in the name!
It turns out, humans are not the only animals who like getting drunk! There are these birds called Bohemian waxwing birds. They eat the fruit of Rowan trees which ferment while they are still on the branches. Some of them fly around drunk and unfortunately, imminently crash into things like buildings and die. In Canada, some of these birds were admitted into a rehab to help them sober up! Elephants enjoy eating fermented fruit and can get buzzed, although, they have to eat A LOT, because they are so big. Bees can get drunk off of fermented nectar, but it’s a terrible idea because A. they can’t find their way home, and B. if they do, the other bees are likely to attack. Evidently getting a “Flying Under the Influence” is a no-no for bees. In the Caribbean Vervet monkeys like getting drunk and may go as far as to steal your drink! I guess as humans we know when it’s a good time to drink up, and when we should slow down. Drinking is fun, but knowing our limits is essential.
Next time you have a cold, think about having a glass of red wine. Wine has an anti inflammatory that helps you fight off colds. In fact, bioflavonoids in red wine can prevent you from catching a cold at all. Resveratrol is proven to help lower cholesterol and prevent blood clots. It is an antioxidant, which we all know is very important. Antioxidants help to render free radicals neutral. (Free radicals are basically blamed for everything from aging, to Alzheimers.) This being said, be mindful and be sure to check in with your healthcare professional. I am sooooo not a doctor, and while I might treat my illnesses with magical medicinal wine, I am not qualified to tell you how to treat yours. That being said, wine a bit, you’ll feel better.
Today, wine is a staple for… basically everything. It enhances social situations, it’s used to celebrate, and to sooth a wounded heart. Wine is a conversation piece that is multifaceted. The conversation around wine never ends. The addition of wine to a conversation helps to flow and open and inspires laughter. Loving wine is a timeless tradition, pairing wine with your meal can be the perfect ingredient to go from ordinary to extraordinary! We truly are following in the footsteps of our ancestors, as we continue to make wine, and pop bottles. This love affair is in our blood, our history, and just may be the reason a few of us were born. For the love of wine.