Sound Smart at Parties: Wine

Hayley Milliman - Content Lead

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There’s no denying it: wine has become a bit of a thing lately.

From the brunch craze to the foodie revolution, you can’t escape the idea that there is a wine for every occasion. But despite the fact that wine is now having a moment, it’s actually been one of (if not the) most important drinks in all human history. Here are five facts about wine to help you sound smart at your next dinner party.

#1: Wine Grapes Are Literally Everywhere

Wherever scientists look for evidence of human life, they find evidence of wine.

Wine grapes have been found on six of the seven continents – all except Antarctica. The oldest winery found thus far is in Ancient Armenia. It dates back over seven thousand years ago.

#2: The Pharaohs Used Wine in Ceremonies

By the time the pharaohs rose to power around 3100 B.C., wineries and vineyards around the world had been in operation for over a thousand years. The pharaohs, it seems, were both familiar with and big fans of wine. They immediately began making a wine-like substance from grapes. Because of wine’s resemblance to blood, the pharaohs often used it in ceremonies.Later, the pharaohs would come into contact with both the Jews and Phoenicians – two cultures for whom wine is very important. The Phoenicians, in particular, would be responsible for spreading wine around the world.

#3: The Phoenicians Are Responsible For Wine As We Know It Today

Without the Phoenicians, we wouldn’t have wine as we know it today.

The Phoenicians were major players in the ancient Mediterranean. An independent collection of city-states, Phoenicia was a trading empire that lasted almost a thousand years, spreading people, goods, and ideas around the world. Their trading territory stretched from the Middle East to North Africa to Greece and Italy.

One of the goods that the Phoenicians often brought with them was wine, which they transported in ceramic jugs. They also brought grapevines on their voyages, leading to new crops of grapes popping up in previously untouched areas. Without the Phoenicians, wine may never have reached such a large percentage of the world’s population.

#4: Three Cheers for the God(s) of Wine!

The Greeks learned about wine initially from the Phoenicians. However, the Greeks quickly began putting their own spin on the beverage, growing the grape on their sunny lands and perfecting different forms of the drink. Wine quickly became a symbol for trade, religion, and health in ancient Greece.

The cult of Dionysus appeared from that mindset: Dionysus was the Greek god of wine and worshipped with vigor by many Greeks.

Like the Phoenicians, the Greeks brought wine with them wherever they went – including on their conquest missions around the Mediterranean. As the Greek city-states colonized land around the Meditteranean, they brought wine with them.

#5: Wine Didn’t Come to the Americas Until the Fifteenth Century

Before the arrival of European colonizers, wine in its current form did not exist in the “Ne World.” Conquistadors first brought wine to Mexico and Brazil, where the drink quickly became popular and took on new forms. Wine quickly took off after that, with Mexico and Brazil remaining as the origin points of the spread.

Despite the fact that Europeans brought wine to the New World, the Americas actually had tons of grape crops already. In fact, the Vikings initially called North America “Vinland” since it was so covered in grape vines. It wasn’t until 1562, however, that the French Huguenots created the first wine in the United States near what is now Jacksonville, Florida.

Pour One Out For History!

This summer, while you’re tossing back a light rose with your friends, remember the history of wine – the only drink in the world that may, in fact, be more important than water.

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