History of wine
Since the dawn of time, vine and wine have left their mark on all civilisations. Not only they have shaped the landscapes and fostered commerce, but they also have contributed to forging mythologies and religions, traditions and dietary habits. Let’s have a look at the history of wine and its influence on the history of mankind.
The history of viticulture
The history of wine begins with the progressive transition of wild vine into cultivated vine, presumably in the seventh millennium before Christ.
Vine appeared 7000 years BC in the Caucasus and in Mesopotamia. It was domesticated by the people of Western Asia (the Sumerians, Babylonians and Assyrians).
Since 3000 before Christ, it was cultivated in Egypt and Phoenicia.
The Mediterranean basin, where the culture of vine completely blossomed under Greek and Roman impulsions, is the cradle of the civilisation of wine.
Vineyards conquered Sicily and Southern Italy, then Southern France and Spain before expanding towards the interior of the European continent.
After the discovery of America by Christopher Colombus on October 12, 1492, wine began to capture the new world.
Vineyards spread on this new continent, then in Southern Africa, Australia and New-Zeland.
The origin of French vineyard
The first French vineyard was implanted in Massalia, present-day city of Marseille, 600 years before Christ.
The vine was brought there by the Phocaeans, but it was the Romans who widespread the culture of vine all across Gaul up to Great Britain.
During the First Century, vine spread all over the Rhone Valley.
It appeared in Bourgogne and in the Bordeaux region in the 2nd century, reached the Loire Valley in the 3rd century, then the region of Champagne and the Moselle valley in the 4th century.
The region of Paris was one of the biggest French wine regions for a long time.
Gauls contributed to the history of wine in France by improving the process of vinification using oak barrels for wine aging.
However, the wine we know today appeared in the Middle Ages (in ancient times, wine was blended with water and flavored with herbs, honey and spices).
Christianity also contributed to propagating vineyards and wine in France by supporting episcopal and monastic viticulture.
In the Middle Ages, France was the first wine exporter.
Wine and civilisation
The history of wine partly mingles with the history of Western civilisations.
Wine, synonymous with exhilaration, conviviality and the art of living, always had a symbolic value, and even a religious signification.
Before it became a fundamental element of Christian symbolism and an essential ingredient of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, wine was associated with the gods Bacchus or Dionysos.
Source of inspiration for Greco-Latin poets and painters, it also became the emblem of French culture, of its art of living and its gastronomy.