Tag Archives: ancient wine

Winebits 553: Ancient wine, wine facts, wine’s popularity

ancient wine

This week’s wine news: Archaeologists have uncovered an ancient wine bottling plant, plus wine facts you don’t need to know and wine remains less popular than beer.

Corks or scewcaps? The Reuters news service reports that relics from an 1,800-year-old large-scale wine jug factory have been uncovered in Israel. Pottery shards, presumably from flawed and discarded jugs, were found at the site near Gedara, about 30 minutes south of Tel Aviv. The factory was active for around 600 years, making vessels for storing wine that were popular export items, the Israel Antiquities Authority said in statement. “The ongoing manufacturing may point to this having been a family business, handed down from generation to generation.” No word on whether the wine bottled at the site was reviewed by the Roman Winestream Media. I mention this because the time frame for the remains roughly coincides with the Roman occupation of that part of the world, and so much else about this place sounds similar to the way the wine business works today. So why not 88 points from Pliny?

Forget about it: The Huffington Post, trying to make wine less difficult, offers insight into common wine knowledge that no one really needs to know. The first one? Forget scores. The other four points also make good sense, including the uselessness of vintages for the wine that most of us drink, plus the foolishness of tasting notes “written by a corporation or a publication,” which are “pretty much useless.” It’s good to know I’m not the only one who has figured this out.

It’s still beer: Americans still prefer beer over wine, according to the latest soundings from Gallup. Beer is at 42 percent, wine is at 34 percent, and spirits are at 19 percent. That’s a bit of bump for wine, which was at 26 percent in 2017. Wine passed beer briefly in 2007. but has been in second place since. My other favorite part of the Gallup drinking surveys? One-third of Americans say they don’t imbibe, a number that has remained stunningly consistent for decades.

Winebits 529: Ancient wine, wine on airplanes, bootlegged wine

ancient wineThis week’s wine news: The history of wine may be older than we think, plus Alaska Airlines offers free wine shipping and Canadians enjoy bootlegged wine

Very, very old: Scientists have discovered wine residue in clay pots more than 5,000 years old. If it is wine, will force archaeologists to reconsider how long we’ve been making and drinking wine. This discovery, in caves under the Monte Kronio volcano in Sicily (along with a similar find in the republic of Georgia), means wine use may be a couple of thousand years older than believed. Even more amazing, the wine in the caves may have been part of a complex system of international trade, bringing copper goods to Sicily in exchange for wine. And without the three-tier system, too.

Free shipping: Who knew airline free wine shipping would be a draw? But Alaska Airlines thinks it is, part of their “Wine Flies Free” program. Those of us who travel to wine regions served by Alaska, which includes parts of California and the Pacific Northwest, can check a case of wine without paying the fee. You have to belong to the airline’s frequent flyer program, but that’s about the only condition save whether your state allows it.

Not in my province: Canadians, who usually seem more sensible about these things, are embroiled in a trade war over wine and oil. The province of Alberta, which has the oil, wants to build a pipeline through neighboring British Columbia, which has the wine but doesn’t want the pipeline. The premier of Alberta has imposed an embargo on B.C. wine until the latter allows the pipeline. In other words, much U.S.-style foolishness – and even someone trying to make money off the embargo. The Calgary Herald reports that a luxury wine tour company, Butiq Escapes, is offering a “B.C. Wine Smuggling Escape for Albertans,” complete with private jet to fly you to B.C. wine country.

Ancient Hebrews: “If there is any wine send it”

ancients hebrews wine

Now where did I put that wine requisition?

2,600-year-old inscription offers view of ancient Hebrew wine world without three-tier, wine scores, and restaurant markups

We tend to forget, given the foolishness that consumes the post-modern wine business, that wine is nothing new. I always tell my El Centro students that the French wine industry dates to the 12th century; one reason Henry II of England married Eleanor of Aquitaine was for her dowry, which included Bordeaux’s vineyards.

So I was both pleased and not surprised to see that Hebrew soldiers, stationed in a fortress in the ancient kingdom of Judah around 600 BC, included wine in a supply requisition. Researchers found the request on a pottery shard discovered in 1965, and used advances in imaging techniques to decipher what had not been legible for the past 52 years.

The supply request, addressed to a quartermaster, included information about paying for supplies, as well as making sure the soldiers had enough flour, oil, and wine. In other words, not that much different than one of today’s supermarkets ordering from its distributor.

The shard inscription, however, left several key questions unanswered:

• How did the wine trade survive without the three-tier system? Is this one explanation for the Babylonian conquest of Judah, which occurred around the time the inscription was written?

• How did the quartermaster determine wine quality? The deciphered inscription, just 17 words, doesn’t include wine scores or tasting notes. Again, was the failure to include these another key to Judah’s destruction?

• Also missing: any information about wine pricing and markups. Did the Judah military buy at wholesale, or was it forced to pay restaurant-style markups? If so, did the latter and its exorbitant costs bankrupt the military and lead to the country’s downfall?