Humans have been drinking wine for millions of years, but we didn't start making it until somewhat recently. The earliest evidence of winemaking appears in China around 7,000 BCE, but Europe refused to be left out of the fun. Georgian and Armenian winemakers were perfecting the craft as early as 6,000 BCE.
Needless to say, European wine history goes way, way back. It's hard to say which country has the best wines in Europe when buying great wines direct. Some say France, others say Spain, others Italy.
Regardless of which country you choose, European wine is the best in the world--with South America being a close second. If you plan to buy wine online from foreign countries, then learn a bit about the roots of one of the oldest human crafts. Read on for your definitive guide on European wine history.
Wine History Begins in Georgia
As we said above, the best wines in Europe began at its easternmost reaches. Early caucus peoples in Georgia began to perfect their viticulture with clay pots buried in the ground.
These huge pots allowed grapes to ferment through the winter. Come spring, the Georgians dug them up and got straight to the drinking. In fact, some of the best wines in Eastern Europe are still made using this method.
This method was effective, but geography played a more important role. Georgia and other caucus countries have been essential trade hubs throughout history. This was the region where Asia met Europe.
Thanks to their critical geopolitical position, Georgian wine--and its methods--spread across the world. Around 5,000 BCE, you could already find wine in places as far-flung as Greece and Iran.
Armenians Perfected the Process
Humans were still experimenting with viticulture at this point. Making wine was akin to tossing some grapes in a vessel and waiting for them to ferment. Thanks to Armenians, the process evolved.
It was they who created the first winery. Archaeological evidence proves they learned to press grapes and ferment them in vats.
At this point in history, most wine was red. But some evidence from Ancient Egypt suggests early evidence of white wine.
You can thank the Egyptians for wine, too. Due to Phoenician trading and empire, wine made its way to Greece. And it's there where the next point in our journey begins.
Wine History Continues in Greece
If you ever buy Greek wines online, know that you're buying the culmination of a rich tradition. Greece is single-handedly responsible for the promulgation of wine into Europe, where it really kicked off.
At first, the Greeks only used wine in religious ceremonies. You can even see it in Greek mythology, such as with the god Bacchus. Wine was a luxury, and even a currency in some regards.
Later in the Mycenaean and Minoan period, it became commonplace. Wine effectively created a new class of merchants that had not existed before. Common people, even war refugees, could become wealthy winemakers and traders.
The Greek empire expanded, bringing viticulture with it. Greeks began to settle in Italy and Sicily, and soon realized they'd stumbled upon wine country. Greek wines online take on a whole new meaning knowing it was the Greeks who made Italy a wine capital!
The Greeks loved Italian soil, naming it "Oenotria," which roughly translates to land of wine. To be clear, Greece had excellent winemaking climates in Attica and Santorini. But their "wine colonisation" pushed all the way to Marseille, France.
Greeks were all about composure and self-control. In an effort to maintain this, they watered down much of their wine. If the Ancient Greeks could have their way, Greek wines online would probably be diluted!
They also tried new things. They would mix wine with salt water for a unique taste. Or, they would sweeten their wines with honey and spices.
Make no mistake, the Greeks loved their wine. They even had events specifically for drinking it; the word symposium originally meant this. But drunkenness was anathema at the time.
So when you buy great wines direct, consider being judicious with your consumption. That way you'll get a real Greek experience.
The Romans Bring Wines to the Whole World
Greek wines online have a fascinating history, but it really gets interesting when Romans appear on the scene. The Romans had one of the largest empires ever, and they loved wine as much as the Greeks. In fact, they planted grape seeds everywhere they went, from Northern Africa to Wales.
It's safe to say that the best wines in Europe wouldn't exist without the Roman Empire. Thanks to Roman trading and cultivation, wines spread across Europe and the world.
Even though wine was accessible to the common man, it was still highly valuable. It promoted trade and served as a form of currency. Many Roman soldiers received their pay in wine, similar to grog for British Navymen.
The Roman Empire Falls, but Wine Does Not
Wine was too beloved to die alongside the corpse of the Roman empire. Those blasted barbarians that the Romans conquered continue the tradition. Italy, France, Spain, and others took what they learned and perfected it.
For example, they learned to store wine in tinted glass bottles to protect them from sun exposure--as well as corking them shut. At the end of the Middle Ages, winemakers introduced sulphur dioxide to reduce wine oxidation.
Some innovations had less to do with the wine and more to do with the industry. The phylloxera plague decimated vineyards and led to a dearth of the best wines in Europe. To combat this, winemakers grafted a new strain into their vineyards that still protects them from those pests to this very day.
Even in the modern age, European wine continues to evolve and advance. When you buy wine online, whether it's Italian or Greek wines online, you enjoy modern innovations.
Stock Up Your Chiller With Great Wines Direct
Wine history is a fascinating one, no matter which part of the globe you examine. The best wines in Europe go all the way back to 6,000 BCE with Stone Age Georgian winemaking. Thanks to the Greeks and Romans, viticulture exploded in Europe and improves to this day.
Looking for Greek wines online? Get the best wines in Europe with Great Wines Direct. Buy wine online from independent winemakers who carry on the tradition.