Since wine goes back thousands of years, it's really impossible to pinpoint who invented wine. You can, however, isolate various stories about the origins of wine.
The Origin of Wine
Answering the question "Who invented wine?" isn't really possibly because scientists and historians alike believe wine was not really invented, it was more discovered than anything. Basically, they believe that the discovery of wine was made by ancient peoples when they found their grapes had spoiled and fermented, creating fermented grape juice. Many believe that this is when the wine-making process was invented, and this is where most stories about the origins of wine begin. First, some historical and archaeological facts before delving into myth and fables.
Wine Discovery History
Here are a few of the key points in wine's long history:
- Scientists have dated fossilized grape seeds at 66 million years old.
- Archeologists have discovered evidence of winemaking occurring around 8,000 years ago in Tbilisi, Georgia. They found pottery decorated with fruit, and pollen analysis showed evidence of grape cultivation.
- The Hajji Firuz Tepe wine jar, found in modern day Iran, is one of the oldest pieces of archaeological evidence of wine making. The Hajji Firuz Tepe wine jar, along with a wine press, known to be a wine press due to its tartaric crystal and tannin residue, was dated to 6000 B.C.
- There were no written records about viticulture or wine making for nearly 5,000 years. The craft of making wine was passed down for generations through families and apprenticeships.
- Historians believe that Phoenicians were the ones who spread their wine making knowledge to ancient Greece and Italy.
- Christian monks are credited with France's reputation as one of the best wine making countries in the world. It was their meticulous records about grape varietals, terroir, and growing methods that allowed France to perfect and develop its wine making skills.
Wine Myths and Fables
There are a few well known wine myths and fables that credit different parts of the world for the invention, or discovery, of wine. Here are a few of the more popular stories.
This is arguably one of the most well known wine fables. In Greek mythology, Dionysus, son of Zeus and his mistress Semele, invented wine while living in the ancient Mount Nysa amongst nymphs. This is one of the reasons why Dionysus is often referred to as the "God of Wine."
The Persian Woman
This story of the Persian woman and fermented grapes has many folklorists crediting a woman for inventing wine. It has at least two different versions. Here they are:
A Persian Princess had found herself out of favor with the King of Persia. Upon hearing this news, she attempted to commit suicide by consuming a jar of spoiled grapes. Instead of dying, she found herself feeling better and acting a lot happier. Eventually she passed out, but when she woke up, she found that the King liked her new attitude so much that he admitted her back into his good graces.
A Persian woman found herself sick with a headache and drank a from a jar she used to store grapes. The grapes in the jar had fermented, the woman became intoxicated and passed out. When she woke, her headache was gone.
Let's Just Say…
Since no two stories will ever agree on who invented wine, let's just say that the world invented it. Though there are ways to carbon date the oldest wine bottles and new archaeological discoveries regarding wine are being made, there is just no way of proving who invented wine first. So next time you are enjoying a glass of your favorite wine, raise it up and give a nod to the Persian Princess, Dionysus, or whomever, in thanks that the wine you love so much was even discovered.