Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cheers to National Wine Day

This Friday, May 25, 2012 is National Wine Day in the U.S.  Although the origins of the holiday are unclear, the purpose is self explanatory, a day set aside to celebrate wine!

Wine has been enjoyed throughout the world for centuries. The earliest known production of wine dates back to around 6000 BC.  Evidence was found near the boarders of what is now Georgia and Iran.  The oldest known winery was discovered in a cave in the mountains of Armenia.

The earliest wine production in Europe, dates back 6,500 years ago, and was discovered at an archaeological site in northern Greece near Macedonia.

 Wine was very common in Ancient Greece and Rome, playing an important part in religion.  Wine was known as the "Juice of the Gods.” (And rightly so ; )

For the Greeks, Dionysus was the god of wine and revelry.  Dionysus was worshipped from c. 1500 – 1100 BC.  He is a popular figure of Greek mythology and religion, and his festivals were the reason for the development of Greek theatre.

Bacchus was the god of wine for the Romans.  He reigned over the grape harvest, winemaking, and the resulting frenzied festivals that occurred.  Bacchus was believed to be a divine being who could communicate with both the living and the dead.

Apparently the Romans also knew how to bottle wine.  A 1,650 year old bottle of wine, the oldest one ever to be discovered, was found in 1867 during a dig in Speyer, Germany. It was located inside a Roman stone sarcophagus. The bottle has been on display at Germany’s History Museum of the Pfalz for over one hundred years.

During this early ‘wine period,’ winemaking technology improved tremendously in the ancient world.  The wine press underwent great changes and barrels were developed for storing and shipping wines.

Even in Egypt, wine played an important part in daily ceremonial life and became a part of the Egyptians recorded history.

By the Middle Ages, wine was the common drink for all social classes.  It was used for the celebration of Catholic Mass, with the Benedictine Monks producing most of the wine for this purpose.  Housewives made their own wines and served them at every meal.  Wine was watered down with 4 parts water to one part wine for everyday use.

Throughout history, Europe has always been known as the premier wine region.  In fact, American wines were looked down upon throughout the world until 36 years ago.  It was during the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976, when French wine judges selected, during two blind wine judgings, American wines as the winners in both competitions!! (See Bottle Shock,, the movie.) Thus began the serious consideration, and appreciation, of American wines by the rest of the world.

So plan to lift a glass and celebrate National Wine Day this Friday.  Visit Local Wine Events, to see what’s going on in your area this weekend. Or check with local wineries and vineyards to see if they have any events planned.

Every bottle of wine has a story to tell – so this Friday, listen carefully as those celebrated grapes tell all!  And while you’re at it, rent the wine movie, Bottle Shock and celebrate the arrival of American wines on the worldwide stage – again!!