A Brief History of Wine: Its Origin and Evolution

by Kelvin Teo | Last Updated: May 31, 2021

Wine has been around for centuries and is seen as an important beverage in many cultures — from the ancient Greeks to today’s modern society. It’s hard to imagine a world without wine, especially since it has become an art form and a way of life for many people.

In this post, we’ll explore some of the most interesting facts about wine around the world including its origins and how it evolved through time.

In Ancient Cultures: Where it Began

Ancient Wines

Modern-day wine enthusiasts owe a lot of their knowledge to archaeological evidence from as far back 7000 BC. Archaeological remains in different regions show that humans have been producing alcohol since ancient times and using it for celebrations, medicine or food production!

7000 BC: Likely The First Documented Evidence

Most people think wine originated in ancient Greece, but that’s not quite true. The first documented evidence of wine comes from the ancient tribes of Jiahu in the Yellow River Valley of China around 7000 BC. It was made by using rice as a base ingredient mixed with grape juice (likely fermented).

6100 BC: Oldest Winery

In January 2011, researchers discovered what they believe to be the world’s oldest winery.

The site, found in an Armenian cave, dates back over 8000 years ago with grape presses, wine jugs and some liquid inside them. The remnants of grapes scattered around also suggested that there were clearly more people drinking than doing any farming here.

1600 BC: Wine Transportation

There are many ways wine was transported. Amphorae and goatskins were two of the most popular methods used by ancient Greeks.

Amphoras were ancient vessels that could hold up to 20 gallons of wine apiece, and they are often seen as the vessels used for transporting wine back then. They would be filled with a specific vintage from its home country before being sealed off tightly by mashing down on it until all air was pushed out through the opening at one end, creating an airtight seal; this helped keep wines fresher during transportation across land or sea.

900 BC: Wine Storage in Barrels

The Iron Age in Northern Europe was a time when barrels were the preferred container to store and ship wine. Today, barrels are still used in winemaking for storage and oxidizing wines like sherry or port.

Are You Storing Your Wine Wrongly?

If you want to enjoy your glass of wine to the fullest, proper storage is a must. This detailed guide reveals how you can store your prized bottles optimally.

200 BC: The Romans and Their Wine

To say that wine is an important part of the Roman culture would be a gross understatement. Romans were required to drink one litre of wine per day and they even had their own deity for it!

The logic behind this is that the alcohol helps them get through their long days and difficult nights without falling asleep on duty.

AD 70: First Wine Critic

Pliny the Elder, a Roman naturalist and polymath who lived from 23 AD to 79 AD wrote about Rome’s top wine regions in his 37-volume encyclopedia, Naturalis Historia (Natural History).

Pliny The Elder's Natural History
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Introduced and selected by John F. Healy.

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The Modern Age

Modern Wine

AD 1000: The Oldest Operating Winery in France Was Built

The Château de Goulaine is regarded as the oldest operating winery in France. It has been producing wine for over 400 years and still maintains a traditional, hands-on approach to making it’s wines today.

1500s – 1600s: The Common Grape Vine Was Introduced to the Americas

It can be easy to overlook the humble grape but, as anyone who’s ever had a sip of wine knows, grapes are more than just an important part of our diet. Vitis Vinifera, the common grape vine, was first introduced to Mexico and Brazil by Spanish explorers in 1524. In case you do not know, the wines we love today come from this vine.

These grape vines spread throughout the Americas over time until they became not only staples for their diets but also powerful symbols that represent both cultural heritage and pride.

1650: Cabernet Sauvignon Was Born

Cabernet Sauvignon is a wine grape that originated in the Bordeaux region of France and was brought to America during colonial times by French settlers.

This rich, lush red has become one of California’s most popular grapes with great success at home and abroad.

1659: Vin De Constance Was Created in South Africa

Grape vines are first introduced to the country and since then, it has become one of their most popular wines.

1718: Dom Perignon Establishes New Winemaking Rules

The rules warned against using white grapes (Chardonnay) to make wine as they will cause it to re-ferment and become sparkling, which is considered a wine fault.

1740: Wine bottles were redesigned

The original design of wine bottles before this period was to stand them up. However, this makes it difficult for wine to age over a long term period because the liquid would evaporate and gradually decrease in flavor.

This year saw the introduction of a laid-down design that would allow wines to age properly for many years, even decades.

Mid-1800s to 1900s

Sparkling wines became popular in Champagne.

Louis Pasteur discovered that oxygen was bad for wine. When he published his findings about how important it is to keep air away from the liquid through packaging and storage containers like bottles or barrels, people soon adapted their business practices to what we see today: no longer using corked-closures; opting instead for screw caps or corks with synthetic materials such as Teflon being used to seal them off tightly so precious liquids can be preserved indefinitely.

In 1890, Zinfadel became the most planted grape in America.

1900 – Today

In 1920, the U.S. Prohibition nearly eradicated wine. Churches were able to subsist on grape juice while most wineries closed down. Because of this, most wines made in America come from vines planted after the Prohibition, which means they are not more than 90 years old.

Within the century, we also see the first boxed wine produced, the first mechanized harvested commissioned in New York and the introduction of The Wine Advocate, a monthly publication that reviews wines and publishes scores from 1 to 100 on every wine rated in order of quality.

In 2000, France became the largest producer of wine in the world.

In 2013, China became the world’s largest consumer of dry red wines.

Kelvin Teo founded Filled With Wine™ because one summer night, he noticed that his glass of wine tasted funny. It was only after he discovered that he stored his bottle wrongly that he realised the importance of proper wine storage. Since then, he has taken the art of wine drinking seriously and is now on a quest to help fellow wine lovers achieve the best drinking experience possible.