, From Italy with Wine: From Italy with Wine - History of wine in Italy

Monday, July 10, 2017

From Italy with Wine - History of wine in Italy


Just before start with the part related to the different and interesting Italian wine zones, we want to introduce you a brief historical description of diffusion of wine in Italy during different centuries. We hope you can approve it, and in any case please put your comment below (also critical) so we can adjust and improve our posts!!

Wild vines existed even before the appearance of man on Earth, as evidenced by the finding of fossil vines about 60 million years ago. They grew up in the forests that covered the temperate areas of the planet and, to reach the light, climbed upward.


The most recent history is that of wine, which is characterized by the possibility of "getting alone", since the fermentation of sugars and the transformation of alcohol can start already in the mouth thanks to natural yeasts. Thanks to these natural phenomena, 10000 years ago, Caucasus residents managed to produce wild-wine wine, as evidenced by recent archaeological studies. The very sour taste was attenuated with water, honey, and aromas, and it was very successful for the state of impotence it caused, attributed to divine intervention.
Many centuries had to spend before going to the vineyards. Between 4000 BC And in the 3000 BC, in the present territories of Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Egypt, nomadic populations became permanent and devoted themselves to agriculture, from harvesting shrubs to harvesting fruit from cultivated plants.


From 1600 BC, with the rise of Greek civilization, vine spread in Mediterranean countries. Wine was a ritual drink, with which they celebrated victories, worshiped the gods, and celebrated the festivities. Subsequently, the cult of wine spread in the Roman Empire, a set of status symbols, medicine, mythical drink and drink for important occasions, such as when sealed treats.
In Valdarno Superiore, around Montevarchi (AR), they were found in lignite deposits, fossil vineyards (Vitis Vinifera) dating to 2 million years ago. 





Various archaeological finds show that Vitis vinifera grew spontaneous 300,000 years ago. Recent studies tend to associate the first tasters of this drink with the Neolithic; It is thought that the discovery was random and due to natural fermentation in containers where the men laid the grapes. The oldest traces of vine cultivation have been found on the banks of the Caspian Sea and East Turkey.
Scientists who in the twentieth century sought to find out how much the earth hides at the sight of men casually came across the oldest jar of wine ever found. In fact, in 1996, an American archaeological mission from the University of Pennsylvania led by Mary Voigt discovered a 9-liter pottery jar of Hajji Firuz Tepe in the northern part of Iran, containing a dry substance from grape bunches. The news, of October 15, 2002, adds that the findings found date back to 5100 BC, so 7000 years ago, but the specialists claim that the wine was produced for the first time, perhaps by accident, between 9 and 10000 Years ago in the Caucasus area. It seems that the first wine has been produced entirely by chance (as was the case for leavened bread) for the accidental fermentation of grapes left in a container.
It is, however, established that large-scale production of wine began shortly after the 3000 BC, therefore about 5000 years ago.
The first documents concerning the cultivation of the vine date back to 1700 BC, but it is only with the Egyptian civilization that the cultivation of the crops and consequently the production of wine are in progress.
It is easy to imagine that once in the Neolithic, when agriculture was born, man would gather the clusters and place them in containers in which spontaneously, by the colonizing action of natural yeast fermenters, the juice of the must fermented.
Once experimented with the ethanol-based ethanol, man and wine became friends for life.
The event is likely to have taken place in the center of origin of the vine, in the Caucasus, and subsequently spread to the Mediterranean. Homer witnesses telling Odysseus that he releases Polifemo by drunk it with fermented must obtained from grapes already in the Cyclope grotto.
This story highlights two things:
1. In the Mediterranean, the vine, under other similar wild forms, was already present and cultivated, probably only for fresh consumption,
2. The winemaking process was completely ignored.
Odysseus and comrades, however, exploited the knowledge of this technology as an expedition to escape.
At the same time, in the heart of the Mediterranean, the vine began its journey to Europe from Sicily, spreading first to the Sabini and then to the Etruscans who became skilled cultivators and winemakers and widened the cultivation of grapes from Campania to the Padana plain .
In the ancient Romans vinification was of great importance only after the conquest of Greece. Initial detachment changed in great love to the point of inserting Bacchus into the Young of the Gods and to be promoters of the spread of viticulture in all provinces of the empire. Wine, on the other hand, contributed to the birth of the Roman Empire, for the Romans were aware of the bacteric properties of wine and, as customary, carried it in their campaigns as a drink of the legionners. Plutarch tells that Caesar sold wine to his soldiers in order to eradicate a disease that was decimating the army.
The Bible (Genesis 9: 20-27) attributes the discovery of the process of wine processing to Noah: after the Universal Flood, he would plant a vineyard whose fruit made of the wine he drank until he got drunk. Jesus Christ chose wine as a species under which, in the sacrament of the Eucharist, His blood is hidden "for the new eternal alliance, poured out for you and for all in remission of sins."
Under the Roman Empire there was a further boost to wine production, which went from being an elite product to becoming a daily drink. During this period, vine crops spread to much of the territory (particularly in Italy, Gallia Narbonensis, Hispania, Achaia and Syria), and with the increase in production, consumption increased.

However, the wine produced at that time was very different from the drink we know today.
Due to conservation techniques (especially boiling), the wine was a syrupy, very sweet and very alcoholic substance. It was therefore necessary to stretch it with water and add honey and spice to obtain a more pleasant flavor.
The widespread cultivation of the vine was drastically blocked and destroyed by barbarian invasions, but survived thanks to the monasteries who used wine for the sacred rite of the Eucharist. It was thanks to ecclesiastical communities, in the Benedictine and Cistercian abbeys, that from the 6th century AD. The viticulture practices again developed, selecting the best terrains on which they created the most suitable vineyards for the production of fine grapes.
With the collapse of the Roman Empire, viticulture enters a crisis from which it will only emerge in the Middle Ages, thanks mainly to the impetus given by the Benedictine and Cistercian monks. In the same Rule, Benedict states:
"It is well known that wine to monks does not agree; But because our times are difficult for the monks to be persuaded, we also allow this, but it does not drink until satiety. »
Gian Battista Vico has seen in the medieval conception of wine as a kind of necessity a character of the barbarism of this age. 
Just during the Middle Ages will be born all those techniques of cultivation and production that will come practically unchanged until the eighteenth century, when the production is now "modern". This is due to the stabilization of the quality and taste of wines, as well as the introduction of glass bottles and cork stoppers.
The discovery of America in 1492 began the formation of the great empires of Spain, Portugal, France, England and Holland, spreading in their colonies. It was not the case of Italy that, under Spanish domination, saw a period of great decline and production limited to local consumption.
In the seventeenth century, the great wines of Jerez, Màlaga, Madeira, Porto, Tokaji and French Champagne were born, while in the 18th century bottles were bottled in corked glass containers, allowing them to transport wine more easily and, above all, to keep it for many years. It is in this century that in Italy the quality of wine improved , albeit limited to the Venetian Republic and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
During this period the art of the "bottai" (who is making barrels) was refined, the bottles became less expensive and the cork stoppers became all this contributed to the preservation and transport of wine, favoring trade.

The nineteenth century seeks to consolidate the distinctive and extraordinary position that wine occupies in Western civilization. The peasant tradition begins to work together with the contributions of illustrious scholars who strive for the production of ever-superior quality wines and goodies. Wine becomes the subject of scientific research.
In the 19th century Italy saw the birth of the great wines Barolo and Barbaresco, Chianti and Brunello of Montalcino, while in France the enological school was born, which would teach all over the world to produce according to the characteristics we know today. However, this century is mainly characterized by an event that disrupted viticulture: the appearance of two serious diseases caused by a mushroom and a parasitic insect: oidio and phylloxera, both of which originated in America. They devastated lands all over the world and only in 1910 was found a remedy that forced to replant all the vineyards by grafting European vines on American vines (Growers are forced to graft the vines survived on vines of American origin (Vitis Labyrinth), resistant to these parasites, and to regularly use plant protection products such as sulfur.). Many varieties of grapes, however, had disappeared, greatly reducing the assortment of vines that came to us.

In 1866 L. Pasteur in his Etudes sur le vin writes "Wine is the healthiest and most hygienic of all drinks".
Recent medical studies have shown that those who travel to countries where food infections are commonly eat wine-consuming tourists are less susceptible to dysentery than those who consume water even if bottled. And this is because apart from the causes of contamination, many bacteria in the water survive and sometimes prolify while in wine they die due to some concurrent characteristics such as acidity, the presence of alcohol and tannins. Moreover, these same characteristics make wine a healthy drink for humans provided it is taken in moderate amounts (a glass of meal). Medical studies show that moderate wine consumption has positive effects on the cardiovascular system by reducing the risk of heart disease. The reason is not clear yet, but according to some, this is due to the presence of small amounts of hypocolesterinic substances that originate from tannins contained in red wines.
About 150 years have passed since the first studies of Pasteur and time has not yet denied it: to date, a pathogenic agent for man who originates from wine has never been isolated.

In the twentieth century, on the other hand, in France, the introduction of rules regulating production (controlled origin, definition of production areas, etc.), which will lead to a qualitative increase in wine production at the expense of the quantity.
The twentieth century saw changes in the wine production system, with the integration into one company of grape and wine production and the development of technical and scientific knowledge. The end of the last century in the history of enology is considered the golden age, with an astonishing improvement in the quality of wine, the great enthusiasm of wine growers, the unlimited opening of markets to quality products and the diffusion of passion for the oldest drink in the world, after water and milk. Exploring new productive realities in countries such as California, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, bringing world production to around 260 million hectoliters per year, with a surplus of about 15% on demand.
The new Community Wine Market Organization has recently entered into force in the European Union to regulate the production and sale of wine in the countries of the Union.

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