The effects of wine have long been revered and worshipped. The Greeks worshipped Bacchus, the God of Wine and the Romans continued this tradition. The earliest signs of winemaking date right back to 6000 BC in Georgia in Russia and around 5000 BC in Iran. Religion has continued to make wine important with the Christian Eucharist and ritual wine has been part of the Jewish faith since biblical times.
During the Middle Ages, wine was the most common drink among all social classes in southern Europe. Where there were no vineyards, in the north and east, ale and beer were much more common. Wine was exported but was prohibitively expensive. Some wine needed to make it through however for use in the Catholic Church. The Benedictine monks became one of the largest producers of wine in France and Germany. They also owned land in the Champagne region and Dom Perignon was actually the name of a Benedictine monk! In Germany, the first Riesling was planted in 1435, which was to become the most important German grape.
As Europe expanded in the 15th century, so too did wine production. It suffered a temporary setback during the 1887 louse infestation in which aphids attacked grapevines but managed to continue and adapt through use of modern science and technology to create the industrial production and huge consumption that we see today. For Online wine merchants in Northern Ireland, visit http://thewinecompanyni.com/.
The louse that brought widespread devastation to grapevines, wine production and many livelihoods meant the loss of several indigenous grape varieties in Europe. Thankfully, lessons learned from the outbreak helped to improve and transform the European wine industry. Bad vineyards were dug out and put to use for cows which eventually produced some of the best butter and cheese to ever come out of France. During this devastating period, it was discovered that Native American vines were immune to the pest. Some French-American hybrids were grown but more importantly was the practice of grafting European grapevines to American rootstocks to protect vineyards from the pest. This practice still happens today when the pest is present.
European grapes were first brought to what is now Mexico by the Spanish conquistadors, so as to carry out the Catholic Holy Eucharist. They were planted at Spanish missions and one variety called the Mission grape is still planted in small amounts today. As more immigrants arrived from France, Germany and Italy, more and more grapes came with them so it is no surprise that in the 16th century, Mexico became the most important wine producer. So much so that it started to have an adverse effect on Spanish commercial production. The King of Spain soon put a stop to that!
Nowadays, wine from the Americas is more associated with Chile, Argentina and California. Most of this production is based on Old World grape varieties that they have adopted. For example, California’s Zinfandel is originally from Croatia and Southern Italy. Argentina’s Malbec and Chile’s Carmenere are both from France originally.