The history of wine spans thousands of years and is closely intertwined with the history of agriculture,cuisine,civilization and humanity itself. Archaeological idence suggests that the earliest wine production came from sites in Georgia and Iran, dating from 6000 to 5000 BC. The archaeological evidence becomes clearer and points to domestication of grapevine in Early Bronze Age sites of the Near East,Sumer and Egypt from around the third millennium BC. Evidence of the earliest European wine roduction has been uncovered at archaeological sites in Macedonia, dated to 6,500 years ago. These same sites also contain remnants of the world's earliest evidence of crushed grapes. In Egypt,wine became a part of recorded history,playing an importantrole in ancient ceremonial life. Traces of wild wine datingfrom the second and first millennium BC have also been found in China.
Wine was common in classical Greece and Rome and many of the major wine producing regions of Western Europe today were established with Phoenician and later Roman plantations. Wine making technology, such as the wine press,improved considerably during the time of the Roman Empire; many grape varietiesand cultivation techniques were known and barrels were developed for storing and shipping wine.
In medieval Europe, following the decline of Rome and therefore of widespread wine production, the Christian Church became a staunch supporter of the wine necessary for celebration of theCatholic Mass. Whereas wine was also forbidden in medieval Islamic cultures, Geber and other Muslim chemists pioneered the distillation of wine for medicinal purposes and its use in Christian libation was widely tolerated. Wine production gradually increased and its consumption became popularized from the 15th century onwards, survivingthe devastating Phylloxera louse of the 1870s and eventually establishing growing regions throughout the world..
In many respects it took much of the 20th century for the wine world to recover from the crisis of the late 19th century. After World War I, wine consumption in Europe grew to great heights, but the wine itself was very poor. Even great wines---from Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhein and Mosel---sold for low prices.The brightest spots were the New World vineyards of western USA, Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand where immigrants from Europe's wine lands developedvirgin soils in benign imates. The struggle to recover from phylloxera and economiccrisis led to the growth of regulation over wine and vineyard. The French system of appellations of origin (AOC), and the others around the world that have been based upon it stemmed from a desire to combat fraud. This took the form of passing off ordinary wines under great names. After World War I the French government put the AOC system in place. This guarantees authenticity and controls quality.
Science began to influence wine, with research programmes into vine breeding, fermentation and cellar management.With knowledge came control and yields became larger and more predictable. At the same time worldwide fashion for wine drinking took off. Countries which had not drunk wine on a large scale-England, USA, Canada, the Scandinavian nations-gained the wine habit. The classic vineyards were able to match with copious and excellent vintages. Top wines from the New World began to match the European classic's quality and enlarge the frontiers of taste. For wine makers, the late 20th century has been a time of prosperity. For the wine drinker it has been the golden age with more and more good wine at relatively cheaper prices than ever before. The future promises to bring yet more wine producing countries into the already crowded market place. For the wine drinker, more and better wine at lower prices is the prospect. For the wine maker the demands will be great.