From the Roman Empire to the New World – a brief history of wine.
Wine is now cemented in our daily lives and culture, but this hasn’t always been the case. It was perhaps the expansion of the Roman Empire across Europe which widened its reach to the uninitiated, resulting in a vast array of wine regions which we are all familiar with today.
In Roman times wine was made using a rudimentary appellation system which became progressively refined as each region specialised in its own wine making techniques. When wine making spread through Europe to France, Spain, Germany and even the UK, it soon become the accepted drink to have with meals, as there was still no readily available source of clean water in most new towns. Wines at this time were mainly stored in barrels and a stronger, heavier wine was favoured by partakers.
It was perhaps the husbandry of vineyards by select groups across the continent which led to the fine wines we all know and love toady. The Benedictine monks for example were one of France’s largest producers of wines and had vineyards in Burgundy, Champagne and Bordeaux. After around the 16th century wine became a thing of great pride and wealth, with many houses having vast stores of fine wine. But it was only in the 17th century that the corked wine bottle as we know it first appeared, which led to the easy transportation and the production of vast quantities which made their way across Europe and beyond. Wine was traded with settlers in the New World for coffee and other commodities and it quickly became as easy to trade as it was to drink.
Even though the wine industry was now firmly part of European tradition the wine industry was not without its problems however. A disease in the late 19th century just about wiped out many vineyards across Europe leading to resistant hybrid varieties being introduced, many of which we know and love today.
In the last century wine making has been revolutionised and is now more of a science than an art form. Advances in fermentation, refrigeration and the introduction of harvesting machines and industrialisation has allowed vineyards to grow in size and production to increase, meaning the majority of us can now taste some amazing wines at amazing prices. But perhaps the most important characteristics of wine and one which we hope will last are the individuality, character and taste of wines produced in different regions because this is why so many people love the wine drunk in homes across the world today.