Wine

3,700-year-old cellar housed ‘luxurious’ wine

Publication: NBC News   Date: November 22, 2013   View Article

A 3,700-year-old palatial cellar packed with jars once filled with a wine-like brew has been discovered at an archaeological site in northern Israel, a team of researchers announced Friday.

The cellar is perhaps the oldest of its type ever discovered and the wine was anything but ordinary. Spiked with juniper berries, cedar oil, honey and tree resins, it was likely the good stuff pulled from the cellar for grand, royal banquets where resident rulers and perhaps their trading partners washed down a feast of wild cattle with an intoxicating swill.

Supergrapes could make good wine despite climate change

Publication: NBC News   Date: June 6, 2013   View Article

Experts say “terroir” — the geography, geology and climate of grapes’ native soils — defines the difference between good vintage and bad. But the plants’ sensitivity to their environment also means that climate change presents a massive threat to the industry and that delicate balance. However, new genetic research may stave off those worries, even as the planet warms.

Working with Corvina grapes, a team of Italian geneticists identified genes that help protect the fruit from the vagaries of the weather and could serve as a platform “for breeding new cultivars with improved adaptation to the environment,” the team reports Friday in the journal Genome Biology.

Eight ancient drinks uncorked by science

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: December 15, 2009   View Article

Throughout human history, alcoholic beverages have treated pain, thwarted infections and unleashed a cascade of pleasure in the brain that lubricates the social fabric of life, according to Patrick McGovern, an archaeochemist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

For the past several decades, McGovern’s research has focused on finding archaeological and chemical evidence for fermented beverages in the ancient world. The details are chronicled in his recently published book, “Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages.”

Ancient Egyptians Drank Medicinal Wines

Publication: By John Roach   Date: April 15, 2009   View Article

“Doctor’s orders,” the pharaohs may have said with a wink as they took swigs of wine.

At least 5,000 years ago, the ancient Egyptians had begun a long-standing tradition of infusing their libations with medicinal herbs, according to a new chemical analysis of residues on wine jugs.

The earliest written evidence for the practice comes from Egyptian papyri that date to 1850 B.C. The new find pushes archaeological evidence for medicinal wines back to 3150 B.C., the beginning of Egyptian history. The wine jar was found in the tomb of Scorpion I, one of the first pharaohs.

“It makes sense that it is part of this ongoing tradition that eventually starts to get recorded around 1850 B.C.,” Patrick McGovern, an archaeochemist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, told me.

McGovern is an expert on the origins and history of drinks that give a buzz. His new book, Uncorking the Past, is due out this fall.

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9,000 Year Old Beer Recreated From Chinese Recipe

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 18, 2005   View Article

A Delaware brewer with a penchant for exotic drinks recently concocted a beer similar to one brewed in China some 9,000 years ago.

Sam Calagione of the Dogfish Head brewery in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, used a recipe that included rice, honey, and grape and hawthorn fruits. He got the formula from archaeologists who derived it from the residues of pottery jars found in the late Stone Age village of Jiahu in northern China.

Vintage Wine Records Trace Climate Change to 1300s

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 17, 2004   View Article

Connoisseurs may pore over grape-harvest records in search of the perfect vintage of wine. But a team of French scientists and historians is toasting the same records for the insights they yield on past climate.

In Burgundy, France, as in other parts of Europe, the first officially decreed day of grape harvesting has been carefully noted in parish and municipal archives for at least 600 years.

New Zealand Tries to Cap Gaseous Sheep Burps

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 13, 2002   View Article

New Zealand scientists trying to curb their country’s influence on global warming may have found an answer to belch about: Livestock that eat plants high in condensed tannins produce up to 16 percent less methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Tannins are the yellow-brown chemical compounds found in many plants and give red wine its distinctive flavor.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach