The World's Oldest Winery: A New Scientific Discovery

By John Hendel
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Among the ancient caves of Armenia hid a taste for wine—likely red wine. The Wall Street Journal reports on a new archeological discovery that reveals, undisturbed and never looted, a terrific find more than six millennia old:

Outside a mountain village still known for its wine-making skill, archaeologists unearthed a large vat set in a platform for treading grapes, along with the well-preserved remains of crushed grapes, seeds and vine leaves, dating to about 6,100 years ago—a thousand years older than other comparable finds.

On three pot shards, researchers from the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at the University of California, Los Angeles, found a residue of malvidin, a pigment that gives grapes and wine a dark red hue.

The ancient seeds belonged to a domesticated grape variety, known as Vitis vinifera vinifera, that is still used to make red wine today, the team reported.

"It looks like this cave complex was used during the Copper Age as a cemetery and a place of ritual," said UCLA archaeologist Gregory Areshian, who was co-director of the excavation effort. "The production of wine could be related to those rituals."

Read the full story at The Wall Street Journal.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2011/01/the-worlds-oldest-winery-a-new-scientific-discovery/69343/