Italians taught French the art of wine-making

Wednesday, 5 June, 2013
Cristy Gelling, Science News
French winemakers learned their art after developing a taste for Italian wines, a new study suggests.
Archaeologists have found traces of grapes on a stone platform dated to 425 to 400 B.C. from a site in southern France. The traces suggest that people used the platform for stomping on the fruit to make wine. The researchers also found wine traces at the same site in older, imported amphorae, the pottery shipping containers of the ancient Mediterranean.

The wine press provides the earliest molecular evidence for wine-making in France and the traces in the amphorae support the idea that local wine-making was inspired by trade with Etruscans from Italy, researchers report June 3 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

People first made wine around 6,000 years ago in the mountains of Iran, Armenia and Georgia. Seafaring traders, including Canaanites, Phoenicians, Greeks and Etruscans, then spread across the Mediterranean with the domesticated grape vine, wine-making techniques and a culture of wine drinking.

Archaeologists think the first wine industries in France started in the sixth century B.C., but did not have chemical evidence for ancient wine production.

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