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11-Aug-2018 09:13

People in the Republic of Georgia were drinking 'mind-altering' wine 8,000 years ago, scientists have discovered.

New archaeological evidence has pushed back the origins of wine 1,000 years to the Neolithic period, when humans were still using stone tools.

Wine would also have been drunk during everyday meals, which often featured toasting.'As a medicine, social lubricant, mind-altering substance, and highly-valued commodity, wine became the focus of religious cults, pharmacopoeias, cuisines, economics, and society throughout the ancient Near East,' said Dr Batiuk.'The infinite range of flavours and aromas of today's 8,000-10,000 grape varieties are the end result of the domesticated Eurasian grapevine being transplanted and crossed with wild grapevines elsewhere over and over again.' Scientists from the University of Toronto and the Georgian National Museum believe the practice of crushing grapes to produce a heady alcoholic drink started up to 1,000 years earlier in the South Caucasus region between eastern Europe and western Asia.

Ceramic pottery fragments from two sites about 30 miles south of the Georgian capital Tbilisi contained residues that yielded chemical signatures of grapes and wine.

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Chemical extraction revealed tartaric acid, and the organic acids malic, succinic and citric.

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State-of-the-art methods of chemical extraction revealed tartaric acid, and the organic acids malic, succinic and citric, the researchers reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr Stephen Batiuk, a member of the team from the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilisations at the University of Toronto, said: 'We believe this is the oldest example of the domestication of a wild-growing Eurasian grapevine solely for the production of wine.'The excavated sites contained the remains of two Neolithic villages at Gadachrili Gora and Shulaveris Gora.

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