Monday, August 3, 2009


Wine is an alcoholic beverage typically made of fermented grape juice. The natural chemical balance of grapes is such that they can ferment without the addition of sugars, acids, enzymes or other nutrients. Wine is produced by fermenting crushed grapes using various types of yeast. Yeast consumes the sugars found in the grapes and converts them into alcohol. Different varieties of grapes and strains of yeasts are used depending on the type of wine being produced.

Although other fruits such as apples and berries can also be fermented, the resultant wines are normally named after the fruit from which they are produced (for example, apple wine or elderberry wine) and are generically known as fruit wine or country wine (not to be confused with the French term vin de pays). Others, such as barley wine and rice wine (i.e., sake), are made from starch-based materials and resemble beer and spirit more than wine, while ginger wine is fortified with brandy. In these cases, the use of the term "wine" is a reference to the higher alcohol content, rather than production process. The commercial use of the English word "wine" (and its equivalent in other languages) is protected by law in many jurisdictions.

Wine has a rich history dating back to around 6000 BC and is thought to have originated in areas now within the borders of Georgia and Iran. Wine probably appeared in Europe at about 4500 BC in what is now Bulgaria and Greece, and was very common in ancient Greece, Thrace and Rome.

It is believed that wine was introduced in Greece around 4000 BC and there is evidence, found on artifacts, that it was known to the Minoan and Myceneaean civilizations.

Ancient Greeks considered that wine was a gift from the Gods and worshiped Dionysus, a creature with the mind of man and the instincts of a beast, as God of wine. Festivals honoring Dionysus were held during winter months and were celebrated by performing arts and wine drinking. Vineyards, grapes and wine drinking festivities were painted on hundreds of ancient Greek artifacts of clay, marble and metal.
During Homer times, wine cultivation was part of Greece's agriculture. It is evident that wine was a drink for old and young Greeks. Tradition says that infant Achilles was given wine with his meals. Even Ulysses during his quest to return home used wine to gain control over Polyphemus by getting him drunk and blinding him afterwards.

Wine has also played an important role in religion throughout history. The Greek God Dionysos and the Roman equivalent Bacchus represented wine, and the drink is also used in Christian and Jewish ceremonies such as the Eucharist (also called the Holy Communion) and Kiddush.

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