People have been drinking alcoholic beverages for a very long time. Recently, a team of researchers found evidence of large-scale wine making in 6,000 BC—in clay vats big enough to hold 400 bottles of wine, in the Caucasus mountains in the modern nation of Georgia. The grapes came from vitis vinifera, the only grapevine species known to have been domesticated, and the grandparent of all 8,000-10,000 modern wine-making grape species.
This is the first evidence of large-scale production, but not the earliest archeological evidence of adult beverages. Traces of a concoction made from wild grapes, hawthorn fruit, rice beer and honey mead have been found on pottery from China that dates to around 7,000 BC.
More recently—as in, in the past few years—Patrick McGovern of the Biomolecular Archaeology Project for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages, and Health at the University of Pennsylvania Museum has been recreating ancient beverages. Among them: an ancient ale made with cacao, dated to 1400 B.C. in Honduras, and early Etruscan based on residues found in 2,800-year-old tombs in central Italy. The Etruscans used malted heirloom barley and wheat, mixed with hazelnut flour, pomegranate and myrrh.
One of the most interesting is the Midas beverage, made in bronze vessels recovered from the Midas tomb in Turkey, which dates from 700 B.C. The ingredients included wine, barley beer, and mead. By adding some saffron as a bittering agent (hops were not available in the Middle East 2,700 years ago) the researchers produced a sweet, aromatic blend which Dr. McGovern describes as a little like white wine, with delicious, piquant qualities.
But Dr. McGovern points out that ancient beverages probably varied dramatically from one batch to the next. Different “vintages” would have been made up of whatever ingredients happened to be available, which means the alcohol manufacturers alternated between beer and mead along with wine, and sometimes producing mixtures of all of the above.
About the Author: Bob Veres has been a commentator, author and consultant in the financial services industry for more than 20 years. Over his 20-year career in the financial services world, Mr. Veres has worked as editor of Financial Planning magazine; as a contributing editor to the Journal of Financial Planning; as a columnist and editor-at-large of Dow Jones Investment Advisor magazine; and as editor of Morningstar’s advisor web site: MorningstarAdvisor.com.
Mr. Veres has been named one of the most influential people in the financial planning profession by Investment Advisor magazine and Financial Planning magazine, was granted the NAPFA Special Achievement Award by the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, and most recently the Heart of Financial Planning Distinguished Service Award from the Denver-based Financial Planning Association.
ACCORDING to the ancient Greeks, wine was first discovered by Dionysus, and proved so popular that he was rewarded with godhood. The ancient Persians credit it to a woman who had been banished from the presence of the legendary King Jamshid.
Deaths from drug overdoses have recently multiplied in the U.S., to the point that overdoses are reducing average life span for several demographic slices of the adult population. Opioid abuse is being blamed as the main killer.