"Wine is central to civilization as we know it".
Whilst what little remaining liquid has certainly evaporated from the earthenware jars, researchers were still able to identify residual wine compounds that originated from two sites south of the Georgian capital of Tbilisi from around 5,980 BC.
Before this find, the earliest traces of wine-making were in pottery dating back to some 7,000 years ago, dug up in northwestern Iran, in the Zagros Mountains.
"We believe this is the oldest example of the domestication of a wild-growing Eurasian grapevine exclusively for the production of wine", said co-author and senior researcher Stephen Batiuk.
The world's oldest non-grape wine is believed to be a fermented drink made of rice, honey and fruit, found in China and dating back to around 7000 B.C.
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The new analysis showed the shards had absorbed the main chemical fingerprint of wine, tartaric acid, as well as some other substances associated with the beverage. But now, an global team of researchers say the practice actually began around 6,000 BCE in the South Caucuses, on the border of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. In addition, the organic acids malic, succinic, and citric were found. One of the most important crafts was pottery, which enabled the fermentation and storage of wine.
Apparently, there was an abundance of Eurasian grapevine Vitis vinifera around the excavation sites, given the ideal climate for their growth much like wine producing area of France and Italy today. "Georgia is home to over 500 varieties for wine alone, suggesting that grapes have been domesticated and cross-breeding in the region for a very long time". Researchers at Washington University, US revealed that women who consumed more than five servings of red wine a month enjoyed higher ovarian reserve - a measure of a woman's reproductive health.
Their results, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the USA, "provide the earliest biomolecular archaeological evidence for grape wine and viniculture from the Near East, at ca".
"The infinite range of flavors 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", said Stephen Batiuk.
So it seems like we have the Neolithic Georgians to thank for Chardonnay and Merlot.