Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Now we skip forwards a few thousand years to the Predynastic era of the Egyptian Pharos when wine was spreading across the ancient world. Hieroglyphics form this time show that perhaps binge drinking is not such a modern problem as apparently the Pharos didn’t seem to care that much about the quality but more quantity as shown below!
Even Pharos has bad days! 
Although the wine that the Egyptians drank was a distant relative to the wine we know today. The Egyptians used white, pink, green, red, and dark blue grapes they also used figs, palm, dates and pomegranates. So as you can imagine the taste would have been completely different to what we would expect when being served wine. Making wine from various fruits is essentially the same as that of grapes except that sugar is added to help the fermentation.
The Egyptians used trellises which were protected from sunlight (because the light is too intense in Egypt grapes) and also knew that the last 100 days before the harvest were the most vital. Once the grapes were picked they were taken to a large pressing vat. The Egyptians pressed grapes by treading on them rather than using a stone press which crushes the seeds and the stems and adds a bitter taste to the resulting wine. There was then a second pressing of the wine in an oblong linen slough, this slough was stretched across a solid wooden frame as four men on one side stretched the linen meanwhile as a fifth made sure that none of the precious wine was spilt.
A Hieroglyphic of the wine pressing in action! 
 The Egyptians had several grades of wine one was called “Free Run Must” little of this was collected and was a very sweet long lasting wine. This wine came from the grapes own weight. There was also the grade “First Wine Must” which came from the treading and was about 2/3 of the juice. Then finally the “Second Run Must” which came from the additional pressing. These 3 grades could be mixed to make different kinds of wine (e.g. red, white, dry or sweet). These 3 different grades of wine were then left in a trough to ferment. Fermentation is the converting of sugar from the grapes is converted into alcohol. This conversion is due to the yeast from the grape’s skin, stalk and stems, the yeast releases enzymes that bind and react with the sugar to make alcohol (ethanol). The amount of alcohol obviously depends on the amount of sugar. The maximum percent of alcohol the yeast can survive in is roughly 15%. Any sugar left over will add sweetness to the drink. To achieve a drink with a light consistency, it would be fermented for only a short while (a few days). Whereas if you want a heavy final product it would be fermented for a long time (several weeks) as well as being heated as this speeds up the conversion of sugar. To add color and bitterness to the wine, the seeds, stalks and stems may have been left in the must. This means that to make a red wine the colure would not have been just down to the grapes color but also if the composites of the grape vine were included in the must. The rather gritty wine would then be filtered through linen to dispose of the stalks and other solids. The wine was then bottled and sealed with mud and reeds. The wine would be sealed a few days before it turned to vinegar.

 It seems that the Pharos were particularly fond of the drink as it became their drink of preference to take with them into the afterlife which means we all have something for us to look forward to when it's our turn to go to that big drinks party in the sky! At this time, wine was almost exclusively for royalty, only at special occasions like festivals or for medical uses like sedating women during childbirth and as an antiseptic would a commoner be permitted this luxury. Egyptian's when sealing their wine would make an impression in the wax, these were the equivalent to the wine maker’s labels we have today.


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