Tuesday, September 15, 2015


During the Turkish occupation the wine industry of Greece was almost whipped out as the Muslim Turks discouraged wine making and heavily taxed wine farmers. This meant that many farmers went out of business and the only people who were excluded from the heavy tax where the monks. Fortunately, the monasteries kept the craft alive in Greece for the 400 years it was occupied. The Greeks achieved independence in 1821. The Greek farmers started to replace their vines with raisin producing vines as there was a huge demand for them from France who’s vines had been devastated by the Phylloxera insect. After France recovered the demand for raisins went down and the Greeks started to grow wine vines again. Unfortunately, there were then a series of wars (WW1, WW2 and Greek Civil War) these prevented a stable wine trade from being established until 1949. At first the winemakers just churned out standard table wine and it looked like the nation who first produced fine wines would never return to its former glory. Fortunately the Greek winemakers are on the up and up and with an arsenal of 300 different native grape varieties each with very distinctive flavours they shall soon resume their position as one of the leading producers and worldwide distributors of quality wine. The only thing that remains for the Greeks triumphant return to the top is for the promotion of fine wine making to Greek farmers and to let the world know the Greeks are back.

The next group to start developing wine making and the actual growth of the vine in roughly 1000BC were, in fact, a Greek colony that had grown so strong that they had become independent of the Greeks. If you haven’t guessed it yet I am of course referring to the Romans. The Romans made major contributions to the science of wine making. They took huge steps to the classification of many varieties of grapes. They also invented the wooden wine barrel. Which was a huge development considering that the kind of wood used to make the barrel imparts its own distinct flavours to the wine. Depending on the grain of the wood, the flavours of will be imparted either faster or slower. Also, the barrels allow for the wine to evaporate a little bit during the ageing process. I’ll come back to the process of ageing in caskets when we cover the French as they have perfected the technique. It is important to remember the Romans laid down the foundations. The Romans are also thought to be the first to use glass bottles for wine. The oldest bottle of wine to be found has been dated to 325 AD. Corking had been invented at that time, but the Romans preferred to preserve their wine by floating a layer of olive oil on it. They classified many diseases that afflict grapes.

At first the Romans didn't take to wine and sent any that was produced was sent over the Alps to the barbarian Gauls who were so fond of the drink. The Romans preferred drink was beer and mead as they were manlier which was important because of their warrior past. Wine didn't really take off until the sacking of Carthage in 146BC because with the sacking they also acquired the first ever book about wine making. Then Cato (who suspiciously had pushed for the attack on Carthage) wrote a book on wine making (which made him a fortune) called “De Agi Cultura”. Thanks to this book after a hundred years beer and mead were a thing of the past and wine was the drink of the future. After another hundred years, there were choice vintages and had defined regions. Apparently the most desired regions were Falernian and Caecuban but they disappeared after just 50 years due to Neronian public works. If the wine was as fine as it is claimed then this conclusively proves that the mental condition of Emperor Nero was very poor indeed.


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