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Welcome again to Sunday Wine Down. It is time to pop that cork, pour yourself a big glass of wine and enjoy life. We are back again for our second weekend of the Sunday Wine Down and we are going to continue with our lesson of Ancient Wines. Last week we covered the basics; we discovered how old wine actually is and talked a little about the Egyptians and their influences on wine. The lesson is not over yet as we have a few more Ancient civilizations to talk about before we get into modern wine. So enjoy that glass as you learn a little bit more about ancient wine!
This week we are going to start with a civilization that was a major player in the migration of wine and viticulture throughout the Mediterranean. The Phoenicians were consider great merchants and they saw the importance of wine as a commodity for them to trade. We can thank the Phoenicians for spreading wine to Greece, Rome, and Spain and then indirectly to France through the Romans. Phoenicians helped elevate wine into a valued product with their knowledge of growing grapes, wine making, and transportation of the final product. So lets dig into this fascinating culture.
The Phoenicians were based in the northern reaches of Canaan and the eastern shores of the Mediterranean. To give you all a better picture, they came from modern day Lebanon. Their trading network expanded throughout the Mediterranean and they were the ones who introduced/encouraged the idea of wine through modern day Lebanon, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. They also may have have had an indirect effect on wine making up into France.
Around 1000 BC is when business of wine became an extremely important trade and commodity and the demand rose. The Phoenicians took advantage of this and used it to their advantage. They would travel through the sea with their sailboats that carried large amphoras of wine, different species of vines, wine making equipment and their knowledge of where to plant the vines to produce wine. They did not only trade wine that was produced in Canaan but also set up other markets for wine produced in other colonies and port cities. The Phoenicians were smart when it came to setting up their trading post and developing a network that helped them spread their influence throughout the Mediterranean. Having direct contact with the Greeks, they educated the Greeks on the practices of wine making, viticulture, and shipbuilding which encouraged the Greeks to continue to expand and trade pass the Aegean sea. If it was not for these Ancient adventurers and entrepreneurs wine not be where it is at today.
Carthage was the Phoenicians most successful colony, which is located in North Africa were modern day Tunisia is now. In this hot north African colony the Phoenicians saw the importance of where they planted their grapes. They planted on the side of the hill to help protect the vines from the hot North African sun. They started figuring out the benefits of planting grapes in an ideal area. They took that knowledge and again spread it throughout all the major wine trading posts in the world that was set up by them. The world of wine started to change with this revelation. The world began to see the importance of terroir and the strategic way of planting vines in an area that suited the grapes. This in turn helped to harvest high quality grapes and eventually better wine.
The Phoenicians had the first significant influence on the world of wine. They helped elevate the level of wine that was being made around the Mediterranean, helped build a business and encouraged the practice of wine making to spread like wildfire. The Romans and the Greeks can thank the Phoenicians for sharing their knowledge so that one day the Greeks and Romans could help elevate the art of wine making even further. So as you finish up your glass of wine think about and raise your glass to the greatest merchants of wine in Ancient times. We have a lot to owe them.
Next Sunday Wine Down we will finish up our Ancient wine section with the Romans and the Greeks. We are going to learn how much influence these two empires had in the making of wine. So come back and join us for Ancient Wines Part 3: The Greeks and The Romans.