• Italy's news in English
 
app_header_v3

French 'learned wine-making' from Italians

AFP/The Local/Dan MacGuill · 4 Jun 2013, 11:12

Published: 04 Jun 2013 11:12 GMT+02:00

The earliest evidence of wine in France suggests that it came from Italy, and that it was mixed with basil, thyme and other herbs, according to research published on Monday.
This early wine may have been used as medicine, and likely was imbibed by the wealthy and powerful before eventually becoming a popular beverage enjoyed by the masses, researchers said.
The artifacts found at the French port site of Lattara, near the southern city of Montpellier, suggest that wine-making took root in France as early as 500 BC, as a result of libations and traditions introduced by the ancient Etruscans in what is now Italy.
"Even though France is now the centre of the world's wine culture, wine was originally an import to France," lead author Patrick McGovern told The Local.
"What the research shows is that the Etruscans, by importing wine to France, built up a great desire for wine in that area. Then the locals took the next logical step and grew the grapes and made the wine themselves," said McGovern, who is director of the biomolecular archaeology laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia.
The analysis in the US journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is based on ancient wine containers and a limestone press brought by seafaring Etruscan travelers.
The most significant of its findings, according to McGovern, is a limestone pressing platform dating to about 425 BC.
"Finding that this was in fact used as a wine press shows local production of wine, rather than just importation," he said.
The study, McGovern told AFP, provides "clear chemical evidence, combined with botanical and archaeological data, showing how wine was introduced into France and initiated a native industry."
Researchers studied three containers, known as amphoras, taken from an archeological site in Lattara where merchant quarters lay inside a walled settlement that dates to 525-474 BC.
The samples they chose were unbroken, unwashed and sealed, allowing for unhampered study of the residues inside.
Based on their shape, researchers could reasonably ascertain that the amphoras were made in the city of Cisra (modern Cerveteri) in central Italy.
Using state of the art chemical analysis techniques, researchers found tartaric acid, the biomarker of Eurasian grape wine.
They also discovered pine tree resin and herbs such as rosemary, thyme and basil in the wine residue, suggesting a medicinal use.
Tartaric acid was found on a nearby limestone pressing platform dating to about 425 BC, suggesting it was used as a wine press.
Together, the artifacts provide the earliest known biomolecular archaeological evidence of grape wine and wine-making on French soil, the study said.
"Now we know that the ancient Etruscans lured the Gauls into the Mediterranean wine culture by importing wine into southern France," said McGovern, who studies how wine culture originated in the Middle East some 9,000 years ago, and made its way to modern Europe.
"This built up a demand that could only be met by establishing a native industry, likely done by transplanting the domesticated vine from Italy, and enlisting the requisite wine-making expertise from the Etruscans."
The earliest known chemical evidence for wine was found in what is now northern Iran at the site of Hajji Firiz, and dates to about 5,400-5,000 BC. 

AFP/The Local/Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Travel alert
US passports now need six months validity for Italy
Photo: Kat/Flickr

Until recently, only three months were required for Italy.

Banksy's biggest collection of works get Rome display
The largest ever collection of artist Banksy's work is set to be exhibited in Rome. Salvatore Vastano/AFP

The pieces have all been leased from private collections.

Naples bids to smash world record with 2km pizza
The current record is held by a 1595 metre pizza built in Milan, pictured above. Photo: AFP Photo / Olivier Morin

The monster margherita will be baked along the city's seafront.

Italy's long-awaited gay unions bill ready for final vote
Italy's Senate approved the civil unions bill in February. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The lower house of parliament will vote on the bill on May 12th.

Glamorous M5S candidate tops Rome mayor race
The Five Star Movement's Virginia Raggi is leading the race to become Rome's mayor. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Virginia Raggi of the populist Five Star Movement (M5S), is leading polls to become mayor of the capital.

Refugee crisis
EU leaders meet amid Italy fears of new migrant influx
Matteo Renzi fears Italy will become the new migrant frontline after the closure of the so-called Balkan route. Photo: Daniel Mihailescu/AFP

As the EU braces for more turbulence notably with next month's "Brexit" referendum in Britain as well as renewed Greek debt talks, Italy is keen to keep the focus on forging a joint plan over migrants.

Food-nabbing gulls go beserk in Venice's St Mark's Square
Venice is contemplating spraying Saint Mark's square with gull repellent to stop the aggressive birds from attacking people. Photo: Bryce Edwards/Flickr

“We are trying to protect ourselves as best we can but the birds no longer fear humans.”

Ranieri is 'King of England', says his 96-year-old mum
Leicester City's manager Claudio Ranieri (C) is mobbed by fans as he leaves an Italian restaurant after having lunch with the team on Tuesday. Justin Tallis/AFP

"I started crying at the end of the game."

Disgraced Italian surgeon defends work in first interview
Italian surgeon Paolo Macchiarini has defended himself in an interview with a Swedish magazine. Photo: Lorenzo Galassi/TT/AP

"The complications are not related to the transplant."

Migrants get Pakistani chef amid 'bad' Italian food revolt
Migrants in Emilia-Romagna have been given a new Pakistani cook after they complained about the Italian food on offer. Renata F. Olivera/Flickr

“Many of us have eaten Italian food before in England and Germany, and it was better than this.”

Sponsored Article
How to launch your international career
Travel
Six incredible ways Italy profoundly changed my life
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Society
Cheese, wine and family: the Italian way to live beyond 100
Culture
7 breathtaking alternatives to Italy's tourist hotspots
Sponsored Article
What's the best way for expats to transfer money abroad?
Politics
Long-term Brit in Italy barred from EU vote vows to fight on
Health
Why Italian merry widows perk up after husbands die
National
Italian stuns talent show with 'living Caravaggio' paintings
Lifestyle
It's a long life for Italians as number of centenarians triples
Culture
Mussolini museum project awakes demons of Italy's past
International
How real is the threat from dormant Isis cells in Italy?
Health
Homeless snub famous Italian chef's vegan dishes
Shakespeare and Italy: A literary love affair
Culture
Happy 70th Vespa! The history behind Italy's famous scooter
Piaggio
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The history of the Vespa, Italy's famous scooter
Lifestyle
The top five free smartphone apps for learning Italian
National
Italy dismisses beach terror plots report
Features
The strange history behind five everyday Italian words
Politics
Should Italy really be getting so cosy with Iran?
National
Are 500,000 cats the solution to Rome’s rat crisis?
Politics
Walls go up in Europe again: Austria raises 'migrant fence'
Lifestyle
The next Copenhagen? Bari plans €7.9m seafront revamp
Culture
Lost €120 million Caravaggio 'found in a leaky French attic'
2,556
jobs available