• Italy edition
 
French 'learned wine-making' from Italians
Did ancient Italians teach the French everything they know about wine-making? File photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP

French 'learned wine-making' from Italians

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

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Italian social attitudes
Italians: abortions are OK - but not facelifts
Facelifts are more acceptable to young Italians than pensioners. Facelift photo: Shutterstock

Italians: abortions are OK - but not facelifts

Having an abortion is more acceptable to Italians than getting a facelift, despite plastic surgery being popular in the Catholic country, a revealing new survey of the country's social attitudes has found. READ  

Italy denies sending fire-fighting jets to Libya
The fire has raged at at an oil depot in the outskirts of Tripoli since Sunday. Photo: Mahmud Turkia/AFP

Italy denies sending fire-fighting jets to Libya

Italy has denied a report by Libyan authorities that Rome was to send seven fire-fighting planes to combat an inferno that has been blazing since Sunday at an oil depot in the outskirts of Tripoli. READ  

Swiss-EU relations discussed in Rome
Swiss President Didier Burkhalter and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi met in Rome on Tuesday. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Swiss-EU relations discussed in Rome

Switzerland’s relationship with the EU was on the agenda when Swiss President Didier Burkhalter met Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi during an official visit to Rome on Tuesday. READ  

EU prepares to hit Russia with tough sanctions
Young people during a protest rally in front of a European Union delegation in Kiev on May 30th. Photo: Yuriy Kirnichny/AFP

EU prepares to hit Russia with tough sanctions

The EU prepared on Tuesday to hit Russia where it hurts with tough economic sanctions as Moscow insisted the West can do it little harm and showed no sign of reversing course in Ukraine. READ  

€5,000 bounty offered for Tuscan wolf killer
Eleven wolves have been killed in Grosseto, Tuscany, since spring 2013. Wolf photo: Shutterstock

€5,000 bounty offered for Tuscan wolf killer

Activists offered a €5,000 reward to catch the killer of a wolf in central Italy as tensions between farmers and animal rights groups mounted, with the latter saying a "conspiracy of silence" among villagers is protecting those responsible. READ  

Italian fire-fighting jets to combat Libya oil inferno
Flames and smoke billowing from an oil depot where a huge blaze started following clashes around Tripoli airport. Photo: Mahmud Turkia/AFP

Italian fire-fighting jets to combat Libya oil inferno

The Italian government and national energy giant ENI will send seven fire-fighting planes to help combat an inferno raging at an oil depot on the outskirts of Tripoli, Libyan authorities said on Tuesday. READ  

Embryo mix-up couple to launch custody battle
The embryo mix-up happened at the Sandro Pertini hospital in Rome. IVF photo: Shutterstock

Embryo mix-up couple to launch custody battle

The genetic parents of embryos mistakenly implanted in another woman plan to take legal action in a bid to gain custody over the twins. The unprecedented case will likely be a “long, drawn-out” battle, one of the lawyers involved told The Local. READ  

Italians among the most surgically enhanced
There were 27,952 eyelid jobs in Italy last year. Plastic surgery photo: Shutterstock

Italians among the most surgically enhanced

Italy has one of the world's highest uptakes of plastic surgery, with eyelid and breast surgery being particularly popular, according to a new survey. READ  

VIDEO: Inmates get 'Happy' in Italian prison
Screengrab: Paolo Andolina/CataniaOggi/YouTube

VIDEO: Inmates get 'Happy' in Italian prison

It's lifted spirits and sparked a global movement for happiness. Now prisoners in Sicily have been filmed singing along to Pharrell Williams' 'Happy' song in a bid to show that, even behind bars, they too experience moments that make them smile. READ  

New investor confidence boosts Italian economy
Borrowing costs for southern European countries have fallen since the European Central Bank brought in unprecedented measures in June. Money photo: Shutterstock

New investor confidence boosts Italian economy

Interest on Italian and Spanish debt fell to record low on Monday, while Portugal's continued to drop, as investor concerns about the eurozone's former laggards eased. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
VIDEO: Inmates get 'Happy' in Italian prison
Sport
'I never imagined it could feel this good': Nibali
National
Italian prison blasted over inmate 'happy hour'
Gallery
Top 10 cycling routes in Italy
Culture
Top 10 foreign films made in Italy
International
Ukraine tragedy hits Mogherini's EU hopes
National
'Life in Italy is not how I thought it would be'
Politics
Critics scramble to block Mogherini from EU job
National
'Italy's ginger gene spread from Sicily'
National
'Refugees can contribute positively to Italy'
Society
Hospital to obese patient: Go to a vet instead
Politics
Italy backs controversial Russian gas pipeline
Culture
Ten things tweeters love about Italy
Society
Italy: no place for pets?
Opinion
Why doctors in Italy refuse to give abortions
National
Italy's centre-right leader open to gay unions
National
Top ten reasons Italians hate summer
Politics
Italy under fire over its huge debt
National
Americans taught how to 'rap' Italian gestures
National
How does Italy compare to its EU neighbours?
International
The Italian explorer training astronauts
Travel
Top ten: Italy's gay-friendly holiday hotspots
National
1,900 children languish in Italy's adoption system
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

525
jobs available