• Italy's news in English
 

French 'learned wine-making' from Italians

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
Amazon to pay tax on Italy sales
Amazon is among several large companies under the spotlight in Europe over tax deals. Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP

Amazon to pay tax on Italy sales

Online retail giant Amazon said it has started declaring sales made in major European markets in the respective countries instead of Luxembourg, meaning it will pay taxes on the sales in Italy and elsewhere. READ  

Roma stun Lazio in fiery city derby
Roma's defender from France Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa celebrates a goal with Roma's midfielder from Belgium Radja Nianggolan. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Roma stun Lazio in fiery city derby

A late glancing header from defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa earned Roma a stunning 2-1 victory over Lazio in a fiery city derby on Monday to secure the Giallorossi's automatic entry to the Champions League. READ  

Italy's UniCredit in Ukraine anti-terror probe
Armed pro-Russian rebels take part in a military drill near the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk in April. Photo: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP

Italy's UniCredit in Ukraine anti-terror probe

Ukrainian security agents on Monday seized documents at the Kiev headquarters of Italy's UniCredit bank as part of a probe aimed at cutting off the suspected illicit financing of pro-Russian rebels in the separatist east. READ  

Mediterranean migrant crisis
Sicilian saves Syrians at sea with cell phone
Human rights activist Nawal Soufi poses during a press conference for the release of the book 'Nawal, L'Angelo dei Profughi'. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

Sicilian saves Syrians at sea with cell phone

Nawal Soufi is never without her mobile phone and thousands of Syrian refugees have reason to be grateful for that. READ  

Football fans stabbed ahead of Rome derby
Lazio's fans cheer prior the Italian Serie A football match SS Lazio vs AS Roma. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Football fans stabbed ahead of Rome derby

Two unnamed Roma fans were rushed to hospital in a serious condition after being stabbed prior to the city derby against Lazio on Monday, reports in Italy said. READ  

Bitter ex-pupils fake Isis school attack
People pose with an Isis flag. Photo: Tauseef Mustafa/AFP

Bitter ex-pupils fake Isis school attack

Three people in central Italy have been caught by police trying to set their former school on fire, setting up the arson attack as a crime by terrorist group Isis. READ  

EU states must help Med migrants: Mogherini
“We must be ready to share the responsibilities," said Federica Mogherini, the EU's foreign policy chief. Photo: Emmauel Dunand/AFP

EU states must help Med migrants: Mogherini

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Monday called on European countries to share Italy’s burden in tackling the Mediterranean migration crisis, as agreement on a regional quota system for refugees looks increasingly unlikely. READ  

Man cuts off nephew's finger in row over dog
The pensioner faces charges of grevious bodily harm. Police car photo: Shutterstock

Man cuts off nephew's finger in row over dog

A pensioner was arrested in Rome province on Sunday night for allegedly cutting off his nephew's finger in a row over a barking dog. READ  

The Local List
Ten things to do in Milan when you visit Expo
There's nothing more Milanese than an aperitivo in the Navigli quarter. Photo: Irene Grassi/Flickr

Ten things to do in Milan when you visit Expo

With the World Expo in town, tourists are descending on Milan as never before. If you're one of them, check out this quick guide for a weekend in the city. READ  

Pressure on Italy after Irish gay marriage vote
Same-same couples currently have no legal status in Italy. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

Pressure on Italy after Irish gay marriage vote

The Italian government is facing increasing pressure to give same-sex couples more rights after Ireland voted to legalize gay marriage, with the president of Italy's parliament arguing it's time to legislate for civil unions. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Bupa
Sponsored Article
Healthcare: 9 questions every expat should ask
Sponsored Article
Student life in Rome
National
Italy starts to show the strains of migrant influx
Migrant gets permit for saving drowning woman
Features
Rude Italian terms that just don’t translate
National
Amazing Italian homes for less than €100,000
Politics
'UK exit from the EU would be a disaster'
Features
Forgotten resistance: Italian freedom fighters
National
5 reasons why Italy is on the up
VIDEO: How to stay clean while floating in space
National
Italians welcome 'royal baby' born on boat
National
Life's better in Italy, say expat mums
National
Are Italians becoming boozier than the Brits?
Travel
Ten must-see places within reach of Rome
National
Italian astronaut has first espresso in space
Politics
Italy approves radical new electoral law
International
Brits in Italy could face health 'black hole'
National
Top ten problems of growing up multilingual
National
How to live in Italy without speaking Italian
Politics
Revealed: the Italians who worship Mussolini
National
My Italian habits that foreigners just don’t get
Culture
Illnesses that only seem to strike Italians
Ferrara lawyers want crucifixes back in court
National
'Italy’s probably the worst place for business'
Ten ways Italians celebrate Easter
National
'I don’t see signs of a turn in the economy'
Business & Money
Ten 'Italian' firms that aren't actually Italian
Opinion
Why are Italians such crazy drivers?
Culture
Pompeii Villa boosts Italy heritage hopes
National
'I want Knox extradited if verdict upheld': lawyer
Culture
Seven ways to get tongue-tied in Italian
Technology
Scientists reconstruct DNA from fascist sperm
National
Italian police: 'Isis flag' was jacket in tree
National
Furore over Naples nude nun billboard
Politics
Berlusconi: Two decades of courtroom saga
Health
Italy's C-section rate among Europe's highest
National
Rome bans Ben Hur filming at ancient site
International
Why Libya is ringing alarm bells in Italy
National
How Islamic college plan has split Italian town
National
James Bond's best Italian moments
Sport
Purrfect catch: Italian twins land giant catfish
National
VIDEO: Massive sinkhole opens up in Naples
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

3,586
jobs available