The Mark Wine News Winter '18 Volume 8.1 - Page 20

Part One By Lisa Gmur, CSW W ine writer Alexis Lichine tells the story of a Persian King who loved grapes so much he hid them away, labeling them as “poison” so no one would touch his precious grapes. This king also had a harem and one of these lovely ladies was feeling rather neglected and wasn’t all that into being just another one of his harem and decided to drink from the jar labeled “posion.” What she got instead was a delicious fermented wine, which she immediately brought to the king. He agreed and took her back into favor. He also ordered for all grapes in the future to be allowed to ferment Of course, like most charming stories such as this one, there are historical facts that lay claim to what and produced. In case you’re wondering exactly where this area is, well, modern day countries with significant territory within the Fertile Crescent include Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Egypt, Turkey and Iran. The vinifera varieties that we know today are direct descendants of those first vines. And because vinifera reproduce in a vegetative manner rather than a sexual one, they are predisposed to mutation which is why we have such enormous diversity in grape varietals today. Much of what we know about ancient winemaking is literally written on the walls. Elaborate paintings Fresco depicting Winemaking in the Fertil Crescent (Mesopotamia) Ambassadors of the Persian Empire bringing their famous wine to the King is more likely the real story of how grapes were first allowed to ferment. In fact, grape seeds have been found in Stone Age caves which existed much earlier than Persia. However, it is possible that in the era of this particular Persian King, such knowledge did not exist. The location of the story does coincide with facts about where grapes were first cultivated and wine production truly first began. The area known as the Fertile Crescent produced the first grapes, though it is unclear as to which grape varietal was first grown 18 in caves, crypts and on tombs tell the story of what most people believe to be the origins of wine. In preparing for their afterlife, the Pharaohs would equip their tombs with everything they thought they would need in their next life. This included numerous clay jars of wine. The very detailed paintings were filled with all kinds of information about grape harvesting and winemaking. Everything from grapes being harvested with curved knives into wicker baskets, then being carried in from the vineyards and poured into vats and finally to workers crushing the grapes with their feet. This type of winemaking still exists in the Mediterranean wine region. Babylonian cuneiform tablets also depict a winemaking culture. It’s believed they made, traded and took pleasure in wine. The Greeks inherited this winemaking culture and elevated it to an art. As you THE MARK WINE NEWS