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The Oldest Italian Wine Was Found in a Cave

Wine is one of those things that tend to get better with age. That’s the magic of the fermentation process combined with a nice, long stay in oak barrels. At least, that’s how it is for some wines that taste better when aged.

However, we do not recommend drinking what a research team found in a cave in Sicily. Archaeologists from the University of South Florida found the residue of fermented products that imply an earlier start for Italian winemaking. What brought about this important discovery?

Finding Ancient Wine in a Sicilian Cave

Led by Davide Tanasi, the team set out for Monte Kronio. This limestone hill on the southwest coast of Sicily is renowned for its hydrothermal caves. Inside these caverns, it can get incredibly humid, with temperatures reaching up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit due to the steam rising from volcanic activity underground. 

Since the Neolithic era, people have used these caves for their spa-like and healing benefits. Apparently, the caves also contained artifacts that are theorized to have religious and historical significance. The team took residue samples from several storage jars believed to have contained wine. These Late Copper Age vessels were probably used as part of a worship offering. 

When the research team conducted a chemical analysis of the residue in the ancient pottery, they found tartaric acid. This primary acid is present in grapes and naturally develops during the winemaking process. The Florida research team could not determine if the traces of wine belonged to red or white wine. 

The researchers also determined that they were 6,000 years old. This discovery sets a much older wine-producing timeline of what was before associated with the colonization of the island of Sicily by the Greeks. It may possibly be one of the earliest evidence of wine ever discovered.

Evidence of Prehistoric Winemaking 

The Sicilian find was not the only discovery of ancient winemaking in Italy. In the 1990s, researchers in Italy identified wine residue in the Nuragic winepress located near the Sardinian capital of Cagliari. When tested, this residue was estimated to be 3,000 years old. 

While the discovery in Sicily may be the oldest evidence of wine in Europe, it’s not the oldest worldwide. In China, archaeologists have found traces of wine made with honey and rice that date from 9,000 years ago. Furthermore, archeologists have discovered wine-making equipment together with dry grape vines and seeds in an Armenian cave dating back more than 6,000 years.

Imagine having a tradition that far back in time. It’s no wonder that Italians seem to have mastered the art of winemaking and grape cultivation. The best part? This thousand-year-old practice is something you can still enjoy today without setting a foot near a Sicilian cave. Yours Truly Wine lets you experience the best of organic Italian wines in the comfort of your home.

If you are interested in further exploring the fascinating world of Italian wine, I invite you to host a virtual wine tasting event . I will personally teach you and your select guests about the region, wineries, and process of the wines selected (because I know them all personally). Your guests will never forget this incredible experience! 

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