Wine

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Discipline:
Social Studies
Subject:
World History
Grade:
11

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Wine

As seen on the right, there were many festivities celebrating wine. It had a huge impact on Greek life with many examples of festivals dedicated to the spirit that was so fundamental to their lives. Paul Denis reports of an Athenian festival which, "was the ‘Anthesteria,’ a three-day event held each year during the spring month Anthesterion, which celebrated the fruit of the vine"3 During the first day they people would open the new wine from the last harvest, the day would be filled with dancing and celebration. The new wine would be taken from a huge container called a Pithoi. The second day would have people dressing up as the god of wine and perform plays about him. The third was a more solemn rap up with a few contests between citizens. All together this festival was of big meaning to the Athenians and most other poleis had similar festivals to honour the wine god and wine itself.

Quite obviously one of Greece's most important resources was grapes, not only because of wine but because grapes are a food in itself. This fruit had many uses and because of this it became a huge part of daily life and economy of most Greek cities. Archeologists have found evidence that, according to Paul Denis, "a vast wine trade crisscrossed the eastern Mediterranean world as early as the 6th century, BC"3 and beyond this is proof of things as specific as the Persian Kings favorite Greek wine, which at the turn of the 6th century was from the Greek city-states in Asia-Minor. Trade was not limited to Persia as even the Egyptians, which produced much of their own wines, where recorded to have traded for Greek wine regularly. The trade of wine may seem like a minor factor when judging a cities economy but when it came to ancient Greece, wine was a huge contribution and should not be overlooked by anyone!

Dionysus is the Greek God of wine, praised by all the people of Greece especially those who made and traded wines. Wine was a typical drink for the ancient Greek people, they were pioneers in the field of wine making yet drunkenness was frowned upon. It had extensive use in their culture from purification, social and thirst quenching purposes. For this reason the God Dionysus became a large part of society and was depicted in many forms from the wise older man (as above) to a younger adult, fond of partying, to a young child.

Social Impact

The Ancient Greeks had a huge influence on the known world. They established vineyards in Italy, Iberia, Sicily, and the south of France! They also shared their superior winemaking techniques with peoples as far as modern day Russia. As stated by Ray Isle from Wine Talk, Etruscans, Phoenicians, Scythians and the Romans were all influenced to some extent in their wine making practice.2 The Greek people spent enormous amounts of resources to perfect their wine making and as a result there was a substantial amount of trading value in wine.

Citations

Notes 1. Sofia Perpera, "All About Greek Wine: History,” All About Greek Wine: History, accessed May 25, 2014, http://www.allaboutgreekwine.com/history.htm. 2. Ray Isle, "Wine in Ancient Greece," Vine Talk, accessed May 29, 2014, http://www.vinetalk.com/wine-in-ancient-greece/ 3. Paul Denis, Toast to Greece's original vitner (Rotunda Fall, 2000), 38-42, http://go.galegroup.com/ps/ 4. University Press, "Ancient Greek Everyday Life," Ancient Greece, accessed May 29, 2014, http://www.ancientgreece.com/s/Life/ BibliographyDenis, Paul. Toast to Greece's original vitner. Rotunda Fall, 2000: http://go.galegroup.com/ps/Isle, Ray. "Wine in Ancient Greece." Vine Talk. accessed May 29, 2014, http://www.vinetalk.com/ wine-in-ancient-greece/ Perpera, Sofia. "All About Greek Wine: History." All About Greek Wine: History. accessed May 25, 2014, http://www.allaboutgreekwine.com/history.htm.University Press. "Ancient Greek Everyday Life." Ancient Greece. accessed May 29, 2014, http:// www.ancientgreece.com/s/Life/

Ancient Greek Wine Making

Dionysus

The Spread

Wine, trade and the Economony

First and foremost the grapes had to be crushed to release the grape juice. Often by being placed in a large bowl and stepped on, depicted in the image above are the helpers (minotaurs) of the God Dionysus crushing the grapes for wine.

Wine was diluted which was an important step to them because as stated by Ray Isle, "Greeks considered undiluted wine to be the drink of barbarians"2

Location, Location, Location!The most celebrated of the ancient Greek wines is said to come from the poleis of Macedonia, Thrace and some islands in the Eastern Mediterranean according to the All About Greek Wines website.1 These locations may have produced the best wines of Greece but the rest of city-states were not far behind. Keeping in mind better wine does not mean more potent as it was customary to drink wine one part wine and two parts water. Although they still had drinking parties, for the diluted wine also made their drinking parties go for much longer!

The Greeks had mastered the skill of perfectly fermenting the grape juice to make some of the best wines around the ancient world! As declared by the University Press, the Greeks would customarily tread on the grapes and then place the juice in jars to ferment.4 This process is depicted in the images on the left (amphorae) and the right of this paragraph.

Ancient Greek Pithoi (LEFT) are enormous jars around the size of a grown man. These jars had many uses, one of which was holding large amounts of wine. They could weigh up to 2 tons! The Amphora (RIGHT) was smaller and often used for ship transport of wine and small-scale storage.

As stated by Paul Denis, wine making is a careful process, from the grapes being harvested and pressed, to being fermented in large clay pots underground, to being buried to keep cool as it ages.3 The process is not the easiest or the simplest but it satisfied the Greeks thirst for economic and cultural wealth.


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