Modern Greek History

When Did Greeks Start Drinking Wine?

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When Did Greeks Start Drinking WineHistorians believe that Greeks have been drinking wine for over four thousand years, and that’s a conservative estimate. Several things happened when they started making and drinking it. First of all, they seemed to have had an instinctual understanding of its health benefits. Secondly, as wine manufacturing developed, so did their economy. It seems that they valued wine just as much as we do today. But how did all of this really come to be?

Wine Has Its Beginnings

Archaeologists have discovered evidence of wine consumption in Greece as early as the Neolithic Period. However, it was the Minoans who really made the most strides in this department. Ancient Minoan palaces on the island of Crete reveal that there were large storehouses that were designed to hold vast quantities of wine. This tells us that they were making and drinking it in fairly large quantities.

Greek God of Wine

Perhaps the most interesting element that shows us that wine had an important place in Ancient Greece is that there was a god, Dionysus, who was completely devoted to wine and all its facets. He started appearing in the culture when the Mycenaeans were at their most prominent. Because of him, many wine festivals were held in his honor.

Ancient Wine Trade

The first evidence of wine trade also occurred during the time of the Mycenaeans. At that time, they used clay vessels called amphoras to store it. These vessels, which had been thought to have their roots in Mycenae, were found in places like Cyprus, Egypt, Palestine, and Sicily. Because of these findings, they concluded that this is where the wine trade had its beginning.

Further Development

Over time, the Hellenic people migrated across the land and eventually settled into city-states. The people were united by a language and cultural heritage, but they formed separate governments in the lands that they settled in. While they traveled, they brought with them their grapes and winemaking traditions. Thus, much of Ancient Greece had a wine tradition. It spread as far as the people took it.

Population Growth

Once the city-state of Athens developed, the wine trade really picked up. The markets attracted vintners from all over Ancient Greece. As the population grew, so did the wine culture. It became an important social drink. It was present at nearly every table as well as during important political gatherings. It was also around this time that the Greeks began to introduce winemaking techniques to their Mediterranean neighbors.

Byzantine Period

By the time the Byzantine Period in Greece came about, thousands of years after wine was first enjoyed in Greece, its importance in the culture was fully realized. During this time, Dionysus and other gods and goddesses were no longer part of the accepted religion in Greece. However, wine became an important part of Orthodox Christian worship, because of the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Not only that, but it also became a daily tradition at most dinner tables. The importance of wine in the Greek culture is still realized today.

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