When we think about wine in Italian history, we think of the booze-soaked bacchanalias of ancient Rome. But it turns out that Italians were using wine to get their drunk on long before that, as evidenced by an exciting new discovery of the region’s oldest vino near a Copper Age site in Sicily. It’s a spicy meatball indeed.
In a study published in Microchemical Journal, the researchers describe their big find: a jar dating back to the early 4th millennium BCE. After chemically testing the piece of pottery, the team found traces of tartaric acid, which is one of the main acids in wine. Its salts—called tartrates—were also found in the jug.
Image: Dr. Davide Tanasi, University of South Florida
Archaeologists have previously posited that Italian wine production started around the Middle Bronze Age, or 1300-1100 BCE. In 2015, researchers at the University of Caligari found 3,000-year-old Vernaccia and Malvasia grape seeds in Sardinia, proving Italian wine production has been around for an incredibly long time. To this day, it’s one of the top wine producers in the world in a neck-and-neck competition with France. Last year, it produced 1.5 billion gallons (or about 5.7 billion litres) of wine, according to CBS News.
While we know that there’s nothing like a nice vintage, maybe Bronze Age-era wine would be a bit too full-bodied. But to Italians all over the world, I say salute!