Archaeologists Unearth Ancient Egyptian Wine Cellars in Nile Delta
If you couldn't already tell by their party-ready eyeliner (OK, fine, it was full of lead, but work with us here), ancient Egyptians knew how to have a good time. The latest proof: archaeologists recently uncovered wine cellars dating back to the Greco-Roman period (a.k.a. the time from Egypt's fall to Alexander the Great in the 4th century B.C. to the Islamic conquest in the 7th century) in the Nile Delta, Yahoo News reports. According to the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, the dig took place in Tel Kom al Trogy, a region north of Cairo known for similar discoveries (its ancient residents were all about fine wines).
Sadly, there was no actual wine left in the cellars. But we do have some details on how ancient Egyptians kept their bottles fresh: the storage rooms, which were constructed from mud-based bricks, had irregularly-shaped limestone blocks inside to control the temperature.
In other really old wine news, last May, archaeologists found what is believed to be the earliest known winery in an Armenian cave. According to National Geographic, the 6,100-year-old facility contained a wine press for stomping grapes, fermentation and storage vessels, drinking cups, and withered grape vines, skins, and seeds. Ancient wine expert Patrick E. McGovern (a biomolecular archaeologist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia) told the publication that the discovery was "important and unique, because it indicates large-scale wine production, which would imply, I think, that the grape had already been domesticated."
McGovern thinks the wine produced in that cave was made from Areni grapes, specifically, which are distant ancestors of Pinot Noir grapes. (So, ancient Armenians preferred a dry red.) But, the wine probably contained tree resin (which was used as a preservative in ancient times), making it more like a Greek retsina, which is still made with tree resin to this day.