Patrick E. McGovern’s study is the first to prove using chemical analysis that the Etruscans taught the French Celts in Lattara how to produce wine

Dr. Pat

A cartoon from Dr. Pat’s page on the University of Pennsylvania Museum’s website.

Patrick E. McGovern, author of Ancient Wine: The Search for the Origins of Viniculturespearheaded the research that further confirms Etruscans from Italy heavily influenced wine production in Lattara, an ancient harbor city in the south of France. There had been ancient documents and archaeological findings that already strongly suggested Etruscans presented wines to the Celt dwellers of France at trading stations in Lattara. McGovern and team’s findings only strengthen this notion.

Using biomolecular analysis, McGovern and researchers discovered that fifth century Etruscan pots used for transportation, known as amphorae, had traces of wine imbued with rosemary, basil, and thyme. McGovern’s research also establishes that the Celts living in Lattara began producing the wine at the close of the fifth century.

The team of researchers stumbled upon another fresh discovery: In the past, it was generally understood that limestone presses in Lattara were used to press olives. Using biomolecular anaylsis, just as they did with the amphorae, the group found that the presses were actually used for grapes.

To establish that the compressor was utilized to squash grapes, the researchers obtained consent to carve off a tiny portion of a limestone wine press. The sample was mailed to the University of Pennsylvania Museum, where procedures embracing mass spectrometry were employed to separate and classify chemical compounds present in the rock and earthenware.

The study was printed in the May 1 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Read the original article on The Sacramento Bee’s website:

Interested in channeling the local fifth century Gallic people with a little home winemaking? Check out this informative how-to video made by YouTube user martiwf0:

Watch the video via YouTube:

Ancient Wine
Patrick E. McGovern

Coming of Age in Second Life by Tom BoellstorffThe history of civilization is, in many ways, the history of wine. This book is the first comprehensive and up-to-date account of the earliest stages of vinicultural history and prehistory, which extends back into the Neolithic period and beyond. Elegantly written and richly illustrated, Ancient Wine opens up whole new chapters in the fascinating story of wine and the vine by drawing upon recent archaeological discoveries, molecular and DNA sleuthing, and the texts and art of long-forgotten peoples.

Patrick McGovern takes us on a personal odyssey back to the beginnings of this consequential beverage when early hominids probably enjoyed a wild grape wine. We follow the course of human ingenuity in domesticating the Eurasian vine and learning how to make and preserve wine some 7,000 years ago. Early winemakers must have marveled at the seemingly miraculous process of fermentation. From success to success, viniculture stretched out its tentacles and entwined itself with one culture after another (whether Egyptian, Iranian, Israelite, or Greek) and laid the foundation for civilization itself. As medicine, social lubricant, mind-altering substance, and highly valued commodity, wine became the focus of religious cults, pharmacopoeias, cuisines, economies, and society. As an evocative symbol of blood, it was used in temple ceremonies and occupies the heart of the Eucharist. Kings celebrated their victories with wine and made certain that they had plenty for the afterlife. (Among the colorful examples in the book is McGovern’s famous chemical reconstruction of the funerary feast–and mixed beverage–of “King Midas.”) Some peoples truly became “wine cultures.”

When we sip a glass of wine today, we recapitulate this dynamic history in which a single grape species was harnessed to yield an almost infinite range of tastes and bouquets. Ancient Wine is a book that wine lovers and archaeological sleuths alike will raise their glasses to.