Researchers Now Say Oldest Wine in Europe Found in Greece

Archaeological flotation was used to uncover the secrets of this ancient site.

Beer and wine are very old institutions across the globe. Most of us think of France as the wine capital of the world, but new research shows that the title of the oldest wine in Europe so far discovered now goes to Greece. Evidence of Neolithic winemaking has been uncovered in the ancient settlement of Dikili Tash near Filippoi and Krinides, Greece, and shows evidence of winemaking even in the very early days of grape domestication.

Dikili Tash in Greece
Via: Schuppi /Wiki Commons

A prehistoric house that once burned down is the reason for this discovery. The house, had it been lived in, would have evolved and changed over the years. But, because it was ruined by fire in 4300 BC and then abandoned time preserved the house under earth. Winemaking around 4000 BC has been shown to use grapes from both wild and domesticated grapes, meaning it was likely the dawn of the cultivation of grapes on a larger scale.

Finds of interest from the site are thousands of grape seeds and pomace, which is the leftover fruit pulp from making wine. Physical evidence showed that inside the house wine was being made in a large, ceramic pot.

red wine being poured into a wine glass
Via: Jeff Siepman/Unsplash

Researchers used the archeological flotation method to examine the soil surrounding the structure. In this process soil from the excavation site is placed in water and organic plant materials float to the top.

According to Sultana-Maria Valamoti, an archaeologist with the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, “Thousands of liters of soil have been processed by the method of flotation and a variety of archaeological sites have already been or are being researched archaeobotanically.”

fresh pomace from grapes
An example of fresh grape pomace. Via: Wiki Commons

Researchers from various universities collaborated to examine the ancient winemaking of the site through the PlantCult Project funded by the European Research Council and hosted by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. The project seeks to unravel the the culinary traditions of ancient Europe in order to understand how the foodways there have changed over time.

Research that led to the discovery of the oldest yet known winemaking operation in Europe was presented at the “The research work at the Department of History and Archaeology of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki” event which took place on June 6th, 2021.