We believe this is the oldest example of the domestication of a wild-growing Eurasian
grapevine solely for the production of wine
said co-author Stephen Batiuk, a senior researcher
at the University of Toronto.
Wine is central to civilisation as we know it in the West. As a medicine,
social lubricant, mind-altering substance and highly valued commodity, wine became
the focus of religious cults, pharmacopoeias, cuisines, economies and society in the ancient Near East.
The pottery jars were discovered in two Neolithic villages, called Gadachrili Gora and
Shulaveris Gora, about 50km (30 miles) south of Tbilisi, researchers said.
Large jars called qvevri, similar to the ancient ones, are still used for wine-making
in Georgia, said David Lordkipanidze, director of the Georgian National Museum who
helped lead the research.
Mr Batiuk said the wine was probably made in a similar way to the qvevri method today
where the grapes are crushed and the fruit, stems and seeds are all fermented together
Previously, the earliest evidence of grape wine-making had been
found in the Zagros Mountains of Iran and dated to 5,400-5,000 BC.