Most people probably don’t know much about Armenian wines in comparison with wines from other parts of the world. But Armenian wines are in fact some of the oldest known wines. Did you know that the oldest winery in the world was discovered in Armenia? Let’s learn a bit more about the wine from this interesting country.
The knowledge of Armenian wine was expanded not too long ago. A team of Armenian, Irish and American archaeologists found a cave in the province of Vayotz Dzor (near the Iranian and Turkish borders). The findings in this cave have since then been determined to be remains from the oldest winery in the world. The archaeologists found remains of cups, bowls, pressed grapes and seeds, among other discoveries, inside the cave.
How Do We Know It Is the Oldest Winery in the World?
The archaeologists used carbon dating to determine that the grape remains found in the cave dated all the way back to 4,000 BC. This is an astonishing find which lets us know that the fermentation of grapes was already being done as far back as the Copper Age.
We, therefore, know that the production of wine stretches very far back in time. Furthermore, the studies concluded, that the people of the time used to drink the wine at funeral ceremonies and at any event surrounding the royalty of the different periods. This was deduced because many tombs were found next to the winemaking sites. The archaeologists also discovered remains of Malvidin, which is a natural pigment that gives the wine its red colour.
How Was the Wine Made?
The winemakers used large bowls in which they pressed the grapes with their feet to make their wine. The must that was produced was then poured into casks of clay where it was fermented. The size of each cask was approximately one meter in diameter, and it could hold around 54 litres of liquid.
The archaeologists also concluded that the people of the time stored their wine inside the cave in different jars and vessels. In that regard, not much has changed. To this day we store wine in a similar fashion because we know that a cool climate preserves the wine perfectly.
Some experts believe that viticulture might have been born in these Armenian mountains.
Armenian Wine Today
Armenian wines are still appreciated to this day. Several wineries in the country, both old and new, have a great historical and cultural legacy. One example is Karas, which has more than 400 hectares of vineyards located at an average altitude of 1,100 meters above sea level.
These vineyards produce grapes of both international and native varieties. For white wines, these include chardonnay, viognier, and kangun. Among the varieties for red wines, you will find malbec, tannat, syrah, merlot, and cabernet franc.