Man learnt about wine-making before writing

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Man learnt about wine-making before writing, new archaeological evidence claims.The contents of a pottery jar, excavated in the Zagros mountains of northern Iran, indicate that man knew 7,000 years ago that grapes were good for more than just eating, say a team of scientists from the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia. They show residues of tartaric acid, found only in large quantities in grapes, and oleoresin, a natural additive used to slow the conversion of alcohol to vinegar.

The first wine would probably have tasted like the Greek favourite retsina, which is flavoured with pine resin, because of the use of the additive, made of resin from the terebinth tree. Wine was invented in what may have been one of man's most productive periods, gastronomically speaking. About 5,000 BC, humans also devised bread, beer, and milk products such as cheese and yoghurt. The result which is described in today's issue of the science journal Nature is the oldest vintage in the world - a Stone Age taste which dates back to between 5,400 and 5,000 BC when axes were made by binding stones into cleft sticks.