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2022 26 September


The origin of wine is very ancient, and records of who invented this prized product are lost in time long past. The history of wine is intertwined with that of the oldest civilizations through the foundation myths, the great heroes of literature of the past, and the religiosity and culture of primitive peoples. It is a history of discoveries, inventions and innovations, and we at Banfi are proud to have left our mark on the history of wine as pioneers of technological innovation and tradition. 

There are many civilizations or people who have been credited with the invention of wine, but currently scholars are unable to state with certainty who invented wine and where. However, given the great interest in the history of wine among the producers and connoisseurs of this beverage, archaeologists and experts continue to investigate, reporting new information often that shows the origin of wine in different places and times. 

Etymology of the word wine 

The Italian word "vino" which is rather similar in almost all Romance languages and beyond, is derived from the Latin "vinum," which, in turn, originates from the classical Greek "οἶνος." The common origin of the word in all civilizations of Indo-European derivation bears witness to the ancient origin of this beverage. 

The use of this Latin word would later spread to the Umbrian, Oscan, Faliscan, and Lepontian-speaking peoples, and later to the Celtic and Germanic languages. Even the Slavic terms used to refer to wine seem to derive from a Latin loanword. 

According to other theories, the term would instead derive from the Sanskrit word "veins" that shares the same root as Venus, the name of the Roman goddess of love and pleasure, highlighting wine's vocation to enjoyment and pleasure. 

Who invented wine according to different myths 

The great early civilizations, devoted to the consumption of wine for both ritual and entertainment purposes, produced several myths concerning the cultivation of vines and the transformation of grapes into wine. Myths that still charm today and have given rise to legendary figures, such as the Greek god Bacchus, have become emblematic of wine and its history.  

Old Testament and Christianity 

According to biblical accounts, the inventor of wine is Noah who, after the Great Flood, having found one of the tree branches that Adam had stolen from the earthly paradise, planted the first vine and, finding the fruit delicious, learned to systematically cultivate it and make wine from its clusters. But this is not the only story about wine and vine in the Old Testament: some traditions see the vine and not the apple as the forbidden fruit that resulted in the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. The theme of wine then also returns in Christianity, where this beverage takes on a fundamental Eucharist role becoming a symbol of the blood of Jesus Christ.  


For the Persians, the discovery of wine is intertwined with the heroic deeds of Shah Jamshid, who receives the gift of vine seed as thanks for saving the life of a magical creature. Legend has it that when the vine clusters, once harvested in the jars, began to give off a bad odor, Jamshid had the jars hidden in the cellar, labeling them as poison. One of his concubines, wanting to take her own life for being neglected by her lord, drank the beverage deemed poison but instead of perishing, she discovered the beneficial effects of the wine and immediately informed the ruler of her discovery, regaining his favor.  

Who invented wine according to the Greeks 

According to Greek mythology, the god Dionysus (Bacchus to the Romans), son of Zeus and the nymph Semele, is the one who invented wine. The god, playing with grapes in his hands, ran the sweetish liquid from them, and once he tasted it, he was affected by a state of glee and elation. He later discovered that the longer the juice was allowed to rest, the better it tasted. Moreover, the vine would be none other than the body of Ampelo, the young boy beloved by the god, transformed into a vine after his tragic death. 

Where wine was born: archaeological discoveries 

Although one popular belief sets the invention of wine in Egypt, archaeological finds move the first production of wine to the Caucasus area about 10,000 years ago. The oldest wine jar ever found (dating back to 5,100 B.C.) was in fact discovered in a Neolithic village in the northern part of Iran while the oldest "wine house" dates back to 4,100 B.C. and it was based in Armenia. A cave used for fermentation and wine production was found here, where wild grapes still grow. 

From a cultivation point of view, however, the presence of vitis vinifera, the plant from which the vine originates, was found in China dating back to 7,000 B.C., Georgia dating back to 6,000 B.C., Iran dating back to 5,000 B.C., Greece dating back to 4,500 B.C., and on the shores of the Caspian Sea and in eastern Turkey

Over the years, there have been numerous archaeological studies performed to confirm the various theories about the origins of wine and where wine originated. The most recent ones seem to support the widely held view that the Caucasus is the place of origin of wine. Between 2007 and 2010, a cave with 3 rooms entirely dedicated to winemaking was unearthed near the Arpa River in this region.  

In addition to some vitis vinifera seeds, scholars found a cellar with a grape press and fermentation tank, along with several wine containers. The objects date the site to about 4,100 B.C, which is several centuries earlier than what until recently was considered the oldest evidence of winemaking in history: a bas-relief in an Ancient Egyptian tomb dated around 2,500 B.C.. 

Wine: a history of innovation and invention 

Tracing the history of wine, its use by ancient civilizations and the inventions that led to the creation of the bottle as it is known today is a long and fascinating journey, but one that emphasizes even more the close connection of humans with wine. 

Ancient times 

In the ancient world, wine was considered a fine beverage.   

The Phoenicians were the largest producers of it at the time and, through their trade, spread wine-making techniques throughout the Mediterranean. But it was in Greece and Rome that a true wine culture was born, thanks to the importance the Greeks and Romans gave to the God Bacchus/Dionysus during their celebrations. However, to counteract the state of drunkenness given by wine, which was considered unbecoming of the customs of the time, the Romans were in the habit of diluting it with water.  

Middle Ages 

In the Middle Ages, the use of wine in Eucharistic liturgy promoted the handing down of ancient winemaking techniques, as well as the creation of the wine "recipe" as we know it today, without the aromas and herbs with which the ancients enriched wine back then.  

Modern age and inventions 

In modern times, the great food discoveries of the 15th-18th centuries such as beer, tea and chocolate reached Europe while wine began to be exported to the New World

Although glass products have been part of human culture since prehistoric times, as has wine, it was not until the 1600s that the first wine bottle, the so-called "English Bottle" the ancestor of modern bottles, was produced. Some sources attribute its authorship to English philosopher and thinker Kenelm Digby, although the wine glass bottle was patented by British Royal Navy officer John Colnett later on in time. 

Another milestone in the history of wine was the invention of the cork, which, due to its porosity, creates a perfect balance between the air in the bottle and the air outside, allowing the aging process to take place.  

Although it is not known for sure who invented wine, it is certain that its invention left a mark on our agri-food history.



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