Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Egyptian Wine: Origins and Development

Around 3000 B.C., before the establishment of a royal winemaking industry in the Nile Delta, the initial pharaohs acquired wine from the Levant and quickly developed a preference for it. In ancient Egypt, wine held a prestigious position, mainly enjoyed by the upper classes and the royal family, and played a significant role in daily temple rituals and funerary offerings.

Despite the absence of wild grapes in ancient Egypt, a thriving royal winemaking industry emerged in the Nile Delta by Dynasty 3, marking the beginning of the Old Kingdom period. Depictions of viticulture and winemaking scenes adorned the walls of private tombs from the Old Kingdom through the Graeco-Roman times.

During the 18th dynasty (1550-1295 B.C.), scenes of winemaking became a common motif in the tombs of Theban officials. In the New Kingdom Period (1539-1075 B.C.), wine jars (amphorae) were engraved with hieratic script, providing details such as the vintage year, product name (irp or shedeh), quality, provenance, property ownership (royal or private), and the name and title of the wine-maker.

Red wine held sway in ancient Egypt, as Egyptian mythology exclusively linked wine with the color red. There were no textual references to white or red wine in the context of ancient Egypt.

The initial mention of white wine in Egypt can be found in Athenaeus of Naucratis' work "The Deipnosophistae," penned during the 3rd century BC. He describes Mareotis wine, located near the city of Alexandria in the area of Lake Mariut, as "excellent, white, and enjoyable, aromatic."
Egyptian Wine: Origins and Development

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