Today, wine is made all over the world, and many of those wines are very, very good. This wasn’t always the case, however. When the Colonists first came to America, back in 1607, they attempted to make some wine in Jamestown, Virginia from some old musty vines they found growing in the region. The wine was atrocious. They sent back for help from the wine masters in Europe and several French winemakers came to their aid. It took quite a while for the vines to start producing good wines, but obviously, they were able to help out considerably, since Thomas Jefferson went on to become one of the first successful wine producers (about 167 years later) from his Monticello Estate in 1774.
Today, the winemaking tradition continues at Monticello, as well as various other places throughout the State of Virginia.
Wine making traditions have evolved considerably over time, and so have the ways of labeling and identifying these wines. Back in the days of Ancient Greece, wine was shipped from place to place in large clay vessels known as amphoras. The handles of the amphoras noted where the wine was produced and by whom. Wine was sold in wooden casks from the days of the Roman Empire, and those casks were marked with identifying stencils or branding irons. By the end of the 18th century, bottles were being made and became the way of containing and shipping wines from place to place. The names and vintages of the wine producers were etched into the glass. Paper labels were introduced in the 19th century and are similar to the wine labels still used around the world today.
The amphoras of Ancient Greece.
The wine casks of old.
Early wine bottles.
Cognac is a type of wine that has been made with the addition of brandy. Originally it was known as a brandewijn or a burnt wine by the Dutch who produced it. The English called this burnt wine brandy. Cognac has been around, in some form or another, since around the 3rd century. Cognac is made from white grapes from the Charante region of France and is named after the town of Cognac. Cognac as we know it today, was started in the 16th century. The Dutch are responsible for this very fine, much beloved adult libation. When wines were being transported from place to place, often times the wines would spoil during the process. So the Dutch started to process the wines in the Netherlands to preserve the flavors and the qualities of the wine. Part of this processing was to add brandy to the wines as a way of preserving them. Cognac and brandies today are considered the creme de la creme of wines and are sought by wine lovers everywhere.
There is much more to wine than just pouring it into a glass for enjoyment. The world of wine has a long, rich tradition and is full of history and intrigue. Today, I have hopefully opened your world to a bit more knowledge and fun facts about our much beloved libation known as the “nectar of the Gods”. Salud! A votre sante! Slainte!
Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.