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THERE’S VINTAGE WINE and then there’s old wine. Really, really old wine. Wine that was around before the pyramids of Egypt old. Of course it’s just traces of wine so not drinkable but still, it’s very old! Eight thousand-year-old earthenware jars containing residual wine compounds were recently found in two sites south of the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. It is believed to be the earliest evidence of grape wine-making. Some of the jars bore images of grape clusters and a man dancing. Previously, the earliest evidence of wine-making was from pottery dating from about 7OOO years ago found in north-western Iran. “We believe this is the oldest example of the domestication of a wild-growing Eurasian grapevine solely for the production of wine,” said Stephen Batiuk, a senior researcher at the University of Toronto. “Wine is central to civilization as we know it in the West. As a medicine, social lubricant, mind-altering substance and highly valued commodity, wine became the focus of religious cults, pharmacopoeias, cuisines, economies and society in the ancient Near East.” The pottery jars were discovered in two Neolithic villages about 3O miles south of Tbilisi. Telltale chemical signs of wine were discovered in eight jars, the oldest one dating from about 598O BC. Large jars called qvevri, similar to the ancient ones, are still used for wine-making in Georgia, said David Lordkipanidze, director of the Georgian National Museum who helped lead the research. It is believed that wine was probably made in a similar way to the qvevri method today where the grapes are crushed and the fruit, stems and seeds are all fermented together. The latest finds were published in the journal PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES.