Image: Mindia Jalabadze, courtesy of the National Museum of Georgia

“We will sell no wine before its time.” So ran the tagline to ads for Paul Masson.

It is fair to say that the “wines” unearthed by geologists in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, were they on sale, would not be before the time, but that is because they are 8,000 years old, making the world’s oldest.

Technically, these are not wines at all but residual wine compounds found on the interior of pottery shards. The jugs themselves are adorned with carvings of grape clusters and a man dancing.

The discovery was reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). According to BBC News:

The pottery jars were discovered in two Neolithic villages, called Gadachrili Gora and Shulaveris Gora, about 50km (30 miles) south of Tbilisi, researchers said.

Telltale chemical signs of wine were discovered in eight jars, the oldest one dating from about 5,980 BC.

Stephen Batiuk, a co-author of report and senior researcher at the University of Toronto:

We believe this is the oldest example of the domestication of a wild-growing Eurasian grapevine solely for the production of wine.

Wine is central to civilisation 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.