Egyptian wine

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Cultivation of grape, relief in the tomb of Userhêt

Wine making has a long tradition in Egypt which goes back to the 3rd millennium BC but declined after the Islamic conquest. The modern wine industry which is relatively small scale developed around Alexandria.

Ancient Egypt[edit]

In Egypt, wine played an important role in ancient ceremonial life. A thriving royal winemaking industry was established in the Nile Delta following the introduction of grape cultivation from the Levant to Egypt c. 3000 BC. The industry was most likely the result of trade between Egypt and Canaan during the Early Bronze Age, commencing from at least the Third Dynasty (2650–2575 BC), the beginning of the Old Kingdom period (2650–2152 BC). Winemaking scenes on tomb walls, and the offering lists that accompanied them, included wine that was definitely produced at the deltaic vineyards. By the end of the Old Kingdom, five wines, all probably produced in the Delta, constitute a canonical set of provisions, or fixed "menu," for the afterlife.

Wine in ancient Egypt was predominantly red. A recent discovery, however, has revealed the first ever evidence of white wine in ancient Egypt. Residue from five clay amphorae from Pharaoh Tutankhamun's tomb yielded traces of white wine.[1]

Egypt's lower classes preferred beer as a daily drink rather than wine.

Modern wines[edit]

Today Egypt produces about half a million gallons of wine a year. About half-dozen wines are produced near Alexandria. The most commonly found are Omar Khayyam (very dry red), Cru des Ptolémées (dry white) and Rubis d'Egypt (rosé).[2] There are currently only three major producers of wine: Gianaclis (which produces all the above mentioned labels plus Chateau Grand Marquis), Chateau des Rêves (which actually imports grapes from Lebanon) and Obelisk. The two primary varietals under cultivation are Pinot blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon. [3] The vineyards are located around Lake Maryut.

References[edit]

  1. ^ White wine turns up in King Tutankhamen's tomb. USA Today, 29 May 2006.
  2. ^ The Rough Guide to Egypt, 7th edition, 2007, p. 52
  3. ^ http://www.vinography.com/archives/2005/05/all_about_egyptian_wine.html