Ancient Egyptian wine was a main staple of their diet as well as celebrations. There was a wide variety of wines in ancient Egypt including red and white versions.
Ancient Egyptian wine was considered to be the best in the world. Wine was consumed at almost all meals because the Nile River was polluted.
Celebrations and religious ceremonies
Ancient Egyptian wine was used for all types of celebrations from weddings to birthdays to simply having a party. Rich families consumed more wine than poor people who preferred drinking beer which was more inexpensive.
Parties were plentiful in ancient Egypt with some type of celebration to be found every day of the week. People would invite friends to their homes and provide food, drink as well as entertainment.
Drunkenness was common at parties with ancient Egyptians. Overindulging in wine signified wealth and was seen as a positive.
Religious ceremonies were centered on red wine. Red wine was seen as blood and sacrifices to the gods were necessary.
As the statutes of different gods were taken from street to street within a city, followers would indulge in wine after the statue passed.
Celebrating life was a key aspect to happiness in ancient Egypt and the ancient Egyptians knew how to throw a party.
Grapes for making wine were grown in vineyards that look similar to a modern day vineyard. Grape plants would be planted along a row of wooden trusses or racks and then trained to grow on the structures.
The wooden structures were often painted to provide a sense of style to a vineyard and the owner. While the grapes were growing, young boys were used to scare away birds with sling shots, rocks and/or their voices.
Harvesting of grapes was easier when grapes were grown on these wooden structures. The harvesting of grapes took place by people wearing baskets on their heads, slung on their backs or even a yoke type garment was worn to collect the grapes in bunches.
There are paintings in tombs that have monkeys assisting humans with the harvesting of grapes but humans harvested most of the grapes.
The harvested grapes were taken to wine press. There were many different types of wine presses in ancient Egypt. The most simple was a bag which would be squeezed to crush the grapes.
The more common type of wine press was the foot press. The foot press was a large tub which passed the juices from the grapes to vats or troughs. Men and women would stand in the tub and crush the grapes.
They would be held upright by ropes wrapped around the roof to stabilize them while pressing the grapes. Foot presses were ornately decorated and very large. The foot press is believed to be the first pressing of the grapes and grapes would be pressed again in a bag press.
Fermentation was similar to present day wine making methods. After the juice was partially fermented, it would be placed in amphorae vessels to age and finish fermenting.
Amphorae vessels in ancient Egypt were coated on the inside with a resin to protect the porous jars from tainting the wine. Ancient Egyptian winemakers would inscribe the name of the vineyard, type of grape and vintage on the amphorae vessels similar to present day winemakers.
Ancient Egyptian wine would then be filtered one more time and some wine makers would add spices or honey to enhance the flavor before the fermentation process ended.
Important facts about ancient Egyptian wine
- Ancient Egyptian wine was made primarily of grapes.
- Rich people had many parties where wine was the most consumed beverage.
- Poorer people tended to drink more beer than wine.
- Vineyards used wood structures or trusses to help grow and harvest grapes.
- The foot press was the most common way to extract juice from the grapes.
- Amphorae vessels were used to store, age and ferment wine.
- Consuming too much wine or getting drunk was considered to be a sign of wealth.
- Some wines were flavored with dates, figs and other fruits.
- What type of vessel was used to store, age and ferment wine?
- Besides a foot press, ancient Egyptians used what other type of press to extract juice?
- Wine was primarily drunk by what class of people?
- What did red wine signify during religious ceremonies?
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