This is one of my favorite topics to research, so I thought I'd share a few interesting historical facts.
Early Romans were the first to use ceramic jugs for storing wines. The Celts of Northern Europe were first to use wooden oak barrels for storing their wines. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Christian Monks took over the development of European wine. Until the 20th Century, fine wine was almost exclusively European.
"Toasting" started in Ancient Rome when Romans continued the Greek tradition but dropped a piece of toasted bread into each wine glass to temper escessive acidity or undesirable tastes.
In ancient Greece, a dinner host would take the first sip of wine to assure guests the wine was not poisoned, thus "drinking to one's health".
In early Rome women weren't allowed to drink wine! Her husband could divorce her, or even kill her if she were caught!
Romans discovered mixing lead with wine, not only helping to preserve it, but it also gave it a sweet taste and succulent texture. (Cronic lead poisoning has often been cited as a main cause of the decline of Rome).
When Tutankhamens tomb was opened in 1922, wine jars were buried with him labeled with the year, name of the winemaker and comments such as "very good wine". One read: "Year 5. Wine of the house of Tutankhamun Ruler of the Southern-On (in) the Western River By the chief vintner Khaa".
Marie Griffin is ABC Fine Wine & Spirits' NW Florida Wine Supervsior