In the middle of the last century, the German-born scientist Ferdi Harsch-Fischbach first tried to determine the origins of wine and beer drinking cultures. He developed a theory called the “Culture Factor,” which suggested that the flavor of wine is largely based on the grape varieties used to ferment it. Most cultures that consume wine, he determined, grew grapes where the main climate and soil conditions gave out that particular flavor. In other words, the biggest differences in wine styles come from the grapes used to make it.
In my opinion, there has always been an odd dichotomy between beer geeks and wine snobs. Beer geeks are usually the way one would expect: flat out nerds, with a passion for the underlying science of their craft. This kind of beer geek would know a little about the chemical balance of hops, barley, and yeast—but wouldn’t know the difference between pilsner and dunkel, or what IBUs are.
Have you ever heard someone say that wine is just a bit of grapes fermented, whereas beer is just grains fermented? Of course, this is a false analogy; wine and beer are two very different drinks with completely different flavors. But how did the two fall into each other’s category of alcoholic beverages?If you’re a wine or beer lover, you’ve probably met a few wine snobs or beer geeks. While this may seem like a modern phenomenon, thousands of years have proven otherwise. But like everything in history, it depends on where you look.
Take for example Pliny the Elder, a first century Roman general and writer. During his campaigns, he noted what soldiers in various regions drank the night before a battle. According to Travis Rupp, a beer archaeologist who teaches Greek and Roman history courses at the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus, it was often beer.
Pliny the Elder wrote more about beer than any other Roman, he said. He doesn’t seem to care much for the drink, though.
For example, Pliny wrote: Drinks are also made from it [i.e. grain], zythum [beer] in Egypt, caelia [beer] and cerea [beer] in Spain, cervesia [beer] and many other kinds in Gaul and other provinces….. But as for the drink itself, we’d better move on to the subject of wine…..
There was no Latin word for beer, so Pliny used different terms in different parts of the world. Many Roman authors also wrote about beer, such as Polybius, Diodorus Siculus, Tacitus and Dioscorides, who wrote extensively about various cuisines and medical doctrines.
Timeline by Eric DeFreitas / Getty
So these people will talk about beer, but often in a frame very similar to that of Pliny the Elder, that it is something that other people [drink], he says. The real Romans drank wine and the others drank beer.
When the Romans conquered different parts of the world, they brought this ideology with them. Pliny was not the first snob in antiquity. The fact that the Romans despised beer and its drinkers is a concept they adopted from the Greeks, says Rupp.
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Homer, perhaps the most famous poet of ancient Greece, expressed these views in his epics The Iliad and The Odyssey. There is no exact date for Homer’s life, but many historians believe he wrote his epic poems between the late eighth and seventh centuries BC.
In the Iliad, wine is used to convey privileges. Those with higher social status drank wine of better quality. In the Odyssey, Odysseus uses wine as a means of escape from monsters and other creatures unfamiliar with Greek drinking culture and the intoxicating effects of alcohol.
Homer’s work provides an important perspective on ancient Greek culinary culture, but Rupp argues that he cannot be the only source to whom we turn, for he writes very closely… So we have to be careful not to take everything that comes from these sources at face value.
In the fifth century b. Chr. Athens entered a golden age of scientific research, philosophy and art. Historians often refer to this period to appreciate the importance of beer over wine in ancient Greek society. An important source is Aristophanes, the comic playwright.
There was no word for beer in the Greek language, and it’s not talked about much, Rupp says. This is one reason why gross generalizations have been made that the Greeks just didn’t drink beer. All because these high profile people who write all this literature don’t talk about it.
Erotian has written extensively about beer in conjunction with medical treatments.
If you look at Erotian, in his philosophical anecdotes about the philosophy of Hippocrates, he actually mentions things that we might consider beer, says Rupp. Barley wine, barley juice and other similar products used for medicinal purposes are discussed.
Greece fell in 146 b. Chr. under Roman rule and became one of the many territories, which it occupied from the late third to the second century BC. Chr. Chr. conquered.
During Rome’s conquest of Spain, Pliny described the natives as beer drinkers before Roman influence, that they drank a beer very similar to that of the Gauls, which was a kind of muddy wheat beer, according to Rupp.
After the arrival of the Romans, the drinking culture in Spain changed.
Today we think of Spain, and we think of wine culture, says Rupp. You have the Rioja region and all those wonderful wines that come from Spain. Archaeobotanical evidence suggests that grape growing was not widespread in Spain before the arrival of the Romans.
In ancient Rome, wine had strong religious ties. Constantine I defeated Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge (312 B.C.) and was defeated in 324 B.C. Chr. the first king of the Roman Empire. Chr. Ruler of Rome. He began to transform Rome into a monotheistic institution. In this context, wine has become increasingly important.
Think of the Christian religion, says Rupp. There is the Lord’s Supper and the drinking of the blood of Christ, and the wine is included in it. Where drinking beer was a symbol of not converting to Christianity and therefore being a barbarian, another one.
It came to be in ancient Egypt (3100 – 332 B.C.), where beer cultivation was flourishing and the soil was not suitable for wine production. The empires in the region of Oxyrinchus in ancient Egypt still took advantage of it.
They grew grapes to make wine, but much of this dates from a later time, we are talking about the sixth or seventh century [b]. Chr.], perhaps in response to what the Romans had already done in the area, Rupp said.
Eusebius, author of a religious biography of Constantine, wrote that the Egyptians drank beer before the Lord lived among them, Rupp said. Thus beer was a marker of the distant past and of pagan institutions.
It is tempting to read the ancient Roman, Greek and Egyptian authors and assume that beer was not an important part of their culture. But most of the material comes to us through the prism of the super-elite, says Rupp.
For example, there are people in the upper class of Greek society who can read, while the vast majority of the population cannot, he says. In ancient Greece and Rome, probably only 1% of the population could read and write. And, of course, they will be people of wealth and aristocracy. It is the lens through which we see this story.
It is important to consider many different sources, such as medical texts, dramas, art and modern science.
Imagine if we let the richest one percent of our population write our entire history and everything related to food and alcohol culture, says Rupp. That’s not true, is it?In the past, beer drinkers and wine drinkers were considered to be two separate groups. Most people think that beer drinking is for men and wine drinking is for women.. Read more about best hoppy lagers and let us know what you think.
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