They have now pushed back the date of the earliest known herbal wine to 3150 BC by using biomolecular archaeology to identify traces of grapes and herbs.
A jar from the tomb of one of Egypt’s first pharaohs, Scorpion I, was found to be steeped with herbs including balm, coriander, mint and sage, as well as pine tree resin.
Wine was a luxury drink and bottles were labelled with the name, year of harvest, source and even vine grower.
Pharaoh Scorpion I was a ruler considered to have been buried in the oldest tomb known at the royal cemetery of Abydos, eight miles west of the River Nile.
Records from the period written on papyrus show that such herbs were widely used to treat conditions from upset stomachs to herpes. Another Egyptian wine called amphora, from between the 4th and 6th centuries AD, was laced with pine resin and rosemary.
Adding tree resin to wine to prevent disease was widely known in ancient times, also being reported in ancient China, and continuing into the Middle Ages, the researchers say.
Dr McGovern said: ‘Chemical analyses of ancient organics absorbed into pottery jars from the beginning of advanced ancient Egyptian culture and continuing for millennia have revealed that a range of natural products – specifically, herbs and tree resins – were dispensed by grape wine.
Wine + Herbs: Herb and Wine Pairing Chart
Whites: Chardonnay (unsoaked), Orvieto, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Soave, sparkling
Reds: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah/Shiraz (esp. fruity), Chianti, Gavi, Merlot, Nebbiolo, rosé, Sangiovese (esp. with hearty dishes), Syrah/Shiraz, Zinfandel
Herb Flavor: Bay Leaf
Whites: Sauvignon Blanc
Reds: Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chianti, Pinotage, Sangiovese, Zinfandel
Herb Flavor: Capers
Whites: Muscadet, Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris (esp. dry), Sancerre, Sauvignon Blanc
Reds: Beaujolais (high-acid), Pinot Noir, rosé (dry)
Notes: Dry white wines
Herb Flavor: Caraway Seeds
Whites: Gewürtraminer, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc
Reds: Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah/Shiraz
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