The history of viticulture and winemaking in Egypt goes back more than 5 thousand years. Popular even today, Meroe wines were known at the time of Queen Cleopatra. The frescoes of several tombs in the Valley of the Kings depict all the stages of preparation of this invigorating drink: from harvesting grapes, to its fermentation and bottling. Archaeologists found vessels with wine more than 6 thousand years old in the tomb of the first Egyptian pharaoh Scorpio I.
The climate favorable for the development of the vine, the abundance of sunlight and heat allowed the ancient Egyptians to quickly cultivate the wild vine. In the Nile Delta, vineyards were successfully planted on fertile soils. There are five known varieties of Egyptian red wine produced in ancient times.
Blood of the gods
According to ancient Egyptian mythology, vineyards appeared at the place of death of the gods during battles, therefore vineyards were considered sacred, and wine was revered as the blood of the killed gods. It was believed that only priests and pharaohs can cope with divine power, and commoners can lose their minds, being unable to curb it. Therefore, local wines were available only to the nobility and they were very expensive, and the common people were content with cheap barley beer.
The priests used wine for their rituals, without this «divine nectar» they would not enter the kingdom of the dead. In temples and cemeteries, silver cups were brought to the gods, and vessels with wine were placed in the tomb to make the journey through the afterlife smooth. Pharaohs found in wine a source of additional energy and confirmation of their power, and ordinary Egyptians were terribly afraid of the divine drink, which was considered healing.
Ancient healers treated their wounds, relieved pain, made medicinal herbal tinctures on its basis, which they gave to patients.
It is not excluded that a significant role was played here by the ability to compose potions with wine and herbs, which raised even hopeless patients to their feet.
Unfortunately, Egypt’s millennial winemaking tradition fell into decay after the collapse of the ancient empire. Until the end of the 20th century, no one succeeded in reviving viticulture in this country. Climate change is likely to blame.
Now, thanks to the efforts of the Sakkara Beverages company, eight main varieties of wines are successfully produced in Egypt. The main population of the country is Muslims, who are forbidden to drink alcohol, so local wines are mainly exported and for the tourist business.
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