Thanks to a recent archaeological discovery, soon you just might be able to drink the Byzantine Empire's favorite vintage, the "Wine of the Negev."
For the first time, grape seeds from the Byzantine era have been found.
These grapes were used to produce “the Wine of the Negev” — one of the
finest and most renowned wines in the whole of the Byzantine Empire. The
charred seeds, over 1,500 years-old, were found at the Halutza
excavation site in the Negev during a joint dig by the University of
Haifa and the Israel Antiquities Authority. “The vines growing in the
Negev today are European varieties, whereas the Negev vine was lost to
the world. Our next job is to recreate the ancient wine, and perhaps in
that way we will be able to reproduce its taste and understand what made
the Negev wine so fine,” said Prof. Guy Bar-Oz of the University of
Haifa, director of the excavation.
The archeologists know of “the Wine of the Negev” or “Gaza Wine” — named
for the port it was sent from to all corners of the empire — from
historical sources from the Byzantine period. This wine was considered
to be of very high quality and was very expensive, but unfortunately, it
did not survive to our day, so we do not know what it was that made it
so fine. In earlier excavations in the Negev, archeologists found the
terraces where the vines were cultivated, the wineries where wine was
produced, and the jugs in which the wine was stored and exported, but
the grape seeds themselves were not found.
I would love to be able to drink to that. L'chaim!