Phylloxera: Why all French wine might really be American

by Steve Martindale

France is rightly famous for its wine industry and produces some of the most sought-after vintages in the world. Wine has formed an important part of this country’s culture and economy for centuries, but 150 years ago a tiny American aphid brought the industry to its knees and very nearly signalled the end of French wine.

Who ‘invented’ wine is a topic of heated debate, with a number of countries laying claim. As early as 7,000 BC, ancient tribes from the Yellow River Valley of China were drinking a fermented rice/honey/fruit wine which they stored in earthenware jars, but this would not be recognisable as wine as we know it today. Between 6,000 and 5,000 BC, there is increasing evidence of wine production in Georgia, then Armenia and Iran.

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