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Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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Celts, peoples who inhabited western Europe before the rise of Ancient rome. Many of them were introduced to wine by the Romans, when some were already skilled coopers.

The first clear evidence that wine drinking with its attendant rituals was penetrating the courts of the prehistoric barbarian élites in western central Europe (eastern France, southern Germany, and Switzerland) appears in the archaeological record in the 6th century bc.

Griffon-headed cauldrons, craters, jugs and strainers, and fine painted Attic cups, all of which would have been used at a Greek symposium, were shipped to Mediterranean ports such as Massilia (Marseilles). From there they were transported along the navigable rivers into the hinterland to be used in the complex systems of gift exchange which bound these peoples to the Greek and Etruscan traders of the south. Along with these trappings of civilization came wine. How much of it, if any, was at this stage Greek or Italian is difficult to tell. What is certain is that the large ceramic amphorae in which the wine was transported inland were manufactured along the coast of southern France in the vicinity of Marseilles, suggesting, but not proving, that most of the wine consumed was locally manufactured.