Text Size:-+

Pharaohs Prefer Red

sennefer.jpgWe've known that the Egyptians had wine for a long time. If the funky jars with wax stoppers and grapey residue in them weren't enough, we had the gorgeous tomb paintings from the Tombs of Sennefer in the Valley of The Nobles in Luxor, Egypt showing in vivid color the growing, harvesting, mashing, and fermenting of grapes into wine. In fact, the specific paintings I'm talking about were some of the most beautiful and vivid tomb paintings that we saw anywhere in Egypt when Ruth and I were there this past May. Wine, which experts believe was introduced from Canaan several thousand years B.C., was a big deal for the Egyptians, so much so that it seems that it was a drink reserved for royalty.

One of the things that we have never know, strangely, is whether the Pharaohs drank red or white wine. This is because up until recently, the means did not exist to distinguish between residues of red and white wine. We knew it was wine, but we didn't know what color. I guess this tells us also that red wine stains come out after about 6000 years -- good news for some of us who spill a lot of it.

Now however, thanks to some advances in chemical analysis, we have learned that the ancient Egyptians indeed drank red wine. Not just any Egyptians either, but the most famous (to most of the word) King Tut. Yep, the Boy King went to the afterlife with several cases of his best stuff, carefully labeled by vintage year, vineyard, and winemaker.

The next trick will be, of course, to figure out just what varietal he was drinking. I've got my money on Pinot. for Tut's sake I hope it was better than modern Egyptian reds. If not, he may be one eternally unhappy dude.

Buy My Award-Winning Book!

small_final_covershot_dropshadow.jpg A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. 2015 Roederer Award Winner.Learn more.

Follow Me On:

Twitter Instagram Delectable Flipboard Pinterest

Most Recent Entries

Holiday Gift Guide for the Wine Lover Who Has Everything I'll Drink to That: Andrew McNamara of The Court of Master Sommeliers Vinography Unboxed: Week of November 22, 2015 I'll Drink to That: Bruce Neyers of Neyers Vineyards Vinography Images: Rows of Gold A Lonely Hillside: The Wines of Alto de la Ballena, Uruguay I'll Drink to That: Karen MacNeil The Most Untrustworthy Wine in the World Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 11/22 I'll Drink to That: CP Lin of Erewhon

Favorite Posts From the Archives

Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune

Archives by Month


Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud