The cultivation of the domesticated grape began 6,000–8,000 years ago in the Near East.
The earliest archeological evidence for a dominant position of wine-making in human culture dates from 8,000 years ago in Georgia.
Yeast, one of the earliest domesticated microorganisms, occurs naturally on the skins of grapes, leading to the innovation of alcoholic drinks such as wine. The earliest known production occurred around 8,000 years ago on the territory of Georgia. During an extensive gene-mapping project, archaeologists analyzed the heritage of more than 110 modern grape cultivars, and narrowed their origin to a region in Georgia, where wine residues were also discovered on the inner surfaces of 8,000-year-old ceramic storage jars. The oldest winery was found in Armenia, dating to around 4000 BC. By the 9th century AD the city of Shiraz was known to produce some of the finest wines in the Middle East. Thus it has been proposed that Syrah red wine is named after Shiraz, a city in Persia where the grape was used to make Shirazi wine. Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics record the cultivation of purple grapes, and history attests to the ancient Greeks, Phoenicians and Romans growing purple grapes for both eating and wine production. The growing of grapes would later spread to other regions in Europe, as well as North Africa, and eventually in North America.
In North America, native grapes belonging to various species of the Vitis genus proliferate in the wild across the continent, and were a part of the diet of many Native Americans, but were considered by European colonists to be unsuitable for wine. Vitis vinifera cultivars were imported for that purpose.
In most of Europe and North America, dried grapes are referred to as "raisins" or the local equivalent. In the UK, three different varieties are recognized, forcing the EU to use the term "Dried vine fruit" in official documents.
A raisin is any dried grape. While raisin is a French loanword, the word in French refers to the fresh fruit; grappe (from which the English grape is derived) refers to the bunch (as in une grappe de raisins).
Not long ago Travel and Leisure magazine’s Bruce Schoenfeld proclaimed Virginia one of five up-and-coming wine regions (along with areas of Chile, Italy, Spain and New Zealand) that “should be on the must-visit list of any adventurous wine traveler.” And in The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, a reviewer wrote that “Virginia is making Cabernet Franc and Viognier wines that are world-beaters,” citing a Saveur article in which wine critic Paul Luckas named two Virginia Viogniers among the best available.
Wines from the Commonwealth are winning national and international recognition for their elegant qualities. Virginia’s terroir – those special characteristics of the land that affect wine – helps vintners create wines stylistically between those of California and Europe that go particularly well with food. Chefs have noticed. An exclusive Chicago restaurant features a Virginia wine on its 10-course dining experience at $350 a plate.
A currant is a dried Zante Black Corinth grape, the name being a corruption of the French raisin de Corinthe (Corinth grape). Currant has also come to refer to the blackcurrant and redcurrant, two berries unrelated to grapes.
A sultana was originally a raisin made from Sultana grapes of Turkish origin (known as Thompson Seedless in the United States), but the word is now applied to raisins made from either white grapes or red grapes that are bleached to resemble the traditional sultana.