China's Fermented Past: Pottery yields signs of oldest known wine

10:49am, December 8, 2004

Here's a discovery worth toasting: Chemical analyses of pottery fragments from a prehistoric village in northern China indicate that people living there between 8,000 and 9,000 years ago concocted a fermented, winelike drink from rice, honey, and fruit.

That's the oldest known evidence of an intoxicating beverage, says archaeological chemist Patrick E. McGovern of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia. He led the international team that scrutinized the ancient pottery.

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