Wooler, Camera Club

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Life is wine

For Professor Jeremy Patterson, the speaker at Glendale Local History Society’s latest meeting, the solution to this quandary led him to research wine production in the ancient world.

He soon found himself immersed in an absorbing study of the commercial life of ancient Greek and Roman civilisations that became his life’s work.

In an informative and entertaining talk, entitled Life is Wine, Professor Patterson described how the cultivation of grape vines and olive trees started at about 6000 BC and was one of the first forms of agriculture.

He suggested that the production of wine and olive oil was an important factor in converting man from a nomadic existence to a more settled agrarian lifestyle.

This lifestyle led to the establishment of city states all around the Mediterranean. Trade routes were established as the Roman Empire expanded. Commerce often preceded conquest.

The wine was transported in amphorae, large pottery vessels and sold by weight.

Its quality was tested by inspectors and the trade regulated by a legal framework that would have been familiar to us. There are “how to do” manuals that have survived to this day.

Professor Patterson surprised his audience by revealing that he is one of only five people who have actually tasted ancient Roman wine. His verdict – a bit acidic, but not bad after 2,000 years of ageing.

The next meeting of Glendale Local History Society will be at 7.30pm, on Wednesday, January 13, in the Cheviot Centre, Wooler, when David Constantine will talk about animal bone discoveries from Anglo-Saxon times.