NPR

We Drink Basically The Same Wine As Ancient Romans — And That's Not So Great

Many of today's most popular wine varieties are extremely genetically similar to wines that may have existed for thousands of years, a new study finds. In the face of climate change, that's risky.

With wine, older usually means better. "Vintage," our word for "classily aged," comes from the winemaking process. Wines from decades ago fetch far higher prices than freshly made ones. Wine itself is woven throughout ancient history, from ancient Judeo-Christian rites (hello, Last Supper!) to Egyptian ceremonies to Roman orgies. And the grape varieties we like tend to have lengthy pasts: For instance, chardonnay grapes from France's Champagne region have been made into white wine since the Middle Ages.

But until now, nobody knew just how in published Monday, many of the most popular wine varieties sold today are extremely genetically similar to the wines that ancient Romans drank — and may have existed for thousands of years longer.

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