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Chateau Jiahu: Patrick McGovern on the World's First Alcoholic Beverage Made from Grapes

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Published on Aug 15, 2011

China lays claim to inventing the oldest known alcoholic beverage in the world.

Patrick McGovern, scientific director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, discusses the ancient fermented beverage affectionately nicknamed "Chateau Jiahu," found at a neolithic site on the Yellow River in China. There, pottery dating to around 7,000 B.C. -- at the very beginning of pottery-making in the Middle East -- was found whose pores contain traces of a fermented beverage made from rice combined with honey and fruit, likely grapes or hawthorn fruit. It's the earliest known use of grapes in an alcoholic beverage.

He also discusses the recreation of the ancient drink newly created in conjunction with Dogfish Head Brewery, created using grapes, hawthorn berry, honey, barley malt, and rice.

Excerpt from a lecture presented at the Getty Villa on June 4 and 5, 2011.

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