No one knows for certain where or how the very first vat of wine came into being. However, archaeologists have dated evidence of winemaking in Persia back at least as far as 5000 BC. It is worth mentioning also that the ancient Persian Kings traded wine like a form of currency.
According to one ancient tale, the legendary Persian King Jamshid became displeased with one especially spoiled princess from his vast harem. Not wanting her bad attitude to spread and corrupt the rest of his court, King Jamshid banished the princess from the opulence and ease of her harem life and sent her instead to live in the kitchens to act as a mere servant to his house. In the kitchens, the spoiled princess soon learned about hard work. She became so upset and depressed over her fall from luxury into endless days of aching toil that she made up her mind to take her own life.
Fortunately, the means to do so were not left lying about in the royal kitchens. Improvising, the princess allowed some grapes to rot in a jar thinking that the mess would soon become a vile poison. It took a while, but eventually she was certain the poison was potent enough to end it all.
The princess took a sip, then another sip. Instead of killing her, the fermented grapes in the jar eased her aches and lifted spirits out of despair. Excited, and perhaps a drunk, she took her new discovery straight to King Jamshid, who of course was so delighted that he restored the princess to his harem immediately. He also decreed that hence forth, every grape grown would be crushed into wine.
Perhaps this was how Shirazi wine was born. Shirazi wine, (not to be confused with today’s Shiraz, as there is no commonality except for the similar name,) was the now defunct wine that was once produced near the city of Shiraz in Persia. Around the 9th century AD, the city was celebrated as Persia’s wine capitol, and was world-renown for producing some of the finest wines in the known world.
According to European travelers to the city in the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, wine grown close was more dilute in character due to the city’s new irrigation systems. At that time the very best Shirazi wines were grown in terraced vineyards at the nearby town of Khouliar. At the age of five years, these white wines were compared in taste to aged sherry with a nutty flavor and fine bouquet. Marco Polo mentioned Shirazi wine and described vines trained by a system of pulleys and weights to grow up one wall of a house over the roof and down again. Perhaps the best record of Shirazi wine appears in the multitude of wine-lauding quatrains in the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.
In contemporary times, no wine is produced in Iran for religious reasons. The vineyards now are once again producing table grapes and raisins as they surely were doing before King Jamshid’s decree.
About the Author
Jonathan Keys, a writer and wine connoisseur, believes that each special meal is worth celebrating with a unique wine. He always loves dining and listening to the warm conversation between diners. He always suggest to try a Taylors wines shiraz with each sumptuous meal.