Researchers say they’ve discovered the very first instance of wine consumption in the Americas.
A recent study published in Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences traces the earliest known instance of alcohol consumption to the Caribbean islands, according to a Cranfield University press release. Some forty pieces of ceramic containers were recovered by researchers from Isla de Mona, a small island located between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
The study, led by university fellow Lisa Briggs and researchers at the University of Leicester, included an examination of a Spanish olive jar recovered during an archaeological trip. The group used molecular evidence to identify tartaric acid on the resin-lined ceramic container, which strongly suggests the presence of wine. The rounded container, dating from 1490 to 1520 AD, was commonly used by the Spanish to store and transport liquids such as olive oil or wine. Researchers say it could have been brought to the Isla de Mona by European colonists around the end of the 15th century.
“Whether consumed by Europeans or members of the indigenous population, this is direct evidence for the importation and drinking of European wine to a tiny island in the Caribbean shortly after the arrival of Spanish colonialists,” the study says.
The wine-stained olive jar was found among other artifacts related to Spanish-Catholic rituals, leading researchers to believe the wine was possibly used in religious ceremonies.