In Europe, credible evidence for alcoholic beverages, especially drinking vessels in funerary contexts, dates back to at least the Neolithic, although it is probable that forms of alcohol such as fermented honey (mead) may have existed even earlier (Dietler 1990, 1996; Sherratt 1991; Vencl 1994). Both grain beers and mead are attested during the Iron Age (first millennium b.c.e.) through historical texts, chemical residues, and the traces of a possible brewery in Germany (Arnold 1999, Dietler 1990, 1999, Stika 1996). Wine was also introduced to Early Bronze Age Greece in the third millennium b.c.e. and served as an elite beverage in Minoan and Mycenaean contexts (Hamilakis 1999; Wright 1995, 2004). It subsequently spread to Italy with Greek colonization during the eighth and seventh centuries b.c.e. Unlike its role in other societies, wine eventually replaced beer and other drinks altogether among Greeks (except Spartans), Etruscans, and Romans of all social classes (Murray 1990, Murray & Tecusan 1995, Tchernia 1986, Tchernia & Brun 1999). Meanwhile, Phoenician colonists carried the practice of making wine from the Levant to Carthage and their colonies in southern Spain during the eighth century b.c.e. (Greene 1995). By 700 b.c.e., native Iberian societies in Spain (where beer was the indigenous drink) began to make their own wine and to trade it in amphorae modeled after the Phoenician type (Gu´erin & G´omez Bellard 1999). France was the last region in the Mediterranean to begin consuming wine. The introduction of wine to this region was the result of an Etruscan wine trade that began in the late seventh century b.c.e. and the founding of the Greek colony of Massalia (modern Marseille) in approximately 600 b.c.e., which produced the first wine in France (Bertucchi 1992, Dietler 1990). By the second to first centuries b.c.e., the Mediterranean wine trade had expanded dramatically, such that an estimated 55–65 million amphorae of Roman wine were imported into France over a period of a century (Poux 2004, Tchernia 1986). By the second century c.e., France, now a Roman province, had become a major wine-producing region that was even exporting wine back to Rome (Amouretti & Brun 1993, Brun 2003).
Michael Dietler, “Alcohol: Anthropological/Archaeological Perspectives”, Annual Review of Anthropology, vol. 35 (2006), 233-234.