Grapes, unsuspected lady of the Middle East

This post is also available in: Italiano

One of the fruits seen with greater suspicion in the Islamic world, at the same time, however, one of the few present in the Quran. The vine has always intertwined its history with that of the Middle East, immediately transforming it into one of the largest centers in the world for the production of grapes and wine.

The origins in the Near East

The vine has always intertwined its history with that of the Middle East, immediately transforming it into one of the largest centers in the world for the production of grapes and wine. Suffice it to say that in Georgia, remains of the latter were found dating back as far as 8’000 years ago, and that the first wine house in history was built in Areni, Armenia, more than 6’100 years ago. Other very large production centers were Palestine and Iran.

grapes

The latter was known in particular for its vine, the Syrah, originally from Shiraz, a city that for a long time held a place among the largest wine producers in the world, a record destroyed by the Iranian Revolution of “79. Another famous cultivar from the Middle East it is undoubtedly the one of the “sultanas”, the most cultivated in the world, a characteristic of this variety is in fact to be sweet but at the same time without seeds, which makes it ideal both for the table and for the wine production. Furthermore, it is precisely from the latter that raisins are produced, called in Italian, in fact, also “sultana”, as it was the most consumed on the tables of the Ottoman sultans.

Islam and grapes

The role of grapes in Islam has always been controversial, as any substance that alters the psychophysical faculties is considered to be haram, or rather prohibited. Wine and alcohol, not only are no exception, but are often taken as an “example of the forbidden” together with pork. This prevented the wineries from forming real bases in the Islamic world, prompting it to focus on other processes of the precious bunches.

grapes
Surat Al Mu’minun, vv.19

This aversion is in fact linked to alcohol and its effects, leaving the vine as a plant absolutely excluded. In the Quran it is celebrated as palms and olive trees, trees that have made the history of Mediterranean cuisine and beyond. A wonderful and absolutely Middle East fruit, too often hidden by the effects of its most famous product.

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