Ciudad Real, may 07-09 2019

Ciudad Real, may 07-09 2019






The round table "Wine and Public Health Over Time" has put on display evolution of the social value of wines in Ancient Egypt, in the Middle Ages and in current times

09.05.2007 | 

A trip through History to evidence the important weight that wine has had in the evolution of culture, medicine, ethics and religion itself, according to what the participants of the round table "Wine and Public Health Over Time" have heard. It has been precisely Benito del Castillo García, Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy at the Complutense University of Madrid, who has recognized that social sciences and medical sciences have ended up coming together in the analysis of wine's role in the daily life of different civilizations.

Rosa M. Lamuela-Raventós, Full Professor of the Bromatology Department of the University of Barcelona, has been the first to intervene. She has formed part of the scientific team that identified the remains of wine found in some of Tutankhamen's funerary trousseau amphoras. Thanks to the team's investigations it has been possible to know that the normal labeling we now use for wine already existed in Ancient Egypt. Thus information such as the origin of the grapes, quality or the name of the wine producer appear in the inscriptions that identify each amphora.

Also, analysis made by her team of the remains that were found not only confirm the presence of red wine, but also of white wine, with the latter on top of this being considered of great quality. In fact, and according to the strategic positions that the investigated amphoras occupied in the funerary chamber, it is quite clear that wine was considered an essential object that had to be taken to the second life that the Egyptians expected and also to uphold good living in the first life.


The Professor also detailed the sophistication of the systems that were used in Ancient Egypt, not only for cultivation, but also for harvesting and wine production. In fact irrigation of the vines, under vine lee methods to favor air circulation, ventilation of the amphoras that contained the wine or stomping on the grapes were all habitual practices.

On his part Antoni Riera i Melis, Professor Emeritus and Director of the Medieval History Department of the Faculty of Geography at the University of Barcelona and Member of the Catalan Society of Historical Studies, summarized the tremendous amount of information that exists about uses of wine throughout the Middle Ages.

In this sense he emphasized the existence of two great "sides" with confronted opinions on how wine was to be consumed: the moralists and the physicians. In this manner, while the first believed that the "blood of Christ" produced euphoria, raising the libido and restricted its use to the Eucharist, the second drafted numerous treaties about the benefits of consuming wine in moderation.


Thus, wine was considered the most recommendable beverage for regiments, along with bread. Some even considered that it should be man's first nutrient , along with meat juices or raw eggs, that is, as long as no other food was available.

As a curiosity, different treaties recommend its consumption on the battlefield to mitigate the extraordinary effort that the soldiers had to endure and to increase their virility, and even Avicena's 'Canon Medicinae´ encouraged men to get drunk at least once a month "to eliminate all that is superfluous from the body". A theory that was highly discussed by all sorts of legendary figures, from Maimónides the Jewish Physician right through to Christian doctors.

Finally, Juan Antonio Zafra Mezcúa, Head of the Preventative Medicine Service at the Hospital de Puerto Real and Full Professor of Preventative Medicine and Public Health Department at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Cadiz focused his intervention on marking the limit of risk in the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Thus in this manner he put special emphasis on the very relevant metabolic differences that exist between men and women with regards to alcohol absorption, which is up to ten times less in the case of women.

At any rate, Professor Zafra did not doubt in affirming that from a Public Health perspective, the message is crystal clear: "There is no scientific evidence to establish safety limits in the consumption of alcohol, and particularly amongst children and teenagers, the most vulnerable groups".