Thursday, February 16, 2006

White wine was Tutankhamen's afterlife tipple


IOL: "King Tutankhamen, the teenage king of ancient Egypt, headed into the afterlife with the help of a rather decent white wine, the British weekly New Scientist reports in next Saturday's issue.

University of Barcelona researchers in Spain used liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry to get the chemical 'fingerprint' of residues found in six wine jars found in Tut's tomb.

All six contained tartaric acid, which is characteristic of grapes, but only one contained syringic acid, which is only found in the skin of red grapes and gives red wine its colour.

Their conclusion is that the other five jars must have contained white wine - a surprise, given that until now the first evidence of white wine in Egypt dated from the third century AD, about 1 500 years after the young pharaoh died.

Red wine was often placed in tombs in ancient Egypt to give the dead a jolly send-off into the afterlife, but it now seems that white wine was on the menu as well."