WTF Fun Fact 12704 – The World’s Oldest Wine

It turns out we’ve always loved fermenting grapes!

The evidence is an archaeological find around 20 miles away from Tbilisi, Georgia (the country!). Amidst low, mud-brick houses, there is a mound called Gadachrili Gora where Stone Age farmers lived around 8,000 years ago. Archaeologists found pottery decorated with grapes and a pollen analysis conducted on the surrounding hillsides found evidence that grape vines were grown there. (It turns out we’ve always liked to draw grapes on things as well!)

In a 2017 paper published in PNAS, called “Early Neolithic wine of Georgia in the South Caucasus,” an international team of archaeologists laid out the proof that the people who lived around Gadachrili Gora were likely the world’s earliest vintners. And while we could have guessed the area, it was hard to believe how early in human history people were producing, storing, and enjoying wine on a large scale – since 6000 BCE! We were still prehistoric and used stone and bone tools (hopefully not while drinking).

National Geographic explained the evidence and talked to the archaeologists involved in the dig (which began in the 1960s but was only finished up recently):

“When the samples were analyzed by University of Pennsylvania archaeologist Patrick McGovern, he found tartaric acid, a chemical “fingerprint” that shows wine residues were present in fragments of pottery from both sites.

Combined with the grape decorations on the outside of the jars, ample grape pollen in the site’s fine soil, and radiocarbon dates from 5,800 B.C. to 6,000 B.C., the chemical analysis indicates the people at Gadachrili Gora were the world’s earliest winemakers. (Tipplers at a Chinese site called Jiahu were making fermented beverages from a mixture of grains and wild fruit a thousand years earlier.)

Because they didn’t find many grape seeds or stems preserved in the village’s soil, archaeologists think the wine was made in the nearby hills, close to where the grapes were grown.

“They were pressing it in cooler environments, fermenting it, and then pouring it into smaller jugs and transporting it to the villages when it was ready to drink,” says University of Toronto archaeologist Stephen Batiuk, who co-directed the joint expedition alongside archaeologist Mindia Jalabdze of the Georgian National Museum.” WTF fun facts

Source: “Oldest Evidence of Winemaking Discovered at 8,000-Year-Old Village” — National Geographic

WTF Fun Fact 12568 – Georgia’s Fried Chicken Law

Gainesville, Georgia has gone to great lengths to establish itself as the “poultry capital of the world.” They’ll even “arrest” a 91-year-old woman for eating fried chicken with a fork instead of her fingers.

Ok, so the arrest was staged by a friend. Still, an ordinance in Gainsville says everyone must eat fried chicken, “a culinary delicacy sacred to this municipality, this county, this state, the Southland and this republic,” with their hands.

A little overstated, the ordinance is, of course, tongue-in-cheek. It was devised as a publicity stunt in 1961 in the hopes of getting enough attention that people would come to think of Gainsville as the fried chicken capital of the world. We’re not sure what the competition looks like for that title.

It turns out you really can be arrested for violating the ordinance, though no city in their right mind would spend taxpayer money taking it to court.

It did, however, make for a good birthday joke back in 2009. Ginny Dietrick was visiting from her home in Louisiana for her 91st birthday. While eating lunch at Longstreet Cafe, Gainesville Police Chief Frank Hooper strolled in and told Dietrick she was under arrest for eating her fried chicken with a fork.

We’re not sure surprising a 91-year-old that way is the best course of action, but her friend, Gainsville resident A.C. Marshall thought it was a great way to celebrate. Of course, it was all a practical joke, and Marshall set up her official pardon on the spot by inviting Gainesville Mayor Myrtle Figueras to the Longstreet Cafe.

You are required to come back to Gainesville often and are required to eat lots of Gainesville chicken,” Figueras told her.

Luckily, Dietrick got more out of it all than just a scare. According to the Gainsville Times, Abit Massey, president-emeritus of the Georgia Poultry Federation, ordained Dietrick an Honorary Georgia Poultry Princess. We’re not sure what other rights and honors come with the title.

This was Dietrick’s first poultry-related run-in with the law. She did recall getting some sort of parking ticket in the 1940s.

According to the Gainsville Times:

“Dietrick’s arrest citation ordered her not to get up from the table until she mastered the proper techniques for consuming this succulent delicacy, ‘down to and including the licking of the fingers upon the ingestion of the last available morsel.'”

Presumably, she had a good attitude about it. We’d like to see someone try to order us by law to eat a certain way. – WTF Fun Fact

Source: “Visitor arrested for eating chicken with fork” — Gainsville Times

WTF Fun Fact 12558 – The Horseback Doctor

Irakli Khvedaguridze sees some interesting injuries and ailments on his rounds: a local shepherd with crippling back pain, a hiker who took a tumble into a gorge, someone mauled by an animal. He doesn’t have the modern tools that city doctors have, and even if he did, he probably couldn’t bring them along since he travels on horseback to see his patients.

According to National Geographic, “Khvedaguridze, the only licensed doctor across nearly 386 square miles of mountainous land in this historic region in northeast Georgia, serves as a lifeline for the dwindling community of Tush people who remain in this remote area throughout the eight months of winter.”

His white horse, Bichola, can’t always walk through the snow in winter. And that’s when he makes the trek on foot, turning his shoes into skis using birchwood planks.

The small number of medical supplies the 80-year-old can carry is always accompanied by a hunting knife, matches, and two days’ worth of food. After all, you never know what might happen in the Caucasus mountains – it’s wild territory with very few people to help a doctor in need.

After graduating from the Medical Institute of Georgia (now called the Tbilisi State Medical University) in 1970, Khvedaguridze worked at an urban hospital. But after finding out the Tusheti mountain doctor left the area in 1979, Khvedaguridze decided someone needed to take his place. He’s from that area, so he felt the responsibility to return. After all, who else would take such a job? For decades he would do one-month rotations in the mountains a few times a year, but in 2009 he made the permanent move. His other option was to retire.

He described doctoring as a “mediation between God and the sick” to National Geographic.

“For me, there’s no night or day,” he said. “If they call me to help someone, no matter the circumstances, no matter the rain, snow, day or night, I have to go. Even if I’m as old as 90, should there be people who need me, I will go to help them. It’s my duty.” –  WTF fun fact

Source: “This doctor braves mountains by horseback and on foot to make house calls” — National Geographic