The earliest evidence of wine in France suggests that it came from Italy, and that it was mixed with basil, thyme and other herbs, according to new research.
This early wine may have been used as medicine, and likely was imbibed by the wealthy and powerful before it become a popular beverage enjoyed by the masses, researchers said.
The artefacts found at Lattara, a port near Montpellier, suggest that winemaking took root in France as early as 500BC, and was introduced by the ancient Etruscans in what is now Italy.
The analysis published on Monday in the US journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is based on ancient wine containers and a limestone press brought by seafaring Etruscan travellers.
Researchers studied three containers, known as amphoras, taken from an archaeological site in Lattara where merchant quarters lay inside a walled settlement that dates to 525BC to 474BC.
Based on their shape, researchers are reasonably sure the amphoras were made in Cisra (modern Cerveteri) in central Italy. Using advanced chemical analysis, researchers found in the containers tartaric acid, the biomarker of Eurasian grape wine.