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Ties with French producers are especially strong, and Ningxia wines have received international recognition. It was an extreme fermented beverage made of wild grapes (the earliest attested use), hawthorn, rice, and honey.” And, Professor Mc Govern continues: “The Jiahu discovery illustrates how you should never give up hope in finding chemical evidence for a fermented beverage from the Palaeolithic period. You might think, as I did too, that the grape wines of Hajji Firuz, the Caucasus, and eastern Anatolia would prove to be the earliest alcoholic beverages in the world, coming from the so-called “Cradle of Civilization” in the Near East as they do.The history of Chinese grape wine has been confirmed and proven to date back 9,000 years (7000 BC), including the "earliest attested use" of wild grapes in wine as well as "earliest chemically confirmed alcoholic beverage in the world", according to Adjunct Professor of Anthropology Patrick Mc Govern, the Scientific Director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Project for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages, and Health at the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia. But then I was invited to go to China on the other side of Asia, and came back with samples that proved to be even earlier–from around 7000 BC.” Recently, additional research has shown that China was the earliest to produce of "grape wine", as well as rice wine and "beer", because according to Castro-Sowinski: “There is also evidence for various types of alcoholic beverage production, including rice and grape wine, beer, and various liquors including baijiu in China, ca. C.” Research by Hames has shown that: “The earliest wine, or fermented liquor, came from China, predating Middle Eastern alcohol by a few thousand years.Wine thus remained an exotic product known by few people.Not until the Tang dynasty (618–907) did the consumption of grape wines become more common.In the 130s and 120s BC, a Chinese imperial envoy of the Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) named Zhang Qian opened diplomatic relations with several Central Asian kingdoms, some of which produced grape wine.By the end of the second century BC, Han envoys had brought grape seeds from the wine-loving kingdom of Dayuan (Ferghana in modern Uzbekistan) back to China and had them planted on imperial lands near the capital Chang'an (near modern-day Xi'an in Shaanxi province).After the Tang conquest of Gaochang – an oasis state on the Silk Road located near Turfan in modern Xinjiang – in 641, the Chinese obtained the seeds of an elongated grape called "mare teat" (maru Several Tang poets versified on grape wine, celebrating wine from the "Western Regions" – that from Liangzhou was particularly noted – or from Taiyuan in Shanxi, the latter of which produced wine made from the "mare teat" grape.
Other companies, including China Great Wall Wine Co., Ltd, Suntime and Changyu, have also risen in prominence, and by 2005, 90% of grape wine produced was consumed locally.Quite recently, Chinese grape wine has begun appearing on shelves in California and in Western Canada.While some critics have treated these wines with the same type of disregard with which Chilean and Australian wines were once treated, others have recognized a new frontier with the potential to yield some interesting finds.The total production of wine in 2004 was 370 thousand tons, a 15% increase from the previous year.Notable wine-producing regions include Beijing, Yantai, Zhangjiakou in Hebei, Yibin in Sichuan, Tonghua in Jilin, Taiyuan in Shanxi, and Ningxia.