Lebanese wines have been produced in the Bekaa Valley for 6,000 years and Lebanon has evolved into a significant wine-making region in modern days! Despite ongoing conflicts in the region, Lebanon produces of about 600,000 cases of wine annually.
Wines of ancient and modern times
Evidence from Rome shows that 2,000 years before Alexander the Great, the Phoenicians, the ancestors of the Lebanese, cultivated and domesticated the vine and produced wine. Wines from Lebanon were exported to Egypt around 2,500 BC and also introduced to Greece and Italy.
From intact cargoes of wine discovered on sunken Phoenician ships, the wines appears to have been protected from oxidation by a layer of olive oil, followed by a seal of pinewood and resin.Wine played an important part in many of the religions of the day, including the Phoenician, Greek, Roman, Jewish and Christian religions.
The Christian Bible makes mention of wines from the region, and Cana, where Christ attended a wedding and turned water into wine, is near the southern Lebanese port of Tyre. Baalbek was originally devoted to the Phoenician fertility god Baal but is also home to the remains of a temple dedicated to the Roman god of wine, Bacchus.
Lebanese wine production declined in modern times after Lebanon became part of the Caliphate, however due to community laws it was allowed among Christians for religious reasons. The Christians also developed an aniseed flavoured spirit reminiscent of Ouzo, called Arack.