The literature on wine and viticulture is at least as varied and extensive as the wines of this world. Already in the Old Testament of the Bible but also in older works wine is a central theme and is often mentioned. Viticulture and wine culture on a professional level already existed at least 6,000 to maybe even 8,000 years ago in antiquity. The origin of the cultivated grapevine or viticulture lies in the Mesopotamian Mesopotamia, in Transcaucasia (Georgia) or, according to the latest findings, in south-east Anatolia in Turkey. Wine was already being written about at that time, but this cannot yet be called wine literature. The first witness of Greek wine culture is Homer, who in his works Iliad and Odyssey around 730 B.C. reported in poetic form about viticulture and wine enjoyment.
Many other ancient authors wrote about the subject from an agricultural or historical point of view. These included Hesiod (~750-680 BC), Anacreon (~580-495 BC), Socrates (470-399 BC), Xenophon (430-354 BC), Aristophanes (450-380 BC), Aristotle (384-322 BC) and Strabo (63 BC-28 AD). The physicians Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.) and Galen (129-216) were intensively concerned with the health aspect of wine enjoyment. The Carthaginian Mago, who came from a completely different cultural background and lived around 400 BC, wrote extensively about the winegrowing practices of the Phoenicians. Although his works are no longer preserved, he is often quoted by later, especially Roman authors.
The first high point of technical literature in Roman antiquity was reached in the 1st century A.D. with numerous publications on agriculture and agriculture with viticulture. However, only a few of these have survived and only fragments of them are still available in the form of copies or reprints. Some Roman authors can already be called experts, the most important are Cato the Elder (234-149 BC), Varro (116-27 BC), Vergil (70-19 BC), Columella (1st century AD), Pliny the Elder (23-79) and Palladius (4th century AD). And also the poets Horace (65-8 B.C.), Ovid (43 B.C. to 8 A.D.) and Seneca (1-65) paid homage to wine in the form of poetry, essay, poem or satire. The well-known work Satyricon contains revealing information about the eating and drinking culture of the Roman upper class in the 1st century AD.
After the fall of the Roman Empire and the subsequent turmoil of the migration of nations, there was also a decline in viticulture and thus also in literature about it. It was not until the High Middle Ages, beginning around 900 AD, that viticulture and related literature regained importance due to the special achievements of the monastic orders of the Benedictines and later Cistercians. The agricultural compilation Geoponika, written in the 10th century, draws on some of the ancient wine authors of the Greeks and Romans mentioned above. Among the most famous wine authors of the late Middle Ages until the beginning of the modern age are Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), Petrus de Crescentiis (1230-1320), Arnaldus de Villanova (1240-1311) and Johann Rasch (1540-1612) with his "Wine Book: Von Baw, Pfleg und Brauch des Weins".
From the beginning of the 17th century onwards, many authors dealt with the subject in an already scientific quality. The natural scientist Philipp Jakob Sachs von Löwenheim (1627-1672) founded the oldest medical and scientific journal in the world in Breslau in 1670. In his treatise on the vine he founded the term ampelography. Balthasar Sprenger's (1724-1791) theoretical considerations about viticulture and winemaking are already scientifically founded and backed up by practical experiments. His three-volume, 2,300-page book on viticulture with viticultural techniques and characterization of grape varieties, in which he also deals with the explanations of ancient authors, is considered a standard work.
From this time on, a diversification or specialisation in wine literature began to an increasing extent. For the first time, in addition to the classic topics of vineyard care, grape variety studies and winemaking or cellar techniques, special topics such as tasting and qualitative assessment of wines(wine evaluation) with the corresponding vocabulary(wine address) or "which wine to which meal" as well as publications on wine-growing regions and their wines(wine guides) were covered. In this context, the writing guild of wine critics also emerged and became increasingly important.
Many famous people have made statements about wine, of which countless examples are given under the heading of quotations. In biographies, the drinking culture or drinking habits of prominent people are also often mentioned and their alcoholic preferences or favourite wines mentioned. In the following list, about 200 authors, journalists, publicists and wine critics are listed alphabetically from antiquity to modern times. Either they have published treatises on the subject of wine and viticulture that are worthy of mention in some form or they have simply "only" - like the first mentioned Alcueus with "In vino veritas" - made a significant statement about wine. The list can also be understood as a "Who is Who" of wine literature. Some of them are members of Weinfeder e.V. an association of German-speaking wine journalists:
As a valuable and rich source for the biographies of numerous personalities contained in this wine encyclopaedia, the documentation "Persönlichkeiten der Weinkultur - Kurzbiographien aus 16 Jahrhunderten" (Schriften zur Weingeschichte Nr. 140, Wiesbaden 2002) by Paul Claus and colleagues was used with the kind permission of the Gesellschaft für Geschichte des Weines e.V. (Society for the History of Wine). On the website of this society, the bibliography on the history and culture of wine is made available free of charge, with around 30,000 recorded works on wine. See also other winegrowing personalities under wine guides and wine critics.
The encyclopaedia, including pictures and graphics, comprises about 6,000 A4 pages, which is approximately the size and also the content of these wine books. These were also used as sources (see also Wine lexicon).