Wine - Etymology

Etymology

The English word "wine" comes from the Proto-Germanic *winam, an early borrowing from the Latin vinum, "wine" or "(grape) vine", itself derived from the Proto-Indo-European stem *win-o- (cf. Hittite: wiyana; Lycian: oino; Ancient Greek: οἶνος oinos; Aeolic Greek: ϝοῖνος woinos).

The earliest attested terms referring to wine are the Mycenaean Greek me-tu-wo ne-wo (μέθυος νέου), meaning "the month of new wine" or "festival of the new wine", and wo-no-wa-ti-si, meaning "wine garden", written in Linear B inscriptions.

Some scholars have noted the similarities between the words for wine in Kartvelian (e.g. Georgian ღვინო ), Indo-European languages (e.g. Russian вино ), and Semitic (*wayn), pointing to the possibility of a common origin of the word denoting "wine" in these language families. Some scholars have argued that Georgian was the origin of this word and that it entered into the Indo-European languages via Semitic. The proponents of this view have argued that in Kartvelian languages the semantic connection of the word "wine" (ღვინო - ghvino, ღვინი - ghvini, ღვინალ - ghvinal) is traced to the verb "ghvivili" (ღვივილი, to bloom, to arouse, to boil, to ferment) and the root of "ghv" (ღვ), which is a common semantic root for many common Kartvelian words (e.g. "gaghvidzeba", გაღვიძება - to awaken, "ghvidzli" - ღვიძლი - liver).

Wines from other fruits, such as apples and berries, are usually named after the fruit from which they are produced combined with the word "wine" (for example, apple wine and elderberry wine) and are generically called fruit wine or country wine (not to be confused with the French term vin de pays). Besides the grape varieties traditionally used for winemaking, most fruits naturally lack either a high amount of fermentable sugars, relatively low acidity, yeast nutrients needed to promote or maintain fermentation or a combination of these three characteristics. This is probably one of the main reasons why wine derived from grapes has historically been more prevalent by far than other types and why specific types of fruit wine have generally been confined to regions in which the fruits were native or introduced for other reasons.

Other wines, such as barley wine and rice wine (e.g. sake), are made from starch-based materials and resemble beer more than wine, while ginger wine is fortified with brandy. In these latter cases, the term "wine" refers to the similarity in alcohol content rather than to the production process. The commercial use of the English word "wine" (and its equivalent in other languages) is protected by law in many jurisdictions.

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