Shedeh wine from Ancient Egypt

Shedeh was a highly appreciated kind of wine in Ancient Egypt. Jars of shedeh have been found in the tombs of nobility, including the one of Tutankhamun. Residual analyses from 2005 (1) suggest that is was made from red grapes, nothing special there, but there must have been some treatment that made it special. Unfortunately we don’t know much about that, the only clues being two very short texts. One is a fragmentary description of its preparation in the Papyrus Salt 825 (now in the British Museum):

“(…) repeat the filtration, heat again. This is the way to prepare the Shedeh that Ra gave to his sons”.

The other one is an inscription at the Dendera temple complex:

‘‘the beautiful work of Horus in the lab through the cooked extracts of Shesmou, the God of the press’’.

Therefore I am tempted to conclude that Shedeh was some preparation of concentrated wine, maybe reconstituted with young wine to make up for the evaporation of alcohol, but the lack of any details make its reconstruction futile.

Although it is just a wild and entirely unsubstantiated association, it does remind me of the ceremonial mix of new wine with boiled down wine from the previous year that was offered during the ancient Roman Meditrinalia wine festival in October. This mixed wine was said to be particularly beneficial for health, warding off diseases.

(1) Maria Rosa Guasch-Jané et. al., The origin of the ancient Egyptian drink Shedeh revealed using LC/MS/MS. Journal of Archaeological Science 33 (2006) 98-101.

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