LONDON -- King Tutankhamen was a red wine drinker, according to a researcher who analyzed traces of the vintage found in his tomb.
Maria Rosa Guasch-Jane told reporters yesterday at the British Museum that she made her discovery after inventing a process that gave archeologists a tool to discover the color of ancient wine.
''This is the first time someone has found an ancient red wine," she said.
Wine bottles from King Tut's time were labeled with the name of the product, the year of harvest, the source, and the vine grower, Guasch-Jane said, but did not include the color of the wine.
Several clues led scientists to believe the wine may have been red: drawings from the time of grapes being pressed into wine were red and purple, for example. But the color of King Tut's wine was impossible to verify until Guasch-Jane invented a process to detect a color compound, syringic acid, that is not found in white wine.
To test her method, she scraped residue from wine jars from the British Museum and the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
Patrick McGovern, an American molecular archeologist, said he has discovered grape residue in northern Iran that dates winemaking to 5400 BC.
Scientists believe the first wine discovered in Egypt, buried in King Scorpion's tomb in about 3125 BC, was produced in Jordan and transported 500 miles by donkey and boat to Egypt, he said. Eventually, grapevines were planted in Egypt.
Research shows that members of the Egyptian upper class drank wine regularly, but lower classes consumed it only during special occasions, Guasch-Jane said.