While the art of wine making reached the Hellenic peninsula by about 2000 BC, the first alcoholic beverage to obtain widespread popularity in what is now Greece was mead, a fermented beverage made from honey and water. However, by 1700 BC, wine making was commonplace. During the next thousand years wine drinking assumed the same function so commonly found around the world: It was incorporated into religious rituals. It became important in hospitality, used for medicinal purposes, and became an integral part of daily meals. As a beverage, it was drunk in many ways: warm and chilled, pure and mixed with water, plain and spiced. Alcohol, specifically wine, was considered so important to the Greeks that consumption was considered a defining characteristic of the Hellenic culture between their society and the rest of the world; those who did not drink were considered barbarians. Contemporary writers observed that the Greeks were among the most temperate of ancient peoples. This appears to result from their rules stressing moderate drinking, their praise of temperance, and their avoidance of excess in general. An exception to this ideal of moderation was the cult of Dionysus, in which intoxication was believed to bring people closer to their deity.