Types of Ancient Wines
|Some General Wines
||A low quality grape juice, mixed with vinegar and drank fresh
||A common class wine, generally sweetened with honey and served to Plebes
and the lower classes at public events.
|Lora (Vinum Operarium)
||A bitter wine made from the grape skin husks, seeds and any other product
left over from the pressing process. Fermented by soaking in water, it was
generally served to slaves, though some lower classes, and even soldiers
may have had access to wines that were hardly any better. Varro, however
claimed that it was the drink of old women. Today these excess grape products
are used in distilling the liquor Grappa.
||A sour vinegar like wine (acetum) mixed with water to reduce the bitterness
and generally available to soldiers and lower classes.
||Manufactured from inferior and half-ripe fruit gathered before the regular
harvest period. Perhaps also used in the production of ciders and similar
||A sweet wholesome wine, made from dried grapes that were pressed in the
heat of the day.
||Similar to vinum dulce but grapes were allowed to dry in the sun for longer
periods of time. The wine was described as more 'luscious' than the vinum
||Raisin wine. Obviously made from nearly completely dried grapes. It's
most prized variety was imported from Crete.
|Vinum Marrubii, Scillites, Absinthiates, Myrtites
||Example of wines used for medicinal purposes. Marrubii for coughs, Scillites
for digestion and as a tonic, Absinthiates roughly corresponding to modern
Vermouth and Myrtites as a general medicine aiding many ailments.
|Some Specific Wines
||A Greek wine that was considered harsh, astringent and remarkably strong.
||Perhaps the most prized Greek wine, with the best variety coming from
||A Greek wine hailing from the island of Lesbos, and Mytilene in particular.
It was considered light, wholesome and had natural taste of salt water.
||An strong, sweet Italian wine of Latium considered perhaps the best of
wines. It was the favored wine of Augustus hailing from the hills of Setia.
However, Setinum seems to have fallen into disfavor and became nearly extinct
due to miscultivation and the canal of Nero that was dug out directly in
this grapes natural habitat.
||Another sweet wine of Latium. Before the imperial period, this seems to
have been the most prized grape variety. This grape too, seems to have suffered
under Nero's canal.
||A sweet wine made from grapes grown in the Alps, especially prized from
near Verona, Italy. Suetonius claims that this wine, and not Setinum was
actually the favorite of Augustus.
||A highly prized wine, available mainly to the upper classes. It was made
from the Aminean grape originating near Naples, but transfered to Mt. Falernus
between Latium and Campania. These vines grew best around elm trees. It
produced a full-bodied drink that was best when aged between 10 and 20 years,
and had a near yeast killing alcohol content of up to 16%.
||A preferred wine among the upper classes, it provided several varieties
of flavors including very sweet, sweetish, rough, and sharp. It was considered
perfect if kept for 15 years.
||Hailing from the bay of Naples, this mid class wine was considered lacking
in richness and very dry. It was best when kept between 5 and 20 years.
The Emperor Tiberius referred to it as nothing more than generous vinegar.
His successor Caligula called it nobilis vappa, indicated it being known
as worthless. Of course, these men had tastes for higher qualities, so their
reaction can be understood.
||Another product of Naples vines. It was considered a harsh wine.
||From the ridge above Baiae and Puteoli, produced in small quantity, but
of very high quality, full bodied.
||Hailing from Cales, Calenum was a large grape and its wine, according
to Pliny, was better for the stomach than Falernian.
||Again, Pliny suggests that this wine was full bodied and nourishing, but
apt to attack both stomach and head; therefore little sought after at banquets.
|Mamertine or Messanic
||This wine hailed from Sicily and was made fashionable by Julius Caesar. He served it often as his various public
events and triumphs. The finest of this type was called Potalanum.
||A Gallic (or later French) wine that was considered acceptable
to the Romans. It's grape was cultivated in the south, or Narbonensis.
|Balearic, Tarraco and :Lauron
||3 wines of Hispania (and the Balearic isles, obviously) that were considered
||Another wine of Hispania, that was famed not so much for quality, but
for the massive quantity in which it was produced.
||An Egyptian grape originating near Alexandria. It was said to be white,
sweet, fragrant and light.
||An eastern wine, whose finest product seems to have come from near Damascus,
|| Named from a long narrow sandy ridge near the western extremity of the
Nile Delta. It was aromatic, slightly astringent, and of an oily consistency,
which disappeared when it was mixed with water.