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Types of Ancient Wines


Types of Ancient Wines

Some General Wines
Mustum A low quality grape juice, mixed with vinegar and drank fresh after pressing.
Mulsum 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.
Posca A sour vinegar like wine (acetum) mixed with water to reduce the bitterness and generally available to soldiers and lower classes.
Vinum Praeliganeum Manufactured from inferior and half-ripe fruit gathered before the regular harvest period. Perhaps also used in the production of ciders and similar drinks.
Vinum Dulce A sweet wholesome wine, made from dried grapes that were pressed in the heat of the day.
Vinum Diachytum 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 dulce.
Passum 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
Vinum Pramnian A Greek wine that was considered harsh, astringent and remarkably strong.
Chian Perhaps the most prized Greek wine, with the best variety coming from Ariusium.
Lesbian 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.
Setinum 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.
Caecuban 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.
Rhaetic 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.
Falernian 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%.
Alban 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.
Surrentine 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.
Massic Another product of Naples vines. It was considered a harsh wine.
Gauranian From the ridge above Baiae and Puteoli, produced in small quantity, but of very high quality, full bodied.
Calenian Hailing from Cales, Calenum was a large grape and its wine, according to Pliny, was better for the stomach than Falernian.
Fundanian 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.
Baeterrae 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 worthy imports.
Laletani Another wine of Hispania, that was famed not so much for quality, but for the massive quantity in which it was produced.
Mareoticum An Egyptian grape originating near Alexandria. It was said to be white, sweet, fragrant and light.
Chalybonium An eastern wine, whose finest product seems to have come from near Damascus, Syria.
Taenioticum 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.

Did you know?

Wine is mentioned as far back as 2750BC, but existence of wine goes further - now dated at 5400BC.


Wine - Related Topic: Roman Roads


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