Wine and the Romans


posted by on Curiosities

Rome tour colosseum

The Colosseum, symbol of Rome. Photo by rickmartinez on Flickr

With its unique atmosphere, bustling ancient streets and incredible monuments, Rome is by far one of the most exciting and historically significant cities in the world. Many aspects of Western civilization that we see today can be attributed to the ancient Romans, such as governments, laws and transport networks. But one of the most lasting contributions that the Romans made to modern society, was the fine art of wine making.Ancient Roman civilization had a pivotal role in the history of winemaking, and many of the techniques that were used by the Romans are still used today in modern winemaking. Like today, characteristics of wine would depend on the local production area, the vine used and also the methods of cultivation.

The Romans also used to give flavour to their wine; while today we use oak barrels to achieve this effect, Romans would use herbs, spices or even honey to add extra flavour. Wine was available to all levels of society, and Romans also recognised that a certain type of ‘madness’ would occur after consuming excessive amounts of wine…!

However, there are also (fortunately!) many differences between the Romans’ wine making methods, and the methods modern Romans and Italians use today. For a start, the first part of the winemaking technique was to literally tread on the grapes.

For the ancient Romans, wine was not just a pleasant beverage; it was a daily necessity! Around the 2nd century BC, Rome was consuming over 180 million litres annually. That’s about a bottle a day for each citizen! In fact, after the Vesuvius eruption, a wine famine occurred, so many decided to uproot grain field in favour of grapevines.

The wine produced during this period was also very alcoholic, therefore it was often diluted, to ensure the continuous consumption did not have adverse (or embarrassing) effects! Warm water was often used for this process, and sometimes even sea water was added. And another major difference? Wine consumption by women was frowned upon; sometimes even prohibited completely. If a husband found out that his wife had consumed a drop of the grape, he was actually ‘allowed’ to kill her! Luckily, times have definitely changed since then!

So, why not take an exciting Rome tour, and explore the history of this eternal city in all its glory? Discover the amazing sights and find out more about Rome’s incredible past. Including an informative guided walk as well as a scenic tour of all the main monuments of Rome, this is the perfect way to see the Italian capital. Of course, there’s also a lunch stop, where you can sample the delights of the authentic food of Rome, as well as try a spot of Roman wine! Don’t worry though; the grapes used to make your wine won’t have been trodden on by ancient Roman feet!!


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