i'll have the same as caesar
January 21, 2008 5:18 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible to find wines similar in style to what the ancient Romans would have been drinking? Or were their vinification methods so crude that no one bothers trying?
posted by steinwald to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If something I heard on BBC Radio 4 last month is to believed, the Romans were rather fond of putting lead in their wine; apparently (aside from being poisonous) it is sweet and a flavour enhancer. If that is really the case it is unlikely that you'll get to try any. Not a matter of crude winemaking methods, just a lack of understanding of biochemistry.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 5:29 PM on January 21, 2008

I bet this is true. Even in the late 1800, they were making pacifiers out of lead, because children enjoyed the sweetness.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:47 PM on January 21, 2008

If you want to drink wine like the Romans, I'd say your best bet is to find a couple of nymph/adonis type characters, have one feed you grapes, one cool you with a peacock feather fan, and one pour wine into your mouth from a goatskin. Bonus points if you get it all over your toga and end up sleeping with all of them.

As for wine quality, a goon bag would probably do the trick. Sangiovese and chianti are both Italian wine grapes, so they could be worth a shot as well.
posted by twirlypen at 6:05 PM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Terry Jones made a wonderful BBC special about everyday life in Ancient Rome, and there was a section where a historian made him a meal and talked about wine - I remember she told him that the closest wine was a sweet, dessert-y, port-ish wine (but I don't remember why). Anyhow, you can find it on google video (which isn't working for me at the moment).
posted by moxiedoll at 6:14 PM on January 21, 2008

Keep in mind that generally, well-heeled Romans watered-down their wine. Two parts water to one part wine, in fact. So, nothing you're likely to want to drink these days is going to be in the Roman mode. Haven't seen anything purporting to be Roman, but from descriptions of Falernian, I wonder if a Madeira might not be comparable. Straw wines are made today, in a method similar to that of passum, which was originally Carthaginian but beloved in Rome.
posted by mumkin at 6:26 PM on January 21, 2008

When I was in culinary school a couple of years ago, I read an article in one of the wine mags about how someone was recultivating the vinyards destroyed by Vesuvius...but I'm totally stoned on cold medication right now and my google fu is only finding the modern vineyards that are in the region. It was a really interesting article about how they discovered the original layout and varietals by soil samples and some sort of ultrasound or something similar...hope someone can help you!

Tho as a bit of trivia...most of the vines in Europe succumbed to a bug Phylloxera and the European vines are grafted onto American rootstock...so its probably not going to be "exactly" what the ancients drank. Actually, Washington State, Oregon, and South America actually tend to have the original old growth vines...but of course the soil's different...ok I'll stop geeking now :)
posted by legotech at 8:08 PM on January 21, 2008

sangiovese is an italian wine grape, but chianti is not. chianti is a docg (denominazione di origine controllata i garantita) which, under the italian rules, is made principally from sangiovese, with canaiolo and trebbiano blended in.
posted by bruce at 8:46 PM on January 21, 2008

The Romans used lead acetate in food as a sweetener. They made it using wine and lead pots.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 9:15 PM on January 21, 2008

I would guess retsina would be the place to start (watered, as mentioned above). The Romans nicked it from the Greeks, who drink it to this day.
posted by pompomtom at 2:42 AM on January 22, 2008

And to eat my I suggest for Sir the stuffed dormice served with lashings of garum. Bon appetit!
posted by oxford blue at 6:25 AM on January 22, 2008

« Older are buses really safe without seatbelts?   |   How to send the "Windows Key" over VNC from from... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.