Wine Club Newsletter - January 2022
How Did Ancient Rome Wine Taste?
It's an understatement to say the Ancient Romans loved their wine. It's estimated that they drank 47 million gallons of wine each year -- one bottle per citizen each day (via CoolaBoo). The Ancient Romans drank it with all of their meals (yes, even breakfast).
According to Aveine, everyone in the Ancient Roman empire had access to it, including slaves. Simply put, it was a dietary staple, and it was ensured that wine, like food, was affordable to all. However, it wasn't always popular. That is, until the Ancient Greeks introduced it to Rome. Prior to this, wine was more readily consumed by the Greeks.
It then spread to the south of Italy, where most of the wine was eventually produced. In turn, Greek wine became a luxury and was more expensive to purchase. Per UNRV, as the Roman empire expanded, so did the number of vineyards.
Wine and grape production flourished, so much so that the Ancient Romans were farming more wine grapes than food. Thus, wine production was moved to different provinces (like France or Spain) and Italy became an import center.
We know they consumed something called wine, but what did this wine taste like? Similar to what people drink today? Actually, CBC describes Roman wine as unpalatable.
According to UNRV, wine production varied in Ancient Rome. Most commonly, the grapes were harvested, then stomped on by foot. CoolaBoo states that this would be done for hours by slaves in a large pot. This pot could be made from wood, terracotta, or iron, as well as other substances.
Whatever the material, it would affect the taste of the wine. Once this step was complete, the pot would be lined with beeswax and buried in the ground (via CBC) The top would be left open while fermenting and was later sealed with clay or resin. The result? The process gave the ancient wine a taste that Serious Eats compares to a "floor tile in a public restroom."
It's for this reason that the Ancient Romans would mix in seawater, honey, spices, and even chalk. This would alter the taste for the better and add what they believed to be a medicinal property.
More likely than not, they cut the wine with plenty of water. Besides improving flavor, it would also decrease the physical effects of the alcohol. And if someone did drink unmixed wine? They were believed to be barbaric (per Facts and Details). The Ancient Romans adored wine so much they had their own god for it, Bacchus -- not to be confused with the Greek god Dionysus (via Mythology).
$400,000 Bottle of Wine Stolen
A man and woman posing as a couple made off with an incredibly rare bottle of French wine that's 215 years old ... and valued at $407,000. That's not all though -- they also got away with at least 6 other bottles from the 19th century, which are worth a pretty penny too.
Here's what happened ... the guy and gal -- whom are reported to have been English speakers, and acted "refined" -- visited the Atrio restaurant/hotel in Caceres, Spain ... a Michelin-starred place famous for its top-notch wine collection that they keep in a cellar.
They checked in at some point last week, deciding to dine in the attached eatery -- and, at one point, asked the front desk hotel clerk to serve them more food ... who then ran back to the kitchen, leaving security cameras unmonitored. That's when they made their hit.
Cops say the guy went down to their cellar and smuggled out 7 bottles, including the high-priced 1806 Chateau d'Yquem ... a dessert wine from the Sauternes district of Bordeaux. They checked out early Wednesday ... paying with a credit card and leaving with a fat haul.
No word on how much exactly all 7 bottles are worth combined ... but it sounds like it might be well north of half a mill, at the very least. Folks there believe they were very much so professionals ... and pulling a heist on behalf of a wine collector of some sort.
Reason for the latter ... Atrio's owner says the $400k bottle is very well known on the market as their property, and it cannot be easily sold publicly without major flags being raised. So, either somebody wants it all for themselves, or is planning to sell it on the black market.
The good news, we suppose, is that all the stolen wine is insured -- but the crooks are on the loose and seem to have vanished without a trace. Local authorities are investigating.
Gary Parker, Owner
The WineSellar & Brasserie