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Wine was a cornerstone of ancient Roman cuisine and most Romans (including children and slaves) drank it every single day.

In the past 2000 years, both grape cultivars and winemaking itself have evolved significantly. Is there a modern wine, commercially available today, that is intended to resemble ancient Roman wine as closely as possible?

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The Romans learned their love of wines from the Greeks. In fact Greek wine was highly praised by the Romans and incorporated viticulture into their own culture, thanks to the Greeks. The white Retsina or Resinated wine of the ancient Greeks is still produced in Greece and is locally very popular.

There are a few wineries in Europe, notable Italy that make a claim (loosely) of producing a truly Roman wine, but interpretation is still left to the reader.

First of all, there is the Cesanese Wine

Cesanese could have been the local wine of ancient Rome.

•It’s quite possible that Cesanese was the red wine of ancient Rome because the grape is quite old and existed in the region during pre-Roman times.

•However, there is no physical records to prove this, just ampelography (the study of grapes).

•Evidence of Cesanese dates back to the 1400s from agricultural contracts that were preserved in local monasteries.

•There are only about 1500 acres of Cesanese vineyards left around Rome and the province of Frosinone in Lazio, Italy.

A second possibility is Frascati Wine:

The Romans referred to it as the Golden Wine both for its color and its value. It has become embedded in the cultural and economic traditions of the city. In fact, in 1450, there were 1,022 taverns in Rome. Producers of Frascati owned almost all of the taverns. It has been said that Frascati is the most often mentioned wine in Italian literature. Pope Gregori XVI, in the first part of the 18th century, said it was his favorite wine.

The wines made in close proximity to Rome are collectively known as Castelli Romani, nine communes that produce wine in the Alban Hills, which are just south of Rome. The vineyards range from 200 to 1,000 feet in altitude. The Soils are well drained and volcanic. The Mediterranean provides some influence but the climate is more affected by the hills. Of these, Frascati is the most famous. It has historically had a widespread reputation as an inexpensive and serviceable white wine served in the cafés of Rome. The potential, however, is there to really improve the wines.

Mas des Tourelles offers some unique “Archeological Roman Wines”:

These wines are only available in France (and in few quantities in Germany). As many people contacted us to have informations on the way to buy and taste these wines in the US, you should know that it is hard to export wines without having a registered importer. It need also that this company can after deal with a reseller that can work with all the states.

Mulsum

Like testifying the passages of Pline the eldest, the blend of wine, honey and a certain number of plants ans spices (cinnamon, pepper, thyme ect...) are usedin making this famous wine, which was often served to the « gustatio » (before the meal as an aperitif).

However, it also accompanies filet of duck with figs, small quails with grapes and pine kernels, very spicy dishes, Roquefort or chocolate fondant. To serve at 14°.

Turriculae

Made exactly according to the writings of Lucius Columelle, it displays the tastes of the Romans as far as dry wine is concerned. The addition of seawater, fenugrec, defrutum (grape juice concentrated to boiling point) ect..., during the vinification makes an amazing and complex wine. Roman dishes, such as oysters ans smoked fish, are wonderful with our wines of recent years.

However, in the years of 2746 - 2747, you will be able to serve it with fried foie gras or cakes with nuts. To serve at 18°. « The fenugrec confers it to the particular « vin Jaune » taste and it has a detectable smell due to the notes of nuts and almonds. The taste of the Turriculae proves to be rich and supple with a round prune flavoured finish. (La Revue des Vins de France - Mai 1999)

Carenum

This sweet wine, described by Palladius, is produced by fermenting very mature grapes with plants, quince and defrutum. A delicately viscous and silky wine notes of quince and subtle aromas of crystallised peaches, it is a wonderful accompaniment with “foie gras” and fruit tarts.

To serve at 14°. « The wine is of an amber colour, and its smell hesitates between peach and caramel. These smoky and caramel notes are also present in its mellowt taste. It makes a very nice aperitif ». (La revue des Vins de France - Mai 1999)

To make things a little more interesting it could be noted that Italian Scientists have planted vineyards with the aim of making wine using techniques from classical Rome described by Virgil.

Archeologists in Italy have set about making red wine exactly as the ancient Romans did, to see what it tastes like.

At the group's vineyard, which should produce 70 litres at the first harvest, modern chemicals will be banned and vines will be planted using wooden Roman tools and will be fastened with canes and broom, as the Romans did.

Instead of fermenting in barrels, the wine will be placed in large terracotta pots – traditionally big enough to hold a man – which are buried to the neck in the ground, lined inside with beeswax to make them impermeable and left open during fermentation before being sealed shut with clay or resin.

  • What about Amarone and Vin Santo? Here I read that in Rome "the grapes were harvested late and, like many ancient wines, left to dry before being fermented to 15 or 16 percent alcohol—though the Romans cut their wines with water when drinking. The Vin Santo and Amarone we drink today are made much the same way." – Vincenzo Oliva Mar 31 '17 at 16:55
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    In any case, there a few more candidates: Caecubum Bianco, Abbuoto and Falanghina Bocca Bianca might be produced from the same grapes as was falernian wine, if these weren't destroyed (and we don't know); also, Falerno del Massico bianco and Falerno del Massico rosso are produced in the same area as falernian wine. Finally, Caecubum rosso is primarily made with uva serpe, a grape variety already mentioned by Columella (it was called Dracontion). – Vincenzo Oliva Mar 31 '17 at 17:09

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