The Romans understood the land and were very careful with the place where they planted the vines. Before the Romans, the Etruscans lived in what is now called Italy and made wine from wild grapes. It seems that there was an abundance of them in the Mediterranean area.
Roman wine production was strongly influenced by both the Etruscans and the ancient Greeks.
After harvesting the grapes, people would trample on them. This might not have been hygienic, but it was the best way the Romans knew how to press wine. After trampling, the wine was transported to be pressed in a torculum or wine press. The grape juice was strained to get rid of grape skins and seeds.
The next stage in the production process was to transfer the liquid to the huge jars or amphoras where it could ferment. Sometimes these containers were buried in sand, earth, or water. Sometimes these juices are boiled before storing them in these containers.
If the end result were to produce a high quality aged wine, the wine would remain in the containers for between 10 and 25 years.
However, the wine was generally left for 9 days to a couple of months. This was roman plonk!
Pliny the Elder wrote about the Roman way of producing wine and growing vines in his work, ‘Historia Naturalis’ translated as Natural History. He wrote that Italian wine was the best in the world, or at least in the known world.
However, the Romans and their compatriots cornered the wine market, rejecting other competitors from other countries outside of what is now called Italy. Therefore, other countries such as France, Spain and Portugal were not officially allowed to produce wine.
According to Pliny, in the middle of the 2nd century BC. C., wine was an important product. However, as the Roman Empire grew, the export value of wine would decrease as grapes were cultivated in other parts of the empire, especially in what is now France and the Iberian Peninsula.
The Romans drank wine at any time of the day and night, but it was diluted with water, as it was stronger than today’s wines.
The Roman wine industry fell into decline along with the empire. Wine production continued, but fell out of favor until the Renaissance, when there was a revival of interest in classical culture.
So wine in the Roman Empire had its ups and downs, but fortunately, the art of winemaking survived.
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