Mons Aventinus - The Aventine Hill


"Ah me, so wine lives longer than miserable man. So let us be merry. Wine is life."

(Petronius, Satyricon 34)

Types of Ancient Wines Available to the Romans[]

Wine Name Region Wine Class Description
Absinthiates Italy 4th Example of wines used for medicinal purposes. Absinthiates roughly corresponds to modern Vermouth.
Albanum Italy 3rd A preferred wine among the upper classes, it provided several varieties of flavors including very sweet, sweetish, rough, and sharp. It was considered perfect if kept for 15 years.
Amineum Italy 4th It was of Grecian origin, having been conveyed by a Thessalian tribe to Italy (a story which would seem to refer to some Pelasgian migration), and reared chiefly in Campania around Naples, and in the Falernus ager. Its characteristic existence was the great body and consequent durability of its wine
Babylonium Syria 4th A wine with great similarities to Chalybonium, originally from Beroea, but afterwards grown in the neighbourhood of Damascus also, was the chosen and only drink of the Great King, called nectar by Chaereus and the Βύβλινος from Phoenicia. It is spoken of elsewhere as Thracian, or Grecian, or Sicilian, which may have arisen from the same grape having been disseminated through these countries.
Baeterrae France 4th A Gallic (or later French) wine that was considered acceptable to the Romans. It's grape was cultivated in the south, or Narbonensis.
Balearic Spain 4th A wine of the Balearic isles (Hispania) that was considered a worthy import.
Caecuban Italy 1st Another sweet wine of Latium. Before the imperial period, this seems to have been the most prized grape variety. This grape too, seems to have suffered under Nero's canal.
Calenum Italy 3rd Hailing from Cales, Calenum was a large grape and its wine, according to Pliny, was better for the stomach than Falernian.
Chalybonium Syria 4th An eastern wine, whose finest product seems to have come from near Damascus, Syria.
Chian Greek 4th Perhaps the most prized Greek wine, with the best variety coming from Ariusium.
Falernian Italy 2nd A highly prized wine, available mainly to the upper classes. It was made from the Aminean grape originating near Naples, but transfered to Mt. Falernus between Latium and Campania. These vines grew best around elm trees. It produced a full-bodied drink that was best when aged between 10 and 20 years, and had a near yeast killing alcohol content of up to 16%.
Formianum Italy 3rd From the gulf of Caieta and associated by Horace with the Caecuban, Falernian, and Calenian.
Fundanum Italy 3rd Again, Pliny suggests that this wine was full bodied and nourishing, but apt to attack both stomach and head; therefore little sought after at banquets.
Gauranum Italy 3rd From the ridge above Baiae and Puteoli, produced in small quantity, but of very high quality, full bodied.
Lauro Spain 4th A wine of Hispania that was considered a worthy import.
Laeetani Spain 4th Another wine of Hispania, that was famed not so much for quality, but for the massive quantity in which it was produced.
Lesbian Greek 4th A Greek wine hailing from the island of Lesbos, and Mytilene in particular. It was considered light, wholesome and had natural taste of salt water.
Lora Italy 4th A bitter wine made from the grape skin husks, seeds and any other product left over from the pressing process. Fermented by soaking in water, it was generally served to slaves, though some lower classes, and even soldiers may have had access to wines that were hardly any better. Varro, however claimed that it was the drink of old women. Today these excess grape products are used in distilling the liquor Grappa.
Mamertine Sicily 4th This wine, also called Messanic, hailed from Sicily and was made fashionable by Julius Caesar. He served it often as his various public events and triumphs. The finest of this type was called Potalanum.
Mareoticum Egypt 4th An Egyptian grape originating near Alexandria. It was said to be white, sweet, fragrant and light.
Massicum Italy 3rd Another product of Naples vines. It was considered a harsh wine.
Meroënian Nubia 4th Ascending through Nubia, to the confluence of the Nile with the Astapus, we reach Meroë, whose wine has been immortalized by Lucan.
Messanic Sicily 4th See MAMERTINE.
Mulsum Italy 4th A common class wine, generally sweetened with honey and served to Plebes and the lower classes at public events.
Mustum Italy 4th A low quality grape juice, mixed with vinegar and drank fresh after pressing.
Myrtites Italy 4th Example of wines used for medicinal purposes. Myrtites was a general medicine aiding many ailments.
Passum Crete 4th Raisin wine. Obviously made from nearly completely dried grapes. It's most prized variety was imported from Crete.
Posca Italy 4th A sour vinegar like wine (acetum) mixed with water to reduce the bitterness and generally available to soldiers and lower classes.
Potalanum Sicily 4th See MAMERTINE.
Privernatinum Italy 3rd A thin and pleasant wine from Privernum, a town on the Volscian hills
Rhaetic Italy 4th A sweet wine made from grapes grown in the Alps, especially prized from near Verona, Italy. Suetonius claims that this wine, and not Setinum was actually the favorite of Augustus.
Rheginum Italy 3rd Similar to Privernatinum.
Scillites Italy 4th Example of wines used for medicinal purposes. Scillites was used for digestion and as a tonic.
Sebennyticum Greece 4th The wine of Antylla, a town not far from Alexandria, regarded as cheap wine.
Setinum Italy 1st An strong, sweet Italian wine of Latium considered perhaps the best of wines. It was the favored wine of Augustus hailing from the hills of Setia. However, Setinum seems to have fallen into disfavor and became nearly extinct due to miscultivation and the canal of Nero that was dug out directly in this grapes natural habitat.
Signinum Italy 3rd From Signia, a town on the Volscian hills, this wine looked upon only in the light of a medicine, being valuable for its astringent qualities.
Surrentinum Italy 3rd Hailing from the bay of Naples, this mid class wine was considered lacking in richness and very dry. It was best when kept between 5 and 20 years. The Emperor Tiberius referred to it as nothing more than generous vinegar. His successor Caligula called it nobilis vappa, indicated it being known as worthless. Of course, these men had tastes for higher qualities, so their reaction can be understood.
Taenioticum Egypt 4th Named from a long narrow sandy ridge near the western extremity of the Nile Delta. It was aromatic, slightly astringent, and of an oily consistency, which disappeared when it was mixed with water.
Tarraco Spain 4th A wine of Hispania that was considered a worthy import.
Thebaisian Greece 4th The wine of the Thebaïs, and especially of Coptos, was so thin and easily thrown off that it could be given without injury to fever patients. It was regarded as cheap wine.
Veliterninum Italy 3rd A wine from Velitrae, a town on the Volscian hills. It was a sound wine, but had this peculiarity, that it always tasted as if mixed with some foreign substance.
Vinum Diachytum Italy 4th Similar to vinum dulce but grapes were allowed to dry in the sun for longer periods of time and was described as more 'luscious' than the vinum dulce.
Vinum Dulce Italy 4th A sweet wholesome wine, made from dried grapes that were pressed in the heat of the day.
Vinum Marrubii Italy 4th Example of wines used for medicinal purposes. Marrubii was used for coughs.
Vinum Praeliganeum Italy 4th Manufactured from inferior and half-ripe fruit gathered before the regular harvest period. Perhaps also used in the production of ciders and similar drinks.
Vinum Pramnian Greece 4th A Greek wine that was considered harsh, astringent and remarkably strong.
Vinum Operarium Italy 4th See LORA.
Vinum Opimianum Italy 4th The year B.C. 121 is said to have been a season singularly favourable to all the productions of the earth; from the great heat of the autumn the wine was of an unprecedented quality, and remained long celebrated, being treasured up and sedulously preserved, so that samples were still in existence in the days of the elder Pliny, nearly two hundred years afterwards. It was reduced to the consistence of rough honey, and, like other very old wines, so strong and harsh and bitter as to be undrinkable until largely diluted with water. Such wines were useful for flavouring others when mixed in small quantities.

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