How Romans Made Wine

How Romans Made Wine

Wine is probably one of the world’s alcoholic drinks. Some data suggests that wine was discovered as far as 6,000 BC.

Georgia is thought to be where wine originated. It has come to be known as the ‘cradle of wine’. A number of archaeologists have traced the world’s first known wine creation back to the people of the South Caucasus in 6,000BC. When making wine, early Georgians used juice extracted from grapes, stored them in earthenware vats (called qvevri or kvevri) and buried the same underground during winter. The grape juice ferments in the process and turns into wine in the process. Some of the qvevris they were buried in could remain underground for up to 50 years.

In an ancient society as grand as what Rome had, wine was a daily necessity, thus it was made accessible for the consumption of everyone, whether they were slaves, peasants, plebeians, or aristocrats alike. Because of its demand and popularity, the Romans took their production seriously. They even used barrels and various cultivation techniques that allowed them to make wine production more cost-efficient.

It can be said that Rome owes much of its knowledge in viticulture (the science and art of growing grapes for wine production purposes) through its conquest of Carthage. Documents from Mago, Cato the Elder, and Columella chronicled the various viticulture techniques Carthage used to ensure the quality production of grapes to be used for wine production.

It even innovations such as the usage of a trellis to make grape vineyards more organized. Roman viticulturists were among the first to identify steep hillsides as one of the better locations to plant vines, because cool air runs downhill and gathers at the bottom of valleys. They also studied the effects of cool air as to the plant’s photosynthesis and how the seasons affect the overall production output.

Because of its innovations and improvements streamlining its production processes, Rome reached its golden age of wine production during the 2nd century BC.

Within the Roman Empire, a city we’ve come to know later for being buried under the debris of lava and ash, played a crucial part in the empire’s wine production process. The ancient city of Pompeii was one of the most pivotal wine producers of the empire.

Pompeians had a widespread reputation for their wine-making capacity. With the god of wine, Bacchus, on their side, they relied on viticulture to produce high-quality wine from their grape harvests. The eruption of Mount Vesuvius dealt a heavy blow on Pompeii’s wine industry. Since the eruption destroyed most of their vineyards, the cost of wine production and eventually the price of wine rose so rapidly that it temporarily only became available to the affluent members of the society.

As a remedy, grain fields were converted to vineyards (which caused a food shortage later on because #priorities, right?).