Wines of past cultures

If you are inspired by the Roman glasses and mugs, you might also want to add Roman wine to your banquet or culinary evening! Here you will find selected wines, made according to ancient recipes of Roman cooks, like that of Apicius.

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Wine of lost cultures

Wine (together with bee) was one of the most recognized drinks in Roman times. Just as today, there was a distinction between white and red wine, vinum album and vinum atrum. However, there were numerous others that were in between white and red wines. Apicius, in his recipee book that survived until today, opens his collection of recipees with a note on wines. But he also lets us know the recipe to speed up the process of wine making and informs as that wine during storage will become brighter. The preferred wine in Roman times was red wine. Unlike today, they opted for sweet wine. So far, we know of about 185 different grape sorts that were used by the Romans.

Omnipresent Roman wine

Hence, wine during the Roman Empire was a widespread commodity, which was available in all areas. Transported in huge amphorae throughout the Mediterranean, it also came to Northern Europe in barrels. Wine was drunk in large quantities, not only by citizens and soldiers, even slaves were allowed to drink wine. Only for women existed wine bans, however, this prohibition was already lifted during the late Republic.

Wine with honey

The sweet wine, which the Romans preferred, they called mulsum, which was made with added honey. This wine was mixed with water (1/10 of wine to 9/10 of water), and people drank the mixture during the day, and the pure vine in the evening. In the recipee book of Apicius, his De re coquinaria, we read in the opening, how to produce spiced wine, Conditum paradoxum:

"Put fifteen pounds of honey into a bronze vessel, having previously poured in two pints of wine. In this way, the wine shall be boiled off in the melting honey. The mixture is heated by a slow fire of dry wood and stirred, while boiling, with a wooden rod. If it begins to boil over, pour more wine over it. After the fire has been withdrawn, the remaining mixture will settle. When it has grown cold, another fire is kindled beneath. This second fire is followed by a third and only then can the mixture be moved away from the hearth. On the following day it is skimmed. Then add four ounces of ground pepper, three scruples of mastic, a single handful each of saffron leaves and spikenard, and five dried date stones, the dates having previously been softened in wine of the right quantity and quality to produce a soft mixture. When all this has been done, pour eigtheen pints of mild wine into the vessel. Hot coals are added to the finished product."

If you like, try out this recipe and fill the spiced wine into one of the beautiful jars, which you find at The Roman Shop. You will find complementary tableware at our shop pages.