A Glimpse Into the History of Roman Wine

Have you ever wondered about the history of wine and where it started? Since winemaking has been around since before 4000 BC, there’s quite a bit of information out there. Wine has been enjoyed by civilizations worldwide, but it’s no secret that Ancient Rome took it to another level. From the many places, they found grapes to the extravagant settings in which they drank wine, the Romans truly lived up to their reputation as an indulgent civilization, and the history of Roman wine deserves a closer look. With that in mind, here, we will explain Roman wine’s history.

Roman Drinks

Romans used to drink both white and red wine. To keep their wine from turning sour, they aged their grapes longer, which delivered a higher liquor than ordinary wine. At that point, they needed to blend it in with water to have the option to drink it. So, what wine did the Romans drink, or did they drink different kinds of liquor? In Ancient Rome, people had access to other beverages such as hydromel, mead, beer, and posca. They also had access to cold and hot alcoholic varieties. There were cultural differences. People from the privileged classes used to drink the highest quality of wine as they accepted it as a heavenly beverage. On the other hand, individuals who belong to the lower class used to drink poor-quality wine.

roman wine

Roman Legends About Wine

The Roman divine force of wine was Bacchus. They got this from the Ancient Greeks. Later, Dionysus became their God. However, the “top choice” divine force of wine was Bacchus, who was Roman. According to Roman folklore, he was the person who communicated his insight into how to establish plants and how to make wine for people. Historical paintings and sculptures are devoted to Bacchus. He is a moderately aged man with a beard[1] and a head covered with a complicated headpiece of grapes and plants. Typically, he is depicted holding a glass of wine.

Understanding the Influence of the Greeks

Greek dominance during the 300-300 BC was huge as Romans used to drink only Greek wine. The wines at that time were costly, and most parts of the wine used to come from Greece. Rome’s wine was not so famous in that period, and they preferred Greek wine. At that time, oxidized wine had its own popularity. They blended spices and honey with wine and made it more similar to the taste of Sherries. Romans also did the same. This propensity made many wines unquestionably sweet or extremely serious, so they must be watered down to make them attractive.

Greek wine was pricey, whereas Roman wines were cheap at that time. However, the second century BC began the ‘golden age’ in the history of Roman winemaking and the improvement of fabulous Grand Cru Vineyards. This was considered the Opimian Vintage. It was named Lucius Opimius. Pliny the Elder expounded on the developments of Rome. He highlighted Caecuban, Alban, and Falernian wines.

Ancient Carthage

Carthage was a kind of settlement in the region that is called Tunisia. Later it turned into a city-state and, afterward, a domain. It was in the 10th century BC when the Phoenicians established it. Later, the Romans annihilated it in 146 BC. Regardless of having been one of the most powerful developments of ancient times, Carthage is generally associated with its long and severe struggle with Rome. It undermined the ascent of the Roman Republic and nearly steered Western progress.

Wine Monopoly

The Romans immediately brought wine creation into their hands and began utilizing the techniques they had gained from the Carthaginians. Very soon, Rome had a winemaking industry. They had restricted the wine creation in the external areas. This syndication caused a wine deficiency and rising costs. The boycott stayed unaltered for an additional hundred years. In Gaul, the wine costs arrived at monstrous aspects, and they were high to such an extent that you could exchange a slave for an amphora of wine of about 40L.

On This Day

  • 2nd Century BC: During this time, people saw the rise of the ‘golden age.’
  • 121BC: It was considered Opimian Vintage and named after Lucius Opimius.
  • 92 AD: During this age, a new rule had been imposed that banned several new vineyards.
  • 146BC: During this time, the oldest work on horticulture and wine had been written using Punic language. After the annihilation of Carthage, the Senate declared that this composition needed to be converted into Latin.
  • 154 BC: According to Pliny, during this time, the winemaking process and production of wine in Italy were unsurpassed.[2]

Want to read more? Try these books

Roman Wine, A Glimpse Into the History of Roman WineRoman Wine, A Glimpse Into the History of Roman WineRoman Wine, A Glimpse Into the History of Roman WineRoman Wine, A Glimpse Into the History of Roman Wine


[1] R. Phillips A Short History of Wine pp. 35–45 Harper Collins 2000 ISBN 0-06-621282-0

2 Dodd, Emlyn (April 2014). “From Hispania to the Chalkidiki: A Detailed Study of Transport Amphorae from the Macquarie University Museum of Ancient Cultures”. Chronika.

3 DODD, EMLYN K. (2020). ROMAN AND LATE ANTIQUE WINE PRODUCTION IN THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN : a comparative … archaeological study at antiochia ad cragum. [Place of publication not identified]: ARCHAEOPRESS. ISBN 978-1-78969-403-1. OCLC 1139263254.

Gall, Darren. 2018. “Natural History Part 3. The Opimian Falernian, One Wine to Rule Them All.” Vindochine. July 8, 2018. https://www.vindochine.com/2018/07/08/natural-history-part-3-opimian-falernian-one-wine-rule/.


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