This wine testing workshop will take you back to ancient Rome

Apr 17, 2016, 10:41 IST | Anju Maskeri

A new workshop tells you what wine tasted like in ancient Rome

It is believed that Cleopatra wasn't too fond of drinking wine, but she loved to bathe in the drink. This was one of the secrets behind her apparent beauty. According to historical sources, Roman leader Julius Caesar, too, loved sipping on Greek wine, but his Roman favourite was Mamertino, and it is available till date.

You'll be treated to many more fascinating nuggets of information along with a wine tasting session at a workshop on April 27 organised by the Italian consulate. Titled, In Vino Veritas — Wine in Roman times and Middle Ages, the session will demystify the ancient process of winemaking.

"In the 13th century, Romans sweetened wine with honey. They became familiar with sugar only after colonisation," says Luca Bernardini, who will helm the workshop. Ancient wine, he says, tasted nothing like the modern variant. "It had a lot of pepper in it. The Romans loved it. In fact, you'll find this ingredient in 80 per cent of the Roman cuisine including desserts," he says.

Pompeii wines, we are told, were considered among the best in the Empire, but were fiercely alcoholic and often diluted with honey, spices and even seawater to mask their rancid flavour.

"Early wine was high in alcohol and made without the additives used today that help control taste and alcoholic content. The wine was always diluted with water," says Bernardini. The highest selling wine at that time was the hippocrasus made with sugar and spices. The Romans are thought to have picked up winemaking from the Etruscans and ancient Greeks.

Luca Bernardini
Luca Bernardini

The 1.5-hour-workshop will also focus on the difference in the wines in ancient Rome and the Middle Ages. "The quality of spirits in ancient Rome was top notch. With the fall of the Roman Empire, the new Islamic rulers introduced restrictions on the trade and wine-making took a hit," he says.

"By then, Italians had become prolific grape-growers, developing new methods and introducing significant barrel storage." At the session, Bernardini will also touch upon modern wines like Shiraz.

Did you know?
Roman leader Julius Caesar loved sipping on Greek wine, but his Roman favourite was called Mamertino, and is still made today

Where: Italian consulate, Kanchenjunga, Piano Terra 72 G Deshmukh Marg
When: April 27, 7 PM
To register, log on to


Go to top