In Vino Veritas. Part I.

I will be VERY popular during the apocalypse. Homebrewers will be the richest, between selling booze for drinking and selling it for medicinal and antiseptic purpose.

But yes, welcome to Black Dolphin Brewing! Where my boyfriend and I make all sorts of delectable draughts of doom. (I love alliteration.) Since this blog is still rather new, I’m not going to backtrack to explain all that I have done so far. But, I am a member of the Smokingbridge Guild of Libation Brewers locally, and part of the entire East Kingdom Brewer’s Guild as well. I have yet to be paneled, but we’re working on that. WITH ROMAN WINE.

Of course it would be Roman, it’s what I do.

The Romans adored sweet white wines, contrary to the heavy reds that you often think of, Pliny the Elder gives us great insight as to how the Romans enjoyed their wines, from white grapes to heavy spices. Natural History can be quite a ponderous tome for those that don’t find him all that appealing, but, for a reference into how Romans viewed their natural world, it’s an invaluable tool for research. A free, solid translation of it is available online at the Perseus project through Tufts University here.

Pliny the Elder wrote during the Flavian Dynasty, and N.H. is dedicated to the Emperor Vespasian. Pliny is the reason why we have plinean eruptions, for the poor fella was killed indirectly from the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79. Most likely of a heart attack, as he was quite old. His nephew, Pliny the Younger, watched on from another boat as his uncle returned to help refugees escape the nasty pyroclastic flow. It is from these men we have the best eyewitness account of the eruption. The Younger wrote Epistles, which is a series of letters between him and the Emperor Domitian regarding his governance of an eastern province. They are absolutely boring, BUT, they give a remarkable insight into the inner workings of Roman goverment in the 1st Century. But, I digress…

I will be re-creating two styles of wine to start. Since this is my first wine, I will be making a moscato from a kit. The muscat grape is very ancient, and was cultivated throughout the region. It’s not one of my particularly favorite flavors (I’m a chardonnay and sauv blanc kinda lady, here. HEY, at least it’s not white zin?) The kit will be ready for me at my friendly local brewstore tonight. (Check out Basement Brewhaus in Providence. Cool, helpful people.)

I plan to follow the kit through the primary fermentation, then split off two smaller batches for secondary in which one will be resined with pine sap (yum?) and the other with roses. Pliny mentions both at Plin. Nat. 14.24-25 and Plin. Nat. 19.19 respectively.

Pliny devotes most of Book 14 to wines and wine making. There is also calidum, the hot spiced wine drunk year round, and diluted with water, usually seawater of some sort. Pliny gives a whole chapter on salted wines. Those Romans and their wacky tastebuds…

Pictures will be coming forthwith once the fermentation process begins.

4 thoughts on “In Vino Veritas. Part I.

  1. Have you tried Mavro Daphni? It is a Greek wine, that although cultivated by a German vintner in the 19th century, probably well approximates the malmsey from Monemvasia favored in the Byzantine era. Why am I replying to something so old? I needed to find the link for a good place in Providence to get wine-making tools.

    1. Hi Peter, the Providence brew store is Basement Brewhaus, it is located on Smith Hell, I mean, Hill. They are closed for the month of August for their annual renovations, but they are wicked cool peeps. Our backup store is Blackstone Brewing Supplies up in Woonsocket. That guy is great and has a good amount of inventory.

  2. I found your blog via Shakespeare on the Mount’s page. When I saw it was all full of Roman and Byz stuff, and quoting VNV, I looked a little deeper. I always thought the “In Vino” part was the missing aspect of the Harvard motto. Anyway, today we were talking about making wine fromt eh grapes that grow in my yard and I thought, “I’ve seen a link to wine making supplies recently, now where was that?” Cheers.

    1. Sweet, enjoy your poking around. I am now looking for malvasia grape juice for my next attempt at period wines. This project you’re posting on has now been finished and is in the aging process.

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