In yesterday’s blog post we told you about the recent discovery of one of the oldest and largest wine cellars in the world belonging to Canaanites living in north Israel around 1700 BCE. So today we’ve decided to share an ancient wine recipe that you can make to keep in your own wine cellar.
Spiced wine dates back to ancient Egypt, circa 3150 BCE, when it was made mainly for medicinal purposes and as a necessary menu item in the afterlife. The recipe often included pine resin, figs, and herbs like balm, coriander, mint and sage. Several jars of up to five different types of wine were placed in the tombs of pharaohs and other royals.
The Romans learned wine-making from the Greeks who saw the drink as a staple of daily life. Romans took what they had learned from the Greeks and set about producing their own wine. They researched wine production to improve upon every stage of the process and some say they eventually perfected it. The Roman people were not content to produce only one type of wine and so they used various techniques to create multiple kinds. Spicing the wine, just as the Egyptians and Greeks had done, provided unique varieties. Eventually, nine different types of Roman wine emerged:
- FALERNUM: The most famous Roman wine. It was a white wine that was better aged than previous versions.
- CALENUM: Similar to Falernum, this was a light tasting wine.
- ALBANUM: There were two types: dry and sweet. Both needed 15 years to mature.
- MASSILITANUM: A smoky, cheap wine that was reputedly healthy but not very tasty.
- MOMENTANUM: This variety needed at least five years to be drinkable.
- MULSUM: Honey was the key ingredient, added either during or after fermentation.
- PASSUM: Raisons flavored this wine.
- CONDITUM: Following an ancient Greek custom, this wine was infused with pepper, honey and seawater.
- LORA: Lora was made from the leftovers of grape production, and was designated for slaves.
The following recipe is technically a Mulsum Roman wine, but includes the pepper used in Conditum. Serve this at your next holiday gathering and you can party like the ancient Romans!
Imperial Roman Honey-Spiced Wine
*Adapted from this recipe: http://www.delish.com/recipefinder/roman-empire-honey-spiced-wine-del1110
- 1 bottle (750-milliliter) white wine
- 1 cup honey or agave
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small bay leaf
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed mastic*
- 1 pinch saffron
- 2 dates, with pits if possible
- Place all but ½ cup wine in a saucepan and add the honey. Stir and heat just enough to dissolve the honey. Add the pepper, mastic, bay leaf, and saffron. Remove from the heat.
- Remove the pits from the dates if un-pitted. Place the date pits in a small sauté pan and gently toast them over a low flame until lightly colored. Add to the wine mixture. (This step can be omitted if the dates are pitted.)
- Soften the date flesh in the remaining ½ cup of white wine. Puree in a blender or by pounding in a mortar. Add to the wine mixture. Stir to combine and let infuse for several hours or, ideally, overnight. Strain and serve at room temperature or chilled.