previous next


All the luscious wines have but little1 aroma: the thinner the wine the more aroma it has. The colours of wines are four, white,2 brown,3 blood-coloured,4 and black.5 Psythium6 and melampsythium7 are varieties of raisin-wine which have the peculiar flavour of the grape, and not that of wine. Seybelites8 is a wine grown in Galatia, and Aluntium9 is a wine of Sicily, both of which have the flavour of mulsum.10 As to siræum, by some known as "hepsema," and which in our language is called "sapa,"11 it is a product of art and not of Nature, being prepared from must boiled down to one-third: when must is boiled down to one-half only, we give it the name of " defrutum." All these mixtures have been devised for the adulteration of honey.12 As to those varieties which we have previously mentioned, their merits depend upon the grape, and the soil in which it is grown. Next after the raisin-wine of Crete,13 those of Cilicia and Africa are held in the highest esteem, both in Italy as well as the adjoining provinces. It is well known that it is made of a grape to which the Greeks have given the name of "stica," and which by us is called "apiana:"14 it is also made of the scirpula.15 The grapes are left on the vine to dry in the sun, or else are boiled in the dolium.16 Some persons make this wine of the sweet and early white17 grape: they leave the grapes to dry in the sun, until they have lost pretty nearly half their weight, after which they crush them and subject them to a gentle pressure. They then draw off the juice, and add to the pulp that is left an equal quantity of well-water, the product of which is raisin-wine of second quality.18 The more careful makers not only do this, but take care also after drying the grapes to remove the stalks, and then steep the raisins in wine of good quality until they swell, after which they press them. This kind of raisin-wine is preferred to all others: with the addition of water, they follow the same plan in making the wine of second quality.

The liquor to which the Greeks give the name of" aigleucos,"19 is of middle quality, between the sirops and what is properly called wine; with us it is called "semper mustum."20 It is only made by using great precaution, and taking care that the must does not ferment;21 such being the state of the must in its transformation into wine. To attain this object, the must is taken from the vat and put into casks, which are immediately plunged into water, and there left to remain until the winter solstice is past, and frosty weather has made its appearance. There is another kind, again, of natural aigleucos, which is known in the province of Narbonensis by the name of "dulce,"22 and more particularly in the district of the Vocontii. In order to make it, they keep the grape hanging on the tree for a considerable time, taking care to twist the stalk. Some, again, make an incision in the bearing shoot, as deep as the pith, while others leave the grapes to dry on tiles. The only grape, however, that is used in these various processes is that of the vine known as the "helvennaca."23

Some persons add to the list of these sweet wines that known as "diachyton."24 It is made by drying grapes in the sun, and then placing them for seven days in a closed place upon hurdles, some seven Feet from the ground, care being taken to protect them at night from the dews: on the eighth day they are trodden out: this method, it is said, produces a liquor of exquisite bouquet and flavour. The liquor known as melitites25 is also one of the sweet wines: it differs from mulsum, in being made of must; to five congii of rough-fla- voured must they put one congius of honey, and one cyathus of salt, and they are then brought to a gentle boil: this mixture is of a rough flavour. Among these varieties, I ought to place what is known as "protropum;"26 such being the name given by some to the must that runs spontaneously from the grapes before they are trodden out. Directly it flows it is put into flaggons, and allowed to ferment; after which it is left to ripen for forty days in a summer sun, about the rising of the Dog-star.

1 The sweet wines, in modern times, have the most bouquet or aroma.

2 "Albus," pale straw-colour.

3 "Fulvus," amber-colour.

4 Bright and glowing, like Tent and Burgundy.

5 "Niger," the colour of our port.

6 Supposed to be a species of Pramnian wine, mentioned in c. 6. This was used, as also the Aminean, for making omphacium, as mentioned in B. xii. c. 60. See also c. 18 of this Book.

7 "Black psythian"

8 Mentioned by Galen among the sweet wines.

9 See B. iii. c. 14. Now Solana in Sicily, which produces excellent wine.

10 Honied wine.

11 This was evidently a kind of grape sirop, or grape jelly. "Rob" is perhaps, as Hardouin suggests, a not inappropriate name for it.

12 When cold, they would have nearly the same consistency.

13 The raisin wine of Crete was the most prized of all as a class.

14 Mentioned in c. 4. Probably a muscatel grape.

15 See c. 4 of this Book.

16 Or "vat." The common reading was "oleo," which would imply that hey were plunged into boiling oil. Columella favours the latter reading, B. xii. c. 16.

17 The reading is probably defective here.

18 Passum secundarium.

19 Or "always sweet."

20 "Always must."

21 Fervere, "boil," or "effervesce."

22 "Sweet" drink. Fée seems to think that this sweet wine must have been something similar to champagne. Hardouin says that it corresponds to the vin doux de Limoux, or blanquette de Limoux, and the vin Muscat d'Azile.

23 See c. 3 of this Book.

24 "Poured," or "strained through."

25 "Honey wine." A disagreeable medicament, Fée thinks, rather than a wine.

26 Somewhat similar to the vin de premiere goutte of the French. It would seem to have been more of a liqueur than a wine. Tokay is made in a somewhat similar manner.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Latin (Karl Friedrich Theodor Mayhoff, 1906)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

hide References (5 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (1):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), PE´RGULA
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (4):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: