CHAP. 27. (21.)—WINE-VESSELS—WINE-CELLARS.
The various methods of keeping and storing wines in the
cellar are very different. In the vicinity of the Alps, they put
their wines in wooden vessels hooped around;1
cold winters, they even keep lighted fires, to protect the wines
from the effects of the cold. It is a singular thing to mention, but still it has been occasionally seen, that these vessels
have burst asunder, and there has stood the wine in frozen
masses; a miracle almost, as it is not ordinarily the nature of
wine to freeze, cold having only the effect of benumbing it.
In more temperate climates, they place their wines in dolia,2
which they bury in the earth, either covering them entirely or
in part, according to the temperature. Sometimes, again, they
expose their wines in the open air, while at others they are
placed beneath sheds for protection from the atmosphere.
The following are among the rules given for the proper
management of wines:—One side of the wine-cellar, or, at
all events, the windows, ought to face the north-east, or at least
due east. All dunghills and roots of trees, and everything of
a repulsive smell, ought to be kept at as great a distance as
possible, wine being very apt to contract an odour. Fig-trees
too, either wild or cultivated, ought not to be planted in the
vicinity. Intervals should also be left between the vessels,
in order to prevent infection, in case of any of them turning
bad, wine being remarkably apt to become tainted. The
shape, too, of the vessels is of considerable importance: those
that are broad and bellying3
are not so good.4
We find it recommended too, to pitch them immediately after the rising of
the Dog-star, and then to wash them either with sea or salt
water, after which they should be sprinkled with the ashes of
tree-shoots or else with potters' earth; they ought then to be
cleaned out, and perfumed with myrrh, a thing which ought
to be frequently done to the wine-cellars as well. Weak,
thin wines should be kept5
in dolia sunk in the ground, while
those in which the stronger ones are kept should be more exposed to the air. The vessels ought on no account to be entirely
filled, room being left for seasoning, by mixing either raisin
wine or else defrutum flavoured with saffron; old pitch and
sapa are sometimes used for the same purpose. The lids, too,
of the dolia ought to be seasoned in a similar manner, with
the addition of mastich and Bruttian pitch.
It is strongly recommended never to open the vessels, except in fine weather; nor yet while a south wind is blowing,
or at a full moon.
of wine when white is looked upon as a good
sign; but when it is red, it is bad, unless that should happen
to be the colour of the wine. The vessels, too, should not be
hot to the touch, nor should the covers throw out a sort of
sweat. When wine very soon flowers on the surface and
emits an odour, it is a sign that it will not keep.
As to defrutum and sapa, it is recommended to commence
boiling them when there is no moon to be seen, or, in other
words, at the conjunction of that planet, and at no other time.
vessels should be used for this purpose, and not copper8
ones, and walnuts are generally thrown into them, from a
notion that they absorb9
the smoke. In Campania they expose the very finest wines in casks in the open air, it being the
opinion that it tends to improve the wine if it is exposed to the
action of the sun and moon, the rain and the winds.