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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 during their 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.

The flower6 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. Leaden7 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.

1 Casks, in fact, similar to those used in France at the present day. In Spain they use earthen jars and the skins of animals.

2 Oblong earthen vessels, used as vats.

3 Ventruosa." He means "round."

4 As oblong ones, probably.

5 While fermenting, and before racking off.

6 Flos vini, the Mycoderma vini of Desmazieres, a mould or pellicule which forms on the surface, and afterwards falls and is held in suspension.

7 Vessels of lead are never used for this purpose at the present day; as that metal would oxidize too rapidly, and liquids would have great difficulty in coming to a boil. A slow fire must have been used by the ancients.

8 They were thought to give a bad flavour to the sapa or defrutum.

9 A mere puerility, as Fée remarks.

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