Who among us has never gone to a wine tasting party? We're talking about the kind in which the host wraps up bottles brought by party goers, then gives the secret bottles numerical identities, and paper and pen to the guests for writing tasting notes and voting for the favorite.
I enjoy being a bit bipolar in my reviewing technique, mostly for comedy, but if you are going to the trouble of reviewing something, why be bland about it?
But if a wine is better, I skew the results of comments wildly in the other direction. The prose on the notes quickly changes to the likes of 'A wine that thumps you on the head and demands respect. Complex lingering finish with vanilla and currant having just the right amount of French oak aging', that kind of thing.
All of it of course is rooted in a few grains of truth about the wine being tasted.
We have a wide variety of wine available today, but the ancients had a fair selection also. Wine came to ancient Italy from the Greeks at about 600 BC, and has been made there ever since. Pompeii itself was a major distribution port for wine, and if you go there today you can take pictures of the rows and rows of formerly wine containing amphorae like I did.
Well, yeast occurs naturally on the grapes. There are recorded instances of birds eating overly ripe fruit and flying erratically into walls because they are over the legal intoxication limit for flying!
Anyway, as the Romans picked and stomped (not in the Country Western music sense), they left the skins in the amphorae with the juice and it happened all by itself. I would like to believe they were smart enough to just pour back part of a bottle into the new batches, so the strain of yeast would become more refined and specialized
Here is a picture of a remarkably well preserved ancient wine press in Israel, but some have also been found in Italy.
Some random Roman wine fun facts:
- Senator Cato (contemporary of Julius Caesar) wrote extensively on wine, as did Pliny.
- It's documented that sweet white wine was the most valuable in ancient times.
- They used to sweeten some varieties of ancient wine with lead!
I think this weekend, I'll open up a really old vintage Italian wine, unleaded.
Quando vado a di festa vino (prova di assaggio), scrivo le osservazioni divertenti circa come i gusti del vino. La storia italiana del vino è affascinante.