wine cellar
The Apotheca of Senex Caecilius

Edepol ! It is dark in this wine cellar; watch your step, please.

The amphorae contain our local wine production, but there may be other items stored down here as well. I think I spy a basket of mushrooms (fungi), another one filled with onions (caepae,) and some dried herbs hanging from the ceiling.

Besides being the name for a clay vessel, an amphora was also a unit of measurement for liquids: one cubic Roman foot (25.79 liters, about 7 U.S. gallons).

A resource on Italian wine regions includes maps, histories, and products of Latium, Veneto, Piedmont, Tuscany, Umbria, Campania, Apulia, Sardinia, Sicily, and many others.

Here is some additional information about wine preservation and consumption.

  • Wine was preserved in amphorae whose necks were stoppered with cork or clay and labeled with tags stating the vintage.
  • The most highly esteemed vintage was Falernian, although Pliny says almost 200 different varieties existed in his day.
  • Other popular vintages were Setian (the favorite of Augustus), Caecubum, Albanum, Mamertinum, and Chian (from the Greek islands).
  • Wine was generally diluted with water, but was drunk spiced, cooled with snow, or heated, and honeyed as well.
  • Drinking unwatered wine was considered abnormal, the usual proportion of water being at least one-third or more up to four-fifths.

    Some of the preceding information comes from Life in Ancient Rome, written by F. R. Cowell and published in1976 by The Berkley Publishing Group (New York).

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