Glendale Local History Society

'Keeping the Past Alive'

9th December 2015: Vita vinum est: life is wine: Romans and their wine

2015 December  Vita vinum est: life is wine: Romans and their wine                                      

“Having just graduated I was unsure what to do next”.

For Professor Jeremy Patterson, the solution to this quandary led him to research wine production in the ancient world.

He soon found himself immersed in an absorbing study of the commercial life of ancient Greek and Roman civilisations that became his life’s work.

In an informative and entertaining talk entitled Life is Wine, Professor Patterson described how the cultivation of grape vines and olive trees started at about 6000 BC and was one of the first forms of agriculture. He suggested that the production of wine and olive oil was an important factor in the development of a more settled agrarian lifestyle which led to the establishment of city states all around the Mediterranean. Trade routes were established as the Roman Empire expanded. Commerce often preceded conquest.

 The wine was transported in amphorae, large pottery vessels and sold by weight. Its quality was tested by inspectors and the trade regulated by a legal framework that would have been familiar to us. There are How to do manuals that have survived to this day.

Professor Patterson surprised his audience by revealing that he is one of only five people who have actually tasted ancient Roman wine! His verdict – a bit acidic but not bad after two thousand years of aging!

Charlie Brown