The most famous wine of ancient Rome, Falernian was a white wine produced in the northern Campania region of Italy. Three different zones were identified: Caucinian, Faustian, and Falernian. The wine was ageworthy, and was said to be worthy of drinking only after 10 to 20 years of aging. By the time of maturity, the wine was a deep amber color. It is often described as a strong and hot wine, suggesting a high alcoholic content. It was customary among ancient peoples to cut down on the alcohol content of wine by diluting it with water, a practise sometimes looked down on when it came to good wine like Falernian.

The grape varietal has long since vanished, but some wine makers persist in making wines in Campania. Mastroberardino produces several wines in the Campania region, some of which may be from varietal descendents of ancient Falernian. Nonetheless, no one knows exactly how Falernian was made or how it tasted.

The wine is celebrated in the literature of many ancient Roman authors, including Petronius, Catullus, and Horace. Toward the end of the 1st century AD, Pliny wrote about overproduction and a general decline in the quality of Falernian, a concern echoed by most modern wine lovers over any varietal that sees a surge in popularity. In a famous ode to wine (#27, ad pincernam suum, "to his wine bearer"), Catullus praises "good old" undiluted Falernian:
Come, my boy, bring me the best
of good old Falernian:
we must drink down stronger wine
to drink with this mad lady.
Postumia's our host tonight;
drunker than the grape is,
is she--
and no more water;
water is the death of wine.
Serve the stuff to solemn fools
who enjoy their sorrow,
respectable, no doubt--
but wine!
Here's wine!
The very blood of Bacchus!


Horace Gregory, translation.

Fa*ler"ni*an (?), a.

Of or pertaining to Mount Falernus, in Italy; as, Falernianwine.

 

© Webster 1913.

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