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
, 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
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
, 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,
and no more water;
water is the death of wine.
Serve the stuff to solemn fools
who enjoy their sorrow,
respectable, no doubt--
The very blood of Bacchus!
Horace Gregory, translation.