Just like us, Romans regularly enjoyed wine (vinum) of fine, aged vintage. Some wines, such as Falernian, were higher in alcohol content than others, but it was the flavour of Falernian that was praised.
There is now no wine known that ranks higher than the Falernian; it is the only one, too, among all the wines that takes fire on the application of flame. —Pliny
Ripe grapes were harvested into a shallow vat and stomped by naked feet. Then the grapes went through a special wine press, torculum, to extract all remaining juice. The result of the stomp and press was an unfermented, sweet grape juice, called mustum, and solid particles which were strained out.
Mustum could be used as is, combined with other ingredients, or processed further by being fermented in buried jars, to produce wine fine enough to inspire poets or to add the gift of Bacchus to feasts. Doctors recommended certain varieties of wine as wholesome and prescribed some varieties as part of their healing therapies.
- Caecubum—from poplar swamps by the Gulf of Amyclae, in Latium. The best Roman wine, but it was no longer superior by the time of the elder Pliny.
- Setinum—from the hills of Setia, above the Appian forum. A wine Augustus is said to have enjoyed, the top wine from the time of Augustus.
- Falernum—from the slopes of Mt. Falernus on the border between Latium and Campania, from the Aminean grape. Falernum is usually cited as the best Roman wine. It was a white wine that was aged 10-20 years until it was amber-coloured. Subdivided into Caucinian, Faustian and Falernian.
- Albanum—wines from the Alban Hills kept for 15 years; Surrentinum (kept for 25 years), Massicum from Campania,
- Gauranum, from the ridge above Baiae and Puteoli, Calenum from Cales, and Fundanum from Fundi were next best.
- Veliterninum—from Velitrae, Privernatinum from Privernum, and Signinum from Signia — Volscian wines were next best.
- Formianum—from the Gulf of Caieta.
- Mamertinum (Potalanum)—from Messana.
- Rhaeticum—from Verona (Augustus’ favorite, according to Suetonius)