Archaeologists try their hand at winemaking -- ancient Roman style

Aug. 22, 2013 at 3:44 PM
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CATANIA, Italy, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- Archaeologists in Italy say they've begun a project with the goal of making red wine exactly as the ancient Romans.

Researchers at Sicily's University of Catania have planted a vineyard using techniques garnered from ancient texts and say they expect to harvest its first vintage within four years, Britain's The Guardian newspaper reported Thursday.

"We are more used to archaeological digs but wanted to make society more aware of our work, otherwise we risk being seen as extraterrestrials," archaeologist Daniele Malfitana said.

No modern chemical will be used in the vineyard and the vines are being planted using wooden Roman tools and fastened with canes as the Romans did, the researchers said.

The wine will not be fermented in barrels, they said, but rather in large terracotta pots buried to the neck in the ground, lined with beeswax to make them impermeable and left open during fermentation before being sealed shut with clay or resin.

"We will not use fermenting agents, but rely on the fermentation of the grapes themselves, which will make it as hit and miss as it was then -- you can call this experimental archaeology," project manager Mario Indelicato said.

"To sweeten up their wine, which could be vinegary, the Romans added honey and water to it," he said. "They made better stuff for nobles and cheaper, more vinegary stuff for slaves. We will try and make both types."

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