The Mechanical Press

The production of mustum tortivum

The once-pressed grapes then were stacked on a cylindrical limestone slab recessed into the center of the treading floor. This slab formed the lower part of a mechanical press. The upper part was a wooden slab with four-handles to that workmen could screw down onto the grape-pile, so squeezing more juice out of it. The wine produced this way (mustum tortivum) was considered of inferior quality, and some of will have been red, if the grapes used were of a black variety. A lot of it most likely finished up in the taverns of large cities, and it was the quality of wine used by doctors in many of their concoction of herbal remedies.

"Pour this juice (mustum tortivum) into a new amphora and fill it to the brim, add little branches of sprigs of dried rosemary tied together with flax and allow them to ferment together for seven days. Then take out the bundle of twigs and carefully plaster up the wine after cleansing it....After two months you could use this wine as a medicine." (Columella, On Agriculture XII.xxxvi)