The Rise of Local Wines

Aureus depicting Julius Caesar
Dictator, 48-44 B.C.

The regions of Latium and Campania were reputed to be the finest Roman wines. From there came the vintages of Setinum that would particularly appeal to the palate of the emperor Augustus a few decades later; from there too came the vintages of Caecubum and Falernum that later poets and satirists recalled with particular fondness and not a little awe.

Interest in, and acceptance of the wines of Campania gained much from Falernian being served alongside the already famed Greek wine from Chios at a banquet in 60 B.C. that honored Julius Caesar's conquest of Spain (see Pliny, Natural HistoryXIV.97).

Such views hinged on personal taste, of course. Pliny noted the esteem in which wines from the Surrentinum area were held "because of their thinness and health giving qualities...." (Natural History XIV.64), yet the emperor Tiberius (reigned, A.D. 14-35) labeled them as "generous vinegar."