Greece and Rome

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

Phoenician and Greek traders introduced the cultivated vine throughout the Mediterranean basin, where the Greeks developed the cult of Dionysos, god of vegetation, the vine, and the temporary release from ordinary life that wine made possible. By Homer’s time, about 700 BCE, wine had become a standard beverage in Greece, one that was made strong, watered down before drinking, and graded in quality for freeman and slave. The culture of the vine was not established in Italy until about 200 BCE, but it took hold so well that the Greeks took to calling southern Italy Oenotria, “land of the grape.”