Ancient Greece: Common additives

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Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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The basic wine could be ‘improved’ by various additives: the use of a small percentage of seawater or brine seems to have begun in the 4th century bc, apparently as a flavouring, although it probably also had preservative qualities, and the technique was associated with particular areas of production, notably the island of Kós, and marked a shift in taste during antiquity. We also hear of the addition of aromatic herbs, to produce a sort of vermouth, and of perfume being added both in production and by the consumer, as well as of the use of boiled must and, on Thásos, of the addition of a mixture of dough and honey to produce a special cuvée for consumption on state occasions. blending of different wines was also practised: Theophrastus gives one example, a mixture of hard but aromatic wine from Heraclea with soft Erythraean (a salted wine) which lacks bouquet, and says that there are many other blends known to experts (see tasting, ancient history). There is some evidence, mainly in the Bronze Age, for the deliberate addition of pine or terebinth resin, but it is likely that storage (below) was normally a more significant cause of such flavours.