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Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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(Quintus Horatius Flaccus) (65–8 bc), the Latin poet, did not write a systematic guide to viticulture but wine does figure prominently in his work, and reflects his Epicurean philosophy of enjoying its pleasures in moderation. He tells us that at the Sabine farm which his patron Maecenas gave him he does not grow wine (Epistles 1. 14), but as a token of his gratitude he serves Maecenas the local wine, laid down by the poet himself in the year that his patron had recovered from a serious illness (Odes 1. 20). This matching of the wine to the guest and the occasion is a constant feature of Horace’s invitation poems, and other poems about drinking: see also Odes 1. 9 and 4. 2 (simple wines for intimate occasions), 3. 21 (a wine from the year of the poet’s birth for an honoured guest), 1. 37 (a grand old caecuban to celebrate the defeat of the monstrous Cleopatra), 3. 14 (a wine that goes back to the Social War, 91–88 bc, to celebrate Augustus’ return), 3. 28 (Caecuban of Bibulus’ consular year, 59 bc, in honour of Neptune).