Salento rosé, a tradition that stretches back to Roman times

linea_cantele2015_rosatoWe were intrigued to read this wonderful post on the history of rosé winemaking in Salento by Adele Elisabetta Granieri, contributor to the popular Italian wine blog, Luciano Pignataro Wineblog.

In Salento, people often talk about the birth of rosé wines in the period that followed World War II. But Granieri points to Roman-era documents where rosé winemaking techniques and practices are described in detail.

The Romans regularly drank “wine obtained from newly pressed juice,” she writes (translation by our blogmaster).

What we would call “free-run juice,” in other words, the first must obtained by the weight of the grape bunches on one another, was called protropum by Roman naturalist writer Pliny, she explains.

“Columella called it mustum lixivium. It was mixed with honey to make mulsum, a beverage widely enjoyed at the time, traditionally offered to travelers.”

Perhaps owing to its nature as free-run juice, this form of winemaking was called a lacrima, in other words, tear-drop fermentation (lacrima means tear, as in crying, in Italian and Latin).

The first must to be obtained was vinified separately, writes Granieri, and was considered easy-drinking wine.

There are mentions of this technique, she notes, stretching back to the Renaissance and beyond.

According to her post, the tradition of rosé winemaking thrived in Salento until the phylloxera era and French protectionist policies that decimated the Pugliese wine trade. It wouldn’t be until the years following World War II that legacy winery De Castris would popularize Salento rosé again.

Thank you, Adele, for this awesome post!

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