THE OLDEST WINE OF THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA: MOSCATO DI SIRACUSA
Wine, as it is known, has been diffuse since ancient times. In fact, instances of wine citation reach back to the Babylonian age of Gilgamesh. Perhaps the oldest known sample, an amphora containing traces of wine, was found in Ajii Firuz, Armenia, in the form of a bi-conical vase dating back to the year 3,500 BC. The first traces of wine cultivar in the Mediterranean sea originated at some point during the IV Millennium on the island of Cyprus (Erimi and Pygros), where the wine vase was invented and later evolved into the Roman amphora, the most commonly used receptacle of the ancient era, and the best method of its time for the preservation and transportation of wine.The myth and the legend of Moscato or Pollio of Syracuse. Homer and Hesiod described it thusly: “sweet, graciously scented and most suave… the only example where poetry and lyrics converge in the memory of time…” Moscato di Siracusa is derived from a variety of grapes originating in the Caucasus, and is the oldest known variety among whites. The Greeks called it “Anathelicon moschaton“, and they cultivated and exported the grapes throughout the Mediterranean. The Siceliot (ancient Sicilians) referred to the grape as “Pollio“, also known as “Biblino“, a name that comes from Pollio Argivio, the king who ruled the Greek colony of Syracuse.
Wine for a perfect “symposium”. In ancient Greek society, wine had a fundamental role in the symposium (from etymological root, syn- + posis, meaning “ to drink together”) because it facilitated both profound meditation and interpersonal relationships. Wines were often diluted with water, honey and spices in order to render it more palatable, except for the Moscato of Siracusa, which did not require much tampering and was likely very similar then as it is today. Once considered a luxury item afforded almost exclusively to nobility, enjoying this wine today allows the rest of us to share the experience the same kind of sensation those ancient peoples revered: “ …intense, persistent, fine, vast and ethereal, with a hint of honey, candied fruit and white withered flowers”.
Among famous historical figures and favorable appraisers of various time periods we find Frederick II, the Emperor of Sicily (XIII Century) who loved Syracuse for the beauty of its landscape and the bounty of its vineyards, and who built there a castle which he named, “Solacium“.
More recently, the XIX Century Italian composer Giacomo Rossini and XX Century American writer Henry Dumas, were among the many who visited Syracuse for the pleasure of taking in the physical and ethereal beauty of the place, as well as taste the famous Moscato of Syracuse, decanted by the ancient poets so long ago.