Let’s review the history of wine in Catalonia

Talking about wine in our country is to begin and not end. If you are not very familiar with the history of wine, we give you a short presentation to begin to understand the reason of the importance of wine in our country.

Although the Phoenicians and Greeks already brought the vineyard to the Peninsula, it was not until Roman times that wine began to be produced in large quantities.

Wine in ancient times

For the ancient Mediterranean civilizations, wine was the essential accompaniment to meals. Anyway, in those times it was taken mixed with water; drinking pure wine was considered a barbaric thing.

The ancient Greeks, for example, drank a lot of wine during the symposium, which was the part of the meal in which they talked and recited poems or songs. Since the goal was to talk about any matter for a long time without arguing too much, they put a portion of wine for five of water because alcohol shouldn’t affect the senses.

The centers of agricultural production of the Romans were the villas, houses on the outskirts of the city, which multiply in Hispania during the Roman Pax of Augustus. At that time there was an agricultural splendor and many villas were built, where they worked the Mediterranean trilogy: wheat, vineyard and olive tree.

The wine trade from Hispania was very successful. It was exported to Rome, to Marseille or to Carthage. It was so appreciated by consumers that the emperor Vespasian established a protectionist law prohibiting vineyards plantings on Hispania in order to protect the Italian production.

Wine in the Middle Ages

Between the 9th and 11th centuries, the cultivation of the vine spread trought the mountains of Catalunya Vella, the Catalan territory north of the Llobregat River. However, it was from the 12th century, with the repopulation of the southern territories, that the Cistercian monks gave the definitive impulse to the wine production.

In the monastery of Poblet there is still a 7-hectare vineyard where the Pinot Noir and Merlot varieties are grown. The wine produced is marketed by Codorniu under the Abadia de Poblet brand.

A lot of wine was drunk in the Middle Ages. The fact is that the wine was used to purify. Its alcohol helped to eliminate the bacterias from the water. Every level of society consumed it on a daily basis, from noble families to servants or slaves. Except Friday, which was the day of fast.

In the abbeys, for celebrations, monks drunk Pigmentum, a mixture of wine with honey, cinnamon and pepper. Later, the use of the spices was moderated. It was necessary to control lust, and besides it was not so expensive.

And we finish this first part of our review of the history of wine in Catalonia with an anecdote that allows us to show the importance that was given to wine in those days.

Antoni Tallander, also known as Mossèn Borra, was sent by King Alfonso the Magnanimous to the Romano-German court to ensure that Emperor Segimon remained faithful to the agreements established in the Peace of Constance of 1416. The king, to thank Tallander’s services granted him several privileges, but the most curious of all was that of being able to drink wine for free within all the Crown’s domains.

We will continue to talk about history of wine in Catalonia in the coming days. If you are encouraged to find out more about how it is produced today, come and visit the Penedes, the Priorat or any of the Catalan wine regions with us.

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