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Viticulture and Wine in Anotolia during the Classical Period

Ionia

The first mention of wine made in Ionia is by the bard Homer (8th century B.C.). In his Iliad, he mentions a wine called Pramnios (or Pramnos); in his second epic, the Odyssey, he tells of Kirke the sorcerer intoxicating Odysseus and his friends with Pramnios wine and waylaying them.

Smyrna (Izmir): Pramnios wine is mentioned very early on in the first references to Smyrna, located on the border between Aeolis and Ionia. Although Homer does not state where Pramnios wine was produced, eight centuries later Pliny the Elder is more concise, stating that during the epic age (which includes Homer), Pramnios wine was not drunk straight, but was rather mixed with cheese, flour and honey. According to accounts, it was neither sweet nor dark; it was astringent, full-flavored and strong.

Before Pliny the Elder, Strabo counted Smyrna wine among valuable wines, both for pleasure as well as medicinal use. The Roman agricultural writer Marcus Terentius Varro (116-27 B.C.) wrote that the vines along the Smyrna coast bore twice a year, while Pliny the Elder states that they produced three times a year.

Clazomenae: Written sources mentioning the wine of Clazomenae (Urla Iskelesi) appear during the Roman period (1st and 2nd centuries A.D.). In his work, De Materia Medica, Dioscorides writes, “Because the wines of Clazomenae and Cos contain much sea water, they are easy to digest and aid the breathing, but are ruinous to the stomach and harmful to the nerves.” On the same subject, Pliny the Elder adds, “Today, Clazomenae wine has gained in favor, ever since they began adding less sea water.”

Erythrae (Cesme-Ildiri): Ancient dining authority Athenaeus says in his work Deipnosophistai that the wine of Erythrae is “mild and odorless,” and that “the clusters of grapes grow full and plump here.”According to information provided by Strabo, “Among the Erythraeans living in Mimas, Heracles is worshipped […] among the Erythraeans who live in Mimas as “Ipoctonus,” because he is the destroyer of the vine-eating ips; and in fact, they add, these are the only Erythraeans in whose country this creature is not to be found.”

Teos: (Seferihisar-Sigacik): Although we have no ancient sources of information on viticulture and wine here, the presence of a temple to Dionysus here built during the Hellenistic period and the depictions of clusters of grapes on coins indicate that Teos’ part in viticulture and wine production in the region should not be underestimated (Figure 9). In Teos, Dionysus was known by the nickname Setaneios, which is generally a term for “en primeur.” Dionysus must have been revered in Teos as the god of new wine.

Metropolis (Torbali): The town of Metropolis was mentioned by Strabo as one that produced good, high-quality wine.

Ephesus (Selcuk): We have three different pieces of information about the quality if its wine, from three different ancient writers. The physician Dioscorides mentions a type of wine obtained from vineyards near Ephesus and called Phygelites (Phygela wine). This wine was light, and good for the stomach. Athenaeus tells us that the village of Latoreia near Ephesus produced the best wine in the region. On the other hand, Pliny the Elder wrote that the wine of Ephesus was harmful to the stomach because seawater was added to it, and had to be boiled before drinking.

  • Ionia
  • Aeolis
  • Lydia
  • Mysia -Troas – Propontis
  • Bithynia
  • Pontus and Paphlagonia
  • Cilicia
  • Lycia – Pamphylia – Pisidia – Isaura
  • Phyrigia and Galatia
  • Caria
  • Eastern Anatolia
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