A WINE FOR POETS AND SENATORS
Gershon ben Israel, a wine merchant Miriam first meets in The Deadliest Hate, is a dealer in Falernian wine, the wine that Julius Caesar drank in 60 BC to celebrate his conquest of Spain, the wine that held its top rank for 500 years. He tells her about this wine in Chapter 5:
As we speak, the Orion is carrying the most famous wine in the Empire to the one customer in Caesarea who can afford it, the prefect himself, Tiberius Julius Alexander. This wine comes from the central slopes of Mount Falernus, the finest wine-producing region in all of Italy. After a series of frosts, its Aglianico grapes are harvested, and then, after the juice is fermented, the wine is stored and aged in clay amphorae for at least a decade.
Later, Miriam is offered this wine at a palace reception. (See my blog of May 31, 2016.) So what could be the provenance of such a divine wine?
According to legend, Bacchus once visited an old Roman named Falernus who had a humble farm on his mountain. The farmer prepared a simple meal for Bacchus, who in gratitude for his host’s hospitality, filled all the cups on the table with wine. When the farmer awoke the next morning, Bacchus was gone, but the entire mountain was covered with vines. So, could a poet or senator expect anything less than a commissatio with the wine that was a gift from Bacchus himself?