One day the horticulture class took a day trip to the quaint town of Montepulciano. The town itself is an ancient collection of brown and red buildings situated on a hilltop that can only easily be reached by bus. As a group, we got to tour a large underground wine cellar and have a subsequent wine tasting. As we walked through the underground system of manmade caves on our tour, it was easy to see how this process has endured over centuries, and how wine has served a major role in many different cultures.
While in class, we learned about how the Etruscans used wine during their time in Italy, how the Roman Catholic Church adopted the practice when they incorporated wine in communion, and how large the impact of wine is on Italian culture today. What interested me most about this lecture that was really brought to life on our trip to Montepulciano was how wine has served as a cultural connector, not divide, for literally hundreds of years. During Etruscan times, wine was safer to drink because it had less bacteria than most water sources. Wine was readily available and drunk often. In Roman times, on the other hand, wine was seen as a source of adultery when consumed by a woman. This stigma disappeared, though, when the Roman Catholic Church began to use wine in their acts of communion, solidifying wine’s role in the church for the foreseeable future as a way to connect spiritually.
For better or for worse, wine has been a prominent part of Italian life for hundreds of years. Today, consuming wine is a way to appreciate the centuries-old process and enjoy time with friends or family. While in Montepulciano, our tour of the ancient wine cellar gave me the visual connection I needed to see the centuries-long impact of wine.