1 Drinks of ancients
The 12 gods may have drunk Nectar, however ordinary Ancient Greeks drank water, wine, milk and fruit juice. Chilled fruit juices along with milk and honey were drunk during the reign of Alexander the Great (4th century BC). Grape juice quickly became wine because there was no refrigeration or preservatives in antiquity. To dilute the wine, Greeks mixed five parts of water to two parts of wine. Sometimes honey was added to sweeten the wine and salt water also was added as flavouring. They believed that drinking undiluted wine could cause blindness or insanity.
2 The god of wine
Dionysus, also called Bacchus, was known as a god of wine, merriment and ecstasy.
3 Sacrifices to gods
In Ancient Greece, wine was offered as a sacrifice to the gods in times of celebration to ensure a good harvest. Dionysia was a large festival in ancient Athens in honor of the god Dionysus, the central events of which were the theatrical performances of dramatic tragedies and, from 487 BC, comedies. It was the second-most important festival after the Panathenaia. The Dionysia actually consisted of two related festivals, the Rural Dionysia and the City Dionysia, which took place in different parts of the year.
4 Drinking age
Ancient Greeks knew how to hold their liquor from a young age. Rites of passage included giving three-year-old children their first jug from which they sipped their first taste of wine.
The ancients drank from small shallow cups rather than large and deep ones. Known as kylix, they would mix the wine with water, and sometimes other flavourings. These vessels were often decorated with scenes of a light-hearted sexual nature which only became visible once the cup was drained of its liquor.
6 Drinking parties
Wine shops drew many men. There, strong syrupy wine was poured from an aphorae and diluted with water into a large mixing bowl. Symposiums were male drinking parties where men gathered.
Hippocrates thought drinking wine out of ice was not healthy. Greeks and Romans chilled their wine in snow kept in straw-lined pits.
Greeks drank a lot of wine, but consumed it with meals. They were social drinkers but not drunkards and they frowned on getting wasted. When it did happen they used a common hangover remedy recommended by poet Amphis from the 4th century BC. He pointed to boiled cabbage as a cure, however it was believed that eating a baked pig’s lung allowed one to drink a lot without getting drunk.
Kottoabis was one of the oldest drinking games, and even Socrates reportedly played it. The rules required the players to sit in a circle and fling dregs left over from a cup of wine at a target, usually a basin in the middle.
10 Different wines
Ancient Greek writers referred to wine as ‘sweet’, ‘dry’ or ‘sour’. There were white wines and black wines (equivalent of red wine today). The wine from Kos was good and relatively inexpensive. Higher quality wines came from Rhodes. Artemidorus described a drink called melogion which “is more intoxicating than wine” and “made by first boiling some honey with water and then adding a bit of herb.” Homer described a drink made from wine, barley meal, honey and goat cheese.