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Ancient Rome played a pivotal role in the history of wine. The earliest influences on the viticulture of the Italian peninsula can be traced to ancient Greeks and the Etruscans. The rise of the Roman Empire saw both technological advances in and burgeoning awareness of winemaking, which spread to all parts of the empire. Rome's influence has had a profound effect on the histories of today's major winemaking regions in France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain.
The Roman belief that wine was a daily necessity made the drink "democratic" and ubiquitous; in various qualities, it was available to slaves, peasants and aristocrats, men and women alike. To ensure the steady supply of wine to Roman soldiers and colonists, viticulture and wine production spread to every part of the empire. The economic opportunities presented by trading in wine drew merchants to do business with tribes native to Gaul and Germania, bringing Roman influences to these regions even before the arrival of the Roman military. Evidence of this trade and the far-reaching ancient wine economy is most often found through amphorae – ceramic jars used to store and transport wine and other commodities.The works of Roman writers – most notably Cato, Columella, Horace, Catullus, Palladius, Pliny, Varro and Virgil – have provided insight into the role played by wine in Roman culture as well as contemporary understanding of winemaking and viticultural practices. Many of the techniques and principles first developed in ancient Roman times can be found in modern winemaking.