Experimental recreation of 16th century wine

Palynological and enological characteristics





ancient wine, viticulture, palynology, food history, experimental archaeology


This project recreated 16th century wine following Charles Estienne’s recipe in L’agriculture et Maison Rustique (1570). The primary goal was to better understand enology from this period, through scientific analysis of wine made in a historical manner. The resulting wine had an ABV of 9.74%, 216.7 kcal per 12 fl. oz., and a pH of 3.8, with volatile aromas common in modern young white wine. A secondary goal was to compare pollen profiles from the wine and the vineyard from which the wine was produced. The wine contained Vitis as a major pollen type, unlike sedimentary samples from the vineyard. Together, we conclude that a wine produced in a traditional manner may be enologically compared to modern wines, and that the palynological characteristics will include Vitis but may not reflect vineyard conditions. The implications for the archaeological record as well as our understanding of 16th century European wine traditions are discussed.

Author Biography

Crystal A. Dozier, Wichita State University

Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology

Director, Archaeology of Food Laboratory

Wichita State University


Ahmedullah, M. 1986. “Pollen Morphology of Vitis Cultivars Using Scanning Electron Microscopy and the Significance of Pollen Classification in Grape Improvement Programme”. In Conference Proceedings, Vignevini Bolognia 13: 54–56.

Andreev, Andrei, Vladimir Nikolaev, Dmitrii Boi’sheiyanov and Vladimir Petrov. 1997. “Pollen and Isotope Investigations of an Ice Core from Vavilov Ice Cap, October Revolution Island, Severnaya Zemlya Archipelago, Russia”. Géographie Physique et Quaternaire 51(3): 379–89. https://doi.org/10.7202/033137ar

Arobba, Daniele, Francesca Bulgarelli, Federica Camin, Rosanna Caramiello, Roberto Larcher and Lucia Martinelli. 2014. “Palaeobotanical, Chemical and Physical Investigation of the Content of an Ancient Wine Amphora from the Northern Tyrrhenian Sea in Italy”. Journal of Archaeological Science 45: 226–233. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2014.02.024

Barlow, Edward. 1661. “Edward Barlow Journal (1656–1666)”. JOD/4/58. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.

Barnard, Hans, Alek N. Dooley, Gregory Areshian, Boris Gasparyan and Kym F. Faull. 2011. “Chemical Evidence for Wine Production around 4000 BCE in the Late Chalcolithic Near Eastern Highlands”. Journal of Archaeological Science 38(5): 977–984. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2010.11.012

Bottema, Sytze and Henk Woldring. 1990. “Anthorpogenic Indicators in the Pollen Record of the Eastern Mediterranean.” In Man’s Role in the Shaping of the Eastern Mediterranean Landscape, edited by Sytze Bottema, Gertie Entjes-Nieborg and Willem van Zeist, 231–64. Rotterdam: Balkema.

Bowes, K., A. M. Mercuri, E. Rattighieri, R. Rinaldi, A. Arnoldus-Huyzendveld, M. Ghisleni, C. Grey, M. Mackinnon and E. Vaccaro. 2015. “Palaeoenvironment and Land Use of Roman Peasant Farmhouses in Southern Tuscany”. Plant Biosystems – An International Journal Dealing with All Aspects of Plant Biology 149(1): 174–84. https://doi.org/10.1080/11263504.2014.992997

Breidahl, Tomas, Michael Christensen, Jørgen Riis Jepsen, Jens-Peter Johansen and Øyvind Omland. 2013. “The Influence of Ship Movements on the Energy Expenditure of Fishermen. A Study during a North Sea Voyage in Calm Weather”. International Maritime Health 64(3): 114–20.

Bryant, Vaughn M. and Richard G. Holloway. 1983. “The Role of Palynology in Archaeology.” Advances in Archaeological Method and Theory 6: 191–224. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-003106-1.50010-9

Cavalieri, Duccio, Patrick E. McGovern, DanielL. Hartl, Robert Mortimer and Mario Polsinelli. 2003. “Evidence for S. Cerevisiae Fermentation in Ancient Wine”. Journal of Molecular Evolution 57(1): S226–232. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00239-003-0031-2

Cremaschi, Mauro, Anna Maria Mercuri, Paola Torri, Assunta Florenzano, Chiara Pizzi, Marco Marchesini and Andrea Zerboni. 2016. “Climate Change versus Land Management in the Po Plain (Northern Italy) during the Bronze Age: New Insights from the VP/VG Sequence of the Terramara Santa Rosa Di Poviglio”. Special Issue: Mediterranean Holocene Climate, Environment and Human Societies 136(March): 153–172. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.08.011

Dickson, James. 1978. “Bronze Age Mead”. Antiquity 52(205): 108–113. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003598X00071921

Dozier, Crystal A. 2016. “Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Fermentation Effects on Pollen: Archaeological Implications”. Ethnobiology Letters 7(1): 32–37. https://doi.org/10.14237/ebl.7.1.2016.573

Drieu, Léa, Maxime Rageot, Nathan Wales, Ben Stern, Jasmine Lundy, Maximilian Zerrer, Isabella Gaffney et al. 2020. “Is It Possible to Identify Ancient Wine Production Using Biomolecular Approaches?”. STAR: Science & Technology of Archaeological Research March: 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1080/20548923.2020.1738728

Drummond, J. C. and A. Wilbraham. 1939. The Englishman’s Food: A History of Five Centuries of English Diet. London: Jonathan Cape.

Erdtman, Gunnar. 1934. “Über Die Verwendung von Essigsäureanhydrid Bei Pollenuntersuchungen.” Svenska Botanica Tiddskrift 28: 354–361.

Estienne, Charles. 1616. Maison Rustique, Or, The Countrey Farme. Compyled in the French Tongue by Charles Stevens, and John Lierbault, Doctors of Physicke. And Translated into English by Richard Surflet, Practitioner in Physicke. Now Newly Reviewed, Corrected, and Augmented, with Divers Large Addition, […] And the Husbandrie of France, Italie, and Spaine, Reconciled and Made to Agree with Ours Here in England. Translated by Gervase Markham. London: Printed by Adam Flip for John Bill.

Feier, Iwona, Aleksandra Migala, Marta Pietruszka and Mateusz Jackowski. 2019. “Roman Wine in Barbaricum. Preliminary Studies on Ancient Wine Recreation”. Heritage 2(1): 331–338. https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage2010022

Ferreira, Vicente, Purificación Fernández, Cristina Peña, Ana Escudero and Juan F Cacho. 1995. “Investigation on the Role Played by Fermentation Esters in the Aroma of Young Spanish Wines by Multivariate Analysis”. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 67(3): 381–392. https://doi.org/10.1002/jsfa.2740670316

Florenzano, A., M. Marignani, L. Rosati, S. Fascetti and A. M. Mercuri. 2015. “Are Cichorieae an Indicator of Open Habitats and Pastoralism in Current and Past Vegetation Studies?”. Plant Biosystems – An International Journal Dealing with All Aspects of Plant Biology 149(1): 154–165. https://doi.org/10.1080/11263504.2014.998311

Furnivall, F. J., ed. 1877. William Harrison’s Description of England in Shakespeare’s Youth. Bring the Second and Third Books of His Description of Britaine and England. Edited from the First Two Editions of Holinshed’s Chronicle, A.D. 1577, 1587. London: N. Trübner & Co.

Guasch-Jané, Maria Rosa, Cristina Andrés-Lacueva, Olga Jáuregui and Rosa M. Lamuela-Raventós. 2006. “First Evidence of White Wine in Ancient Egypt from Tutankhamun’s Tomb”. Journal of Archaeological Science 33(8): 1075–1080. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2005.11.012

Guasch-Jané, Maria Rosa, Maite Ibern-Gómez, Cristina Andrés-Lacueva, Olga Jáuregui and Rosa Maria Lamuela-Raventós. 2004. “Liquid Chromatography with Mass Spectrometry in Tandem Mode Applied for the Identification of Wine Markers in Residues from Ancient Egyptian Vessels”. Analytical Chemistry 76(6): 1672–1677. https://doi.org/10.1021/ac035082z

Guerra-Doce, Elisa. 2015. “The Origins of Inebriation: Archaeological Evidence of the Consumption of Fermented Beverages and Drugs in Prehistoric Eurasia”. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 22: 751–782. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10816-014-9205-z

Hamilton, Earl J. 1929. “Wages and Subsistence on Spanish Treasure Ships, 1503–1660”. Journal of Political Economy 37(4): 430–450. https://doi.org/10.1086/254039

Harrington, Spencer P. M. 2000. “Fine Wine & a Piss-Poor Vintage”. Archaeology, December 2000. https://archive.archaeology.org/0011/newsbriefs/wine.html

Harst, M., B.-A. Cobanov, L. Hausmann, R. Eibach and R. Töpfer. 2009. “Evaluation of Pollen Dispersal and Cross Pollination Using Transgenic Grapevine Plants”. Environmental Biosafety Research 8(2): 87–99. https://doi.org/10.1051/ebr/2009012

Heidenreich, Conrad E. and Nancy L. Heidenreich. 2002. “A Nutritional Analysis of the Food Rations Martin Frobisher’s Second Expedition, 1577”. Polar Record 38(204): 23–38. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0032247400017277

Indelicato, Mario. 2020. “Columella’s Wine: A Roman Enology Experiment”. EXARC.Net no. 2020/1. https://exarc.net/ark:/88735/10485

Jeandet, Philippe, Silke S. Heinzmann, Chloé Roullier-Gall, Clara Cilindre, Alissa Aron, Marie Alice Deville, Franco Moritz et al. 2015. “Chemical Messages in 170-Year-Old Champagne Bottles from the Baltic Sea: Revealing Tastes from the Past”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112(19): 58–93. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1500783112

Jennings, Justin, Kathleen L. Antrobus, Sam J. Atencio, Erin Glavich, Rebecca Johnson, German Loffler and Christine Luu. 2005. “‘Drinking Beer in a Blissful Mood’ Alcohol Production, Operational Chains, and Feasting in the Ancient World”. Current Anthropology 46(2): 275–303. https://doi.org/10.1086/427119

Jones, Gretchen D. and Vaughn M. Bryant. 1992. “Melissopalynology in the United States: A Review and Critique”. Palynology 16(1): 63–71. https://doi.org/10.1080/01916122.1992.9989407

Kelen, Mustafa and Ismail Demirtas. 2003. “Pollen Viability, Germination Capability and Pollen Production Level of Some Grape Varieties (Vitis Vinifera L.)”. Acta Physiologiae Plantarum 25(3): 229. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11738-003-0002-7

Killian, E. and C. S. Ough. 1979. “Fermentation Esters – Formation and Retention as Affected by Fermentation Temperature”. American Journal of Enology and Viticulture 30(4): 301.

Knight, C. 1825. The Diary of Henry Teonge, Chaplain on Board His Majesty’s Ships Assistance, Bristol, and Royal Oak, Anno 1675 to 1679. Now First Published from the Original Ms. with Biographical and Historical Notes. London: Printed for C. Knight.

Kvavadze, Eliso, Maia Chichinadze and Inga Martkoplishvili. 2010. “The Pollen Production and Yield in Vineyard of Kakheti According to the Results of Pollen Monitoring”. In Proceedings of the 33rd World Congress of Vine and Wine, 25–30. Tbilisi.

Kvavadze, Eliso, Antonio Sagona, Inga Martkoplishvili, Maia Chichinadze, Mindia Jalabadze and Irakli Koridze. 2015. “The Hidden Side of Ritual: New Palynological Data from Early Bronze Age Georgia, the Southern Caucasus”. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 2(0): 235–245. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2015.02.003

Lukacs, Paul. 2012. Inventing Wine: A New History of One of the World’s Most Ancient Pleasures. WW Norton & Company.

Lukic, Igor, Tomislav Plavša, Barbara Sladonja, Sanja Radeka and Dordano Peršuric. 2008. “Aroma Compounds as Markers of Wine Quality in the Case of Malvazija Istarska Young Wine”. Journal of Food Quality 31(6): 717–735. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-4557.2008.00230.x

McGovern, Patrick E. 2003. Ancient Wine: The Search for the Origins of Viniculture. 4th ed. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.

McGovern, Patrick E., Donald L. Glusker, Lawrence J. Exner and Mary M. Voigt. 1996. “Neolithic Resinated Wine”. Nature 381(6582): 480–481. https://doi.org/10.1038/381480a0

McGovern, Patrick E., Mindia Jalabadze, Stephen Batiuk, Michael P. Callahan, Karen E. Smith, Gretchen R. Hall, Eliso Kvavadze et al. 2017. “Early Neolithic Wine of Georgia in the South Caucasus”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114(48): E10309. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1714728114

McGovern, Patrick E., Benjamin P. Luley, Nuria Rovira, Armen Mirzoian, Michael P. Callahan, Karen E. Smith, Gretchen R. Hall, Theodore Davidson and Joshua M. Henkin. 2013. “Beginning of Viniculture in France”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110(25): 10147–10152. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1216126110

McGovern, Patrick E., Armen Mirzoian, Gretchen R. Hall and Ofer Bar-Yosef. 2009. “Ancient Egyptian Herbal Wines”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 106(18): 7361–7366. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0811578106

McGovern, Patrick E., Juzhong Zhang, Jigen Tang, Zhiqing Zhang, Gretchen R. Hall, Robert A. Moreau, Alberto Nuñez et al. 2004. “Fermented Beverages of Pre- and Proto-Historic China”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 101(51): 17593–17598. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0407921102

Mercuri, A. M., A. Florenzano, I. Massamba N’siala, L. Olmi, D. Roubis and F. Sogliani. 2010. “Pollen from Archaeological Layers and Cultural Landscape Reconstruction: Case Studies from the Bradano Valley (Basilicata, Southern Italy)”. Plant Biosystems – An International Journal Dealing with All Aspects of Plant Biology 144(4): 888–901. https://doi.org/10.1080/11263504.2010.491979

Moe, Dagfinn and Klaus Oeggl. 2014. “Palynological Evidence of Mead: A Prehistoric Drink Dating Back to the 3rd Millennium B.C.”. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 23(5): 515–526. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00334-013-0419-x

Montecchi, M. C. and A. M. Mercuri. 2018. “When Palynology Meets Classical Archaeology: The Roman and Medieval Landscapes at the Villa Del Casale Di Piazza Armerina, UNESCO Site in Sicily”. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 10(4): 743–757. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-016-0442-9

Muñoz-Rodríguez, A. F., R. Tormo and M. I. Silva. 2011. “Pollination Dynamics in Vitis Vinifera L.”. American Journal of Enology and Viticulture 62(1): 113–117. https://doi.org/10.5344/ajev.2010.10047

Naqinezhad, A., E. Ramezani, M. Djamali, A. Schnitzler and C. Arnold. 2018. “Wild Grapevine (Vitis Vinifera Subsp. Sylvestris) in the Hyrcanian Relict Forests of Northern Iran: An Overview of Current Taxonomy, Ecology and Palaeorecords”. Journal of Forestry Research 29(6): 1757–17568. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11676-017-0549-6

Pereira, Mafalda Reis, Helena Ribeiro, Mário Cunha and Ilda Abreu. 2018. “Comparison of Pollen Quality in Vitis Vinifera L. Cultivars”. Scientia Horticulturae 227(January): 112–116. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scienta.2017.09.038

Pérez-Coello, M. S., M. A. González-Viñas, E. Garcia-Romero, M. C. Diaz-Maroto and M. D. Cabezudo. 2003. “Influence of Storage Temperature on the Volatile Compounds of Young White Wines”. Food Control 14(5): 301–306. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0956-7135(02)00094-4

Pescini, V., C. A. Montanari and D. T. Moreno. 2018. “Multi-Proxy Record of Environmental Changes and Past Land Use Practices in a Mediterranean Landscape: The Punta Mesco Cape (Liguria – Italy) between the 15th and 20th Century”. Quaternary International 463: 376–390. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2017.03.060

Peters, Sera Jane. 1996. “Archaeological Wines: Analysis and Interpretation of a Collection of Wines Recovered from the ‘William Salthouse’ Shipwreck (1841)”. Australasian Historical Archaeology 14: 63–68.

Phuphumirat, Wongkot, Dallas C. Mildenhall and Choathip Purintavaragul. 2009. “Pollen Deterioration in a Tropical Surface Soil and Its Impact on Forensic Palynology”. The Open Forensic Science Journal 2(1). https://doi.org/10.2174/187440280090201003

Plessis, C. S. du. 1975. “Fermentation Formed Components in Relation to Wine Quality”. Proceedings in International Enology Symposium, 374–90.

Rösch, Manfred. 2005. “Pollen Analysis of the Contents of Excavated Vessels – Direct Archaeobotanical Evidence of Beverages”. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 14(3): 179–188. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00334-005-0015-9

Tanner, J. R. 1920. Samuel Pepys and the Royal Navy: Lees Knowles Lectures Delivered at Trinity College in Cambridge, 6, 13, 29 and 27 November, 1919. Cambridge: University Press.

Tickner, F. J. and V. C. Medvei. 1958. “Scurvy and the Health of European Crews in the Indian Ocean in the Seventeenth Century”. Medical History 2(1): 36–46. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0025727300023255

Tsai, Grace E. 2021. “Seventeenth-Century Shipboard Food and Nutrition”. Doctoral Dissertation, College Station, TX: Texas A&M University.

Turner, Simon D. and Antony G. Brown. 2004. “Vitis Pollen Dispersal in and from Organic Vineyards: I. Pollen Trap and Soil Pollen Data”. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 129(3): 117–132. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.revpalbo.2003.12.002

Wet, P. du. 1978. “Odour Thresholds and Their Application to Wine Flavour Studies”. Proceedings in South African Society Oenology and Viticulture 3–4: 72–77.

Wilson, C. Anne. 1991. Food & Drink in Britain: From the Stone Age to the 19th Century. Chicago Review Press.



How to Cite

Dozier, C. A. ., & Tsai, G. E. . (2021). Experimental recreation of 16th century wine: Palynological and enological characteristics. Archaeology of Food and Foodways. https://doi.org/10.1558/aff.17752