Ancient Rome and Wine

The Ancient Romans were a very skeptical bunch — and for good reason. Take for example the tradition of clinking wine glasses. This is something we don’t think about much today. We happily clink and drink without hesitation, but the “cheers” origin was not a friendly gesture. This method was used to make sure no one was trying to poison them. Wine glasses (not made of glass back then) were bumped hard enough to make the wine spill from one cup to the other. Apparently this whole poisoning thing was a big problem back then.

What About Greeting with a Kiss on Each Cheek?

Some cultures do the double cheek kiss to say hello. It is considered a friendly and often mandatory greeting by some people, but the origins of this are in Roman law and were not particularly friendly.

Double check kiss, Ancient Rome, breathalyzer
The Double Cheek Kiss. Image Source: I’m Just Sayin


Double Check with the Double Cheek Kiss

The double cheek kiss started as a double check. Roman law stated that men should double cheek kiss their wives when they greet them. Sounds beautiful and romantic, doesn’t it? Yeah, it’s not. This gesture was not done out of love, but to see if the woman’s breathe smelled of wine. If a wife smelled of wine, it meant they had partaken in too much wine. Ancient Roman men believed that too much wine for a woman resulted in immoral behaviour. We won’t discuss what the consequences were back then. It was certainly a different for women.

Today’s Kiss Tradition is Not Ancient Rome’s Breathalyzer Test

Fortunately, today the double cheek kiss is a friendly gesture, not a breathalyzer test. So go ahead, kiss each cheek and say hello!


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