Italian wine legend from Montefiascone

Est! Est! EstThis centuries old legend has been used to secure the fame of winemakers from the commune of Montefiascone in the province of Viterbo (Latium). This story has numerous versions, but the gist of it is that a certain bishop sent a servant to find out whether the wine in certain towns is good or not. This information was to be used for planning the bishop’s trips. Since Latin has always been the language of choice for the Roman Catholic Church, the bishops query could be formulated: “Vinum bonum est?” Whenever the servant discovered that the wine in a particular place was good, the answer was “Est!” (“It is!”) According to the legend, the wine in Montefiascone was so excellent that the servant’s unequivocal response was: “Est! Est! Est!”

One version of the story adds an grim detail. The bishop loved the wine so much that he drank himself to death. The servant came up with a clever epitaph, Propter EST Dominus meus mortuus est, Because of (IT) IS, my lord is dead. Here is the complete legend in Latin:

Qui nimia vini ingurgitatione in monte Faliscorum mortuus est. Nam habebat prò more, dum iter faceret, ut semper famulum praemitteret, qui de hospitiis quaereret, quae melioribus vinis essent instructu {sic), ne forsitan in illa re falleretur. Adveniens igitur ex famulo quaesivit Episcopus, an esset bonum vinum. Famulus, ut bonitatem vini eo magis exprimeret, respondit: Est, Est! et vocem duplicavit. Mortuo igitur Episcopo, famulus tale posuit epitaphium: Propter Est Dominus meus mortuus est.

See also: Italian wine code.

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