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Let’s Play An Ancient Greek Wine Drinking Game!

Let’s Play An Ancient Greek Wine Drinking Game!

blog , Laurita Winery , wine news , Wine Weirdness 🕔February 28, 2018 0 comments

Everyone knows the ancient Greeks loved their wine. Hey, they had an entire god – Dionysus – devoted to wine, celebration, debauchery, and excess! (Our kind of people.)

Well it turns out that we’re not so unlike our ancient ancestors after all. See, the Greeks played drinking games!

Atlas Obscura has all the details about kottabos. (Along with some pretty crazy artwork by presumably drunk Greeks.)

The preferred way to play, which is the iteration often depicted in plays and especially on pieces of pottery, involved a pole. Players would balance a small bronze disk, called a plastinx, on top of it. The goal was to flick dregs of one’s wine at the plastinx so that it would fall, making a clattering crash as it hit the manes, a metal plate or domed pan that lay roughly two-thirds down the pole.

The players would lounge on couches placed around the pole and take turns launching wine at the plastinx. Some people even built round rooms especially for kottabos.

A less common version of the game featured players aiming at a number of small bowls, which floated in water within a larger basin. In this case, the object of the game was to sink as many of the small bowls as possible with the same arcing shots.

The second version of the game is less loud, and probably less messy.

Picture it. A group of people spread around a center pole, flinging wine. It’s easy to imagine most of the competitors would end the event dripping while sipping. It would also likely get harder to hit the target, the longer the game went on and the more the players had to drink.

Nonetheless, these were not high stakes contests. A winner might typically receive a sweet as a prize. Playing for kisses or other favors from attending courtesans (hetairai, as they were called) was also a possibility.


There are a lot of modern elements here. Hints of beer pong, quarters, and even spin the bottle.

So what do you think? Up for a round of kottabos at your next party? (Come to think of it, you might want to wait until it’s warm enough to party outside, considering the potential mess.)

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