Vin Mariani

Vin Mariani (French: Mariani’s wine) was a tonic and patent medicine created circa 1863 by Angelo Mariani, a chemist who became intrigued with coca and its economic potential after reading Paolo Mantegazza’s paper on coca’s effects. Mariani started marketing a wine called Vin Tonique Mariani (à la Coca du Pérou) which was made from Bordeaux wine treated with coca leaves.

The ethanol in the wine acted as a solvent and extracted the cocaine from the coca leaves, altering the drink’s effect. It originally contained 6 mg of cocaine per fluid ounce of wine, but Vin Mariani which was to be exported contained 7.2 mg per ounce in order to compete with the higher cocaine content of similar drinks in the United States. Ads for Vin Mariani claimed that it would restore health, strength, energy, and vitality.

Vin Mariani was very popular in its day, even among royalty such as Queen Victoria of Great Britain and Ireland. Pope Leo XIII and later Pope Saint Pius X were both Vin Mariani drinkers. Pope Leo awarded a Vatican gold medal to the wine, and also appeared on a poster endorsing it. Thomas Edison also endorsed the wine, claiming it helped him stay awake for longer hours. This tonic evidently inspired John S. Pemberton’s 1885 cocawine drink recipe called Pemberton’s French Wine Coca.

Later that year, when Atlanta and Fulton County passed prohibition legislation, Pemberton responded by developing a carbonated, non-alcoholic version of his French Wine Coca. The beverage was named Coca-Cola because the stimulants mixed in the beverage were coca leaves from South America and kola nuts, the beverage’s source of caffeine.

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