vin mariani, the sparkle of life    Ange-Francois Mariani was born in Corsica in 1838. When he was a child, his father died and they sent him to Paris to live with his family there. He studied Chemistry and he worked as an assistant at a laboratory for a short period of time. He did not keep that job very long because in 1863, he began to work on the product that made him rich. When the Corsican chemist heard of a plant called Coca, this is what he wrote: “If coca has achieved in Peru all the things people say it has, it will do the same in Paris. With a bit of luck I will be able to plant Coca leaves in my garden at home”. At his place in Paris, his Coca plants did not grow up properly though; however, South-America began to export tons of Coca leaves and after mixing them with the wine from Bordeaux, Marinari began to produce a wine baptized by the name of Vin Mariani. This enlightening drink became famous very quickly. This is what contemporary ads used to say: “New and strong life. Curative and stimulating wine, it gives you strength, freshness and a desire to live. There is no wine, but Vin Mariani, that could make you feel physically and mentally better; instantaneous improving lasting effects. This statement is based on a document signed up by 7000 doctors and on tests from hospitals, public and religious institutions for 30 years”.
The Pope Lion XIII gave Ange-Francois Mariani permission to make use of his image and the Pope even gave him a golden medal because the drink he made up gave the Pope strength in his ascetic retreat. Lion XIII was not the only famous consumer of Vin Marinari. Among others, Émile Zola, Paul Verlaine, Sigmund Freud, José Martí, Jules Verne, Thomas A. Edison, Alexandre Dumas, Brothers Lumière, Henrik Ibsen, Sarah Bernhardt, Robert L. Stevenson, the Prince of Wales, Queen Victoria, Czar Alejandro II, Alfonso XIII, the Shah of Persia, and a long etc. were caught in the enlightening effects of Vin Marinari and became its regular consumers. Mariani also produced several non-alcoholic beverages, pills and herbal teas. The Corsican chemist died in 1914, the year in which his coca wine was forbidden, at the beginning of the IWW, when they started to investigate on the addictive effects of Hydrochloric Cocaine (and maybe, when they realized that because of its illegality, they could make more profit with it).
Nevertheless, the career of this product did not stop there. The Vin Mariani enterprise opened new businesses in Argentina, Egypt, Indochina, Canada and the United States of America. And even today, Vin Mariani formula is still alive. In 1988, a cooperative from Cochamba, Bolivia, began to produce Coca Wine with the logo “ideal for sportsmen and singers”.