Monday, January 3, 2011

Wine in literature

I am reading the book "The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England" by Ian Mortimer and it talks about the daily life of people living in 14th century England.

One of my interests is reading about English history....i'm a sucker for it.

I am really enjoying this book and wanted to share a few passages with you concerning wine in the 1300's of England.

" Most red wine drunk in England is from Gascony, the area around Bordeaux (although it is not yet called claret)."

"Twice as expensive is Rhenish wine, from the Rhine..."

"The wines of Rochelle and Spain -- such as Lepe, a strong Spanish white wine, or Osey, another Spanish white-- are comparable in price to that of Bordeaux."

"Cheapest of all is English wine, which is only ever white and normally half the price of Gascon wine. It is scarce, however. Most wine production in England is carried out by the nobility and clergy for their own use. It rarely appears in taverns. As taverns generally sell wine, not ale, they tend to be quite upmarket establishments. Given their numbers -- there are 354 of them in London in 1309 -- it is not surprising that they vary in quality. Their wine similarly varies. Establishments which sell poor wine tend to attract the rougher sort and are regularly closed down by the authorities."

"The wine itself is stored in a cellar, in its casks, and carried through to you at your table. In case you have any concerns about what you are drinking, ask to see the barrel. The taverner should keep his cellar door open at all times during opening hours and allow you to check the marks on the barrels. In London, prices are fixed by the authorities, so if you think you have been sold cheap wine in place of the best Rhenish vintages, you should be able to check and take the matter further. If guilty, the taverner will probably back down, knowing that if he is caught misselling his wine, he is liable to be fined or closed down, as well as being drawn to the stocks and having his own supply of wine poured over his head."

I kind of like the medieval justice system. I think if more towns had stocks and the frauds/liers were placed in them for a few hours...the embarrassment might stop the practice. I highly recommend this book if you are a history buff or interested in learning about Medieval practices.

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