History of Wine
This page provides an annotated list of most History of Wine posts that appear in this blog. This will allow both wine lovers and historians direct access to posts of interest. These posts primarily focus in on the History of Wine in America and the History of Wine in Europe. All of these posts feature original work of high scholarly standard. For visual satisfaction I often post a daily image related to the history of wine. These images are sourced using a wide variety of archives from around the world. This annotated page is updated less frequently than I publish the posts. To stay up to date you may find more posts by myself and others at:
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George Washington, Madeira, and Claret
There is much to be learned from George Washington’s interest in wine. Madeira was his favorite wine and though it is commonly know that Madeira was the wine of America in the 18th and 19th centuries, it was not always so easy to procure. I examine this subject in the talk I gave at Mount Vernon “The last bottle had been broached”: George Washington’s Efforts to Secure Choice Old Madeira During the Revolutionary War and Afterwards. George Washington typically enjoyed old London Particular quality Madeira. On two occasions he received London Particular that departed Madeira for India before returning to America. The long journey in warmer climates heated the Madeira in the holds of the ships. This was found to favorably improve the Madeira and George Washington was willing to pay the premium. Find out more in my post “shipped by M. Pintard to the E. Indies in ’93”: George Washington’s India Madeira Wine.
George Washington also drank first growth Bordeaux. From his orders we may glean a little more beyond the 1784 vintage that Thomas Jefferson made famous. I take a look at one vintage in “old wine of Lafitte”: George Washington’s order of 1786 Chateau Lafite.
The Wine Boom and the History of the California Barrel Tasting 1969-1986
It is long held that the Judgement of Paris tasting held by Steven Spurrier during May 1976 launched the California wine revolution. Two months earlier Gerald Asher held his First Annual California Vintners Barrel Tasting Dinner in New York City. Both of these events took place because of the American Wine Boom which began in 1969. This boom in curiosity and consumption drove a rapid increase in vineyard planting and the opening of wineries in California. It also created incentive for other wine producing countries to gain access to the growing American market. In 1986, the second iteration of the California Barrel Tasting was held by MacArthur Beverages in Washington, DC. This event marked the first time California wines were offered as futures in direct competition with Bordeaux futures. I set the stage in my first post A History of the California Barrel Tastings: Part 1 “[N]o one will be able to hold California back”. The wine boom precipitated dramatic price increases for French wines in America which eventually led to two French wine scandals in the early 1970s. This would have been a great opportunity for Californian wines to grab a larger share of the American market but the wineries were not yet in a place to do so. Find out about this history in my post A History of the California Barrel Tastings: Part 2 “Anyone Who Can Squeeze a Grape Is Competing”. By 1975 the vineyards planted during the wine boom began to bear fruit. This marks the release of many new wines including those of the Monterey Vineyard Company. In an effort to secure the east coast markets, Gerald Asher began his Annual California Vintners Barrel Tasting Dinner in New York City. East coast stores were also stocking fine Californian wine. Californian wines were largely accepted by the time MacArthur Beverages held their first California Barrel Tasting in 1986. At this time Bordeaux prices were skyrocketing. With people looking to invest their money elsewhere they turned to California wine futures. This period is covered in my post A History of the California Barrel Tastings: Part 3 “Roll Out the Barrel”. It is informative to review the wines offered at the various barrel tastings. It is also interesting to see what was served at the various France versus California tastings. Check them out in my post A History of the California Barrel Tastings: Part 4 “[F]ine American wines can now hold their own with fine wines from France” The wines served at the early tastings. My historical research would not be complete without a long list of references. Here you go: A History of the California Barrel Tastings: Part 5 ‘WINE PRICES HAVE BEEN RIDICULOUS, OBSCENE, IMMORAL’ The Sources
Madeira in the years prior to the Declaration of Independence
It is widely repeated that Madeira was used to toast the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Two years ago I documented how there is no account of this actually happening in the post “Home Brew’d is best”: Historic Drinks at Independence Day and Revolutionary War Peace Celebrations. The first Madeira toast that I can find occured on Independence Day in 1783 when Charles Carroll hosted the Official State Celebration for Peace and Independence in Maryland. General George Washington was a guest. A major reason for the scarcity of toasts involving Madeira is that the Continental Congress boycotted the importation of Madeira wine during the fall of 1774. Any Madeira that did reach the American shores was liable to be seized and sold off. Colonists obeyed this order and Madeira sales plummeted. A second reason is that in June 1776, the Portuguese monarch aligned with the British and forbade Colonial ships from calling on Portuguese ports. One result is that George Washington and his family ran out of Madeira in 1779. I survey this period in my post “a Sloop…is taken by One of our Cruizers, so Wine, & Punch will not be wanting to the Sons of Liberty. Let the Sons of Slavery get them how they can”: Madeira in the years prior to the Declaration of Independence.
Two historic vineyards at BathMy interest in the 17th and 18th century vineyards of England was captured through reading about vines sent to colonies in America, the return of botanic specimens, and accounts of English wine sold for profit in Jakatra. This is a period of great development in landscape architecture with a corresponding rise of nurserymen. I cannot help but wonder where the vines for the various vineyards were sourced from, were any landscape architects or nurserymen involved, and even wonder what the wine tasted like. I plan to publish a post for each English vineyard from this period. I begin my series through describing the two historic vineyards at Bath. I detail a vineyard which survived for more than one century in “inform’d by Gentlemen who have drank considerable Quantities of it”: The vineyard at Claverton Manor. The second vineyard was located very close to the center of Bath. It produced wine for, perhaps, two decades. There are various explanations for its demise. Find out more in The Vineyard at Walcot near Bath.
The Rise of Wine Cookery
Cooking with wine fell out of favor in the 19th century partially due to the rise of flavor extracts and essences. It was not until the end of Prohibition in America and the start of recovery from the Great Depression in England, that wine cookery books were published during the 1930s. England soon fell into war after which rationing continued into the 1950s. Lean times meant that cooking with wine was considered a luxury so wine cookery books were not common. In America, the development of the Californian wine industry and the resumption of European wine imports after World War II meant there was new excitement about wine. I provide a survey of wine cookery books from the 1930s through the 1960s in the post “Wine Makes Food Taste Better”: Collecting wine cookery books. I take a focused look at wine cookery in books and newspapers during the first year after Prohibition in the post “The hold-over prohibitionist will shake his head in sorrow and disapproval”: The rise of wine cookery in 1934. In putting together these two posts I find there is no satisfying account of the history of using wine in cooking and the publication of wine cookery books during the 20th century. I have since ordered more books and know that I have my work cut out for me!
Accounts involving wine in the English language
Often times I experience great pleasure simply in reading old sources about wine. Inspired by several particular accounts I gathered up references involving bottles, pints, glasses, and even old wine. Regarding bottles please read “give him part of a Bottle of Wine, it being his Birth Day”: Twelve accounts involving a bottle of wine. You may learn something new in From “socket money” to “unnatural kisses”: Twelve accounts involving a pint of wine. There were many quarrels involving glasses of wine as I reveal in A deadly glass of wine. In moving from the Proceedings of the Old Bailey to the correspondence of John Adams, I certainly laughed in “I love old Wine old Cheese, old Tobacco and old Woman.” : Old wine in the correspondence of the Adams family.
The debut of the Library Company Madeira and the role of the Madeira shipper Lamar, Hill, & Bisset with American Connoisseurs
The Madeira-filled weekend of Saturday, October 17, 2015, saw the unveiling of the latest Historic Series Madeira produced by Mannie Berk, The Rare Wine Co and Ricardo Freitas, Vinhos Barbeito. This new Madeira honors the Library Company of Philadelphia which is the oldest successful library in America having been founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1731. The ties between the Library Company and Madeira are rich over the course of history. Not only did the 18th century board members purchase oysters by the hundreds and London Particular by the gallon but today the stacks hold the correspondence of the Hill Family. The Hill family were extensive participants in the Madeira trade through the shipping house, catering to the affluent and powerful families of America for much of the 18th century. I was fortunate to read through a sampling of the Hill correspondence from which I gave a talk about The Role of the Madeira Shipper in Relation to American Connoisseurs: The Case of Henry Hill. For brief details about the weekend please see Debut of the Library Company Madeira this Saturday in Philadelphia.
The lost history of Pommery Champagne in AmericaPommery is renowned for popularizing what is regarded as the first Brut or dry style of Champagne in the late 19th century. At the time, customers in different countries preferred their Champagne at different levels of sweetness. It was the 1874 Pommery Nature, which contained no dosage, that was exclusively shipped to England where it took the country by storm. Lost amongst the history of this new Brut style of Champagne is the fact that two years earlier Pommery Sec was introduced to America. The Sec cuvee rapidly became synonymous with luxury taste in America. Nearly a century later, I was able to taste a mid-20th century bottling of this wine. Inspired by my glass I investigate this history in the post “For Summer Houses, Yachts, and Camps”: An old bottle of the classic Pommery Drapeau Americain Sec. The first time I tried old Pommery Champagne occurred many years ago. While the bottle was undrinkable, the history behind it is fascinating. I relate a royal story in “The champagne will be Pommery; the gowns and perfume by Lanvin-Castillo”: My first experience with old Champagne.
An early history of the corkscrew
Most histories of the corkscrew state that the earliest reference was noted in the 1681. This is when Nehemiah Grew compared a “worme-stone” to that of “a Steel Worme used for the drawing of Corks out of Bottles.” Then there is the typical jump forward to Reverend Samuel Henshall’s first patented corkscrew of 1795. This one century jump in chronology hides the fact that corkscrew use was widespread, they were much beloved, and even stolen. I look at this ignored history in the post “This hand a Cork-scrue did contain”: From a worm to The Durand.
Online Posts and Articles on the History of Wine
For the last several months I have been aggregating links to posts, articles, images, and videos about the History of Wine. My inspiration stems from all of the online historians who seem to explore every aspect of the history food, science, medicine, and society. These historians have formed vibrant communities on Twitter and Facebook that promote and aggregate these posts. I believe the history of wine is a rich subject that touches on social history, medicine, science, gardening, and art. Please help me promote international efforts by sending in links. To read more from June and July please see Online Posts and Articles on the History of Wine: #1. To read more from August please see Online Posts and Articles on the History of Wine: #2. September’s posts are gathered at Online Posts and Articles on the History of Wine: #3. October’s posts are gathered at Online Posts and Articles on the History of Wine: #4. You may view November’s history posts at Online Posts and Articles on the History of Wine: #5. History of wine posts from December and January are consolidated in Online Posts and Articles on the History of Wine: #6. February’s history of wine posts may be found at Online Posts and Articles on the History of Wine: #7.
The Majesty of Malvasia
On April 11, 2015, I attended The Majesty of Malvasia tasting. This was the fourth in a series of definitive annual Madeira tastings organized by Mannie Berk (The Rare Wine Co.) and Roy Hersh (For The Love of Port). I was invited to write an article on Malmsey in America for the tasting booklet. You may find a variation of that article in my post “Very rich and old”: Malmsey in America at the turn of the 19th century. The tasting itself was comprised of 20 wines spanning vintages from 1882 back to 1808 soleras. You may read about the color of Malmsey and my tasting notes in the post “[W]hen of the best kind, a most delicious wine.” An historic 19th century Malvasia Madeira tasting . After six hours tasting Madeira I sat down to dinner where the wines reached back to the 1920s. I managed to take notes and pictures from a portion of the wines which I feature in The Majesty of Malvasia Dinner: Tasting vintages from 1926 through 2002.
The Forgotten Wine Columns of Jane NickersonJane Nickerson was the first food editor at The New York Times from 1942 through 1957. She wrote frequently and extensively about food in all forms but she also wrote about wine. Incredibly, her contributions to wine journalism have been ignored. I set the scene in “[W]arm weather is on us, and what better refreshment than a cold sparkling wine”: The forgotten wine columns of Jane Nickerson from the 1940s and 1950s which is the first in a series of posts. Stay tuned for more about her interactions with Frank Schoonmaker, Alexis Lichine, James Beard, Sam Aaron, and Robert Haas.
The Bombing of Halle Aux Vins at the end of World War IIThis spring Roy Hersh post a picture of a 1927 vintage Port bottle. A portion of this vintage was destroyed when London warehouses were bombed during the war. Inspired by this picture I chart similar damage when “bottles exploded, sending showers of glass into the air”: The 1944 German bombing of the Halle aux Vins after the Liberation of Paris.
The History of the 100-point Wine Scale
It appears that most wine writers believe that Robert Parker not only promulgated but invented the 100-point wine rating scale. Incredibly, the scale was in use beginning in 1853 by the American Wine Grower’s Association of Ohio. The scale was implemented in order to evaluate experimental wines made from other vines in an effort to replace the increasingly diseased Catawba vines. I outline this effort in my post “Assuming 100 to be the standard for best”: The 100-point wine scale predates Robert Parker’s by 125 years. The spread of the 100-point scale follows the rise of state horticultural societies interested in the cultivation of vineyards and production of wine. I describe this spread to California, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Missouri in my post “That we may know the relative value of their own manufacture”: The spread of the 100-point wine scale in late 19th century America.
The wine houses of Washington, DC, 1880-1910
A century ago residents of greater Washington, DC, did not need to travel far to drink the local wine. As late as 1910, people would ride three to four miles north of downtown to one of several wine houses. A wine house was a place to drink homemade wine on private property. These establishments operated without license because it was commonly believed none was needed if the wine was made from grapes grown on the property. Many of the wine houses were located near the Soldier’s Home and Catholic University of America. The most famous was Rosie’s Wine House which faced increasing pressure to be licensed or close. I describe this untold history in my post When vineyards were just miles from the U.S. Capitol: The wine houses of Washington, DC, 1880-1910.
Thanksgiving wine selectionsHenry W. Crabb’s wines from To-Kalon Vineyard were highly regarded in Washington, DC, during the end of the 19th century. So much so that the To-Kalon California Wine Vaults were opened in the city during 1885. These vaults had room for some 250,000 gallons of wine. When Henry W. Crabb’s son-in-law took over the vaults his new crack team began the annual tradition of advertising their wine for Thanksgiving. Residents of the city could read that “Thanksgiving Cheer is assured when To-Kalon Wines are served”: The To-Kalon Thanksgiving wine advertisements in Washington, DC. Thanksgiving wine advertisements disappeared during Prohibition with only a few newspaper articles recommending Thanksgiving wine in the 1930s and 1940s. It was in the late 1950s that Thanksgiving recommendations became common. I explore these articles in “Certain opinionated turkeys disdain red wines on Thanksgiving Day”: A history of Thanksgiving wine recommendations from the 1930s through 1970s. The wine recommendations that appeared in The Washington Post give no clue as to the vinous treasures that could be purchased in the city as I discover in “I wish I had a time machine!” : The rare Bordeaux and German offerings of MacArthur Beverages during Thanksgiving 1978.
Details of the wines of James Madison
James Madison’s passion for wine has largely been ignored most likely due to the overshadowing of the famous wine lover Thomas Jefferson by historians. However, James Madison ordered wine both together with and separate from Thomas Jefferson. By combing through the correspondence of James Madison, including bills of lading and inventories, I have discovered fantastic details related to wine. At the time wine was often stolen or adulterated during transit and bottles did not bear paper labels. To secure against theft and to identify why boxes, barrels, bottles, and even corks they were all marked. Find out more in the post “Marked on the cork”: The identification of James Madison’s wine. This history is exciting but we all, including James Madison, love[d] it for the aroma and flavor. James Madison recorded but few descriptions of what he drank so I do my best to piece together what was in the bottle in my post “[I]t will not be exceeded by an[y] Wine in the Universe”: Descriptions of James Madison’s Madeira.
Burgundy Classification Map of 1861This post features a fantastic color coded map that ranks the vineyards of Burgundy. Incredibly, this map predates Franz Josef Clotten’s Saar und Mosel Weinbau-Karte by seven years! Take a look at this wide beauty in Burgundy Classification Map of 1861.
The Old Chateau Bottled Wines at Chateau LafiteI find I must look wide when it comes to my research. One example occurred with a letter written by Mabel Hubbard Bell, the wife of Alexander Graham Bell. In 1888 she toured Bordeaux with the agent of Baron Rothschild. I present her details of the “sample cellar” at Chateau Lafite in my post “[E]ach grape was [c]ut off with scissors!” The early bottled vintages of Chateau Lafite. In Samples and specimens at Chateau Lafite I find additional descriptions of the private cellars as containing “collected vintages of every year from 1810 to the present time, nearly all of which were in bottle.” Additional details about the chateau bottlings at Ch Lafite may be found in Clarets and Sauternes (1920) and “Mise en bouteilles au Chateau”, Le Sommelier (1924). It is through the Goudal papers that we learn that some of the 1811 Comet vintage was bottled at Ch Lafite. Please read Mis en bouteilles au Chateau: The museum of wine at Chateau Lafite to find out more. When Chateau Lafite was sold to Baron James de Rothschild in 1868, the heirs of the owners reserved the right to sell the furniture and the wine. Baron Rothschild purchased half of the wine with the other half mostly going to M. Gremailly, proprietor of Hotel des Princes et de la Paix in Bordeaux. It turns out he displayed a number of bottles in his own wine museum. I detail this sale and a tasting note in the post The old bottled vintages sold at Chateau Lafite in 1868.
The History of Wine During the Civil WarThe history of wine during the Civil War is a fantastic subject for exploration. While I have yet to come across many photographs directly related to vineyard and wine, there are certainly plenty of accounts. In An unexpected encounter between vines and the Civil War we learn how Newt Finley and Sam Miller were dragged off of their horses by a grape vine as the fled a division of cavalry. Elsewhere in Missouri, The Boonville Winery survived the Civil War but not the railroad expansion of Californian wine. Perhaps due to the small size of the skirmishes both Union and Confederate soldiers enjoyed the grapes and wine of the winery. But the increased availability of Californian wine contributed to it going out of business. It turns out that William Heyser’s efforts at planting vines and making wine during the Civil War was plagued by destruction from soldiers, insects, and weeds.
I hope to eventually explore the topic of mental asylum vineyards. This is a parallel interest to the employment of prison labor in vineyards. In The vineyard at the Northern Michigan Asylum I show the vineyard and orchards were tended by the patients towards a goal of self-sufficiency. It is not yet clear if represented the physical manifestation of laboring in the Lord’s vineyard.
In the 20th Century the French Navy Carried Wine
The French navy allowed a red wine ration of a half liter per day per sailor. Even those who deployed underwater could drink wine as I show in “French Supersubmarine Is More Deadly Than Cruiser” and It Even Carried Wine.
The Burning of Washington City
Two hundred years ago during the War of 1812 between Great Britain and the Unites States of America, British forces set fire to the Capitol and the President’s House. Before they torched the President’s House they consumed the dinner that Dolley Madison had set out. One British officer drank President James Madison’s Madeira finding it “super-excellent”. In commemoration of the burning I look into the destruction of the Presidential cellar and take a look at the wines drunk by James Madison. Please read more at The 200th Anniversary of the Burning of Washington and the Destruction of President James Madison’s Choice Wines. To commemorate this 200th anniversary I collaborated on a fantastic project with Mannie Berk (Rare Wine Co.) and Meg Kennedy (The Montpelier Foundation) to recreate the Madeira that the British drank before the burning. This wine is called Mr. Madison’s Madeira.
Independence Day Drinks and Toasts
It is commonly repeated that the signing of the Declaration of Independence was toasted with Madeira. While this has not been established as fact a tradition of thirteen toasts developed as part of a celebration with gunfire and fireworks. In the post “Home Brew’d is best”: Historic Drinks at Independence Day and Revolutionary War Peace Celebrations I reveal how these celebratory toasts were performed with American beer, cider, punch, and even Madeira. The actual celebratory toasts were often published in newspapers. Please read my post to find Four Toasts for Independence Day and an American Wine to Fill Your Glass With.
The Early History of Sommelier and Wine
There is surprisingly little written about the history of sommeliers. The few posts out there state that sommeliers became important after the Revolution in France due to the development of restaurants. I have yet to reach the 18th century but in my post “[S]mashed [the bottles of wine] publically and then left him for dead”: The Early Association of Sommelier with Wine I look at the 16th and 17th centuries. In doing so I demonstrate how a sommelier was defined as someone who dispensed wine during the 1630s in France and the 1670s in England. I also suggest that sommelier stems from the role of carrying wine, amongst other drinks and food items, in fields for lords, princes, and kings.
The 70th Anniversary of D-Day
Seventy years ago Bayeux was liberated by the Allies. “Everywhere the overjoyed people brought out choice red and white vintages that they hidden in their cellars” to toast their liberators. Find a period description in my post “Allied artillery, providing a grim background, hammered the enemy” While Celebrating the Liberation of Bayeux with Wine.
It has been claimed that Thomas Jefferson was the first to import Chateau Haut-Brion into the United States in 1787. It turns out he was not the first. In my post Chateau Haut-Brion, Available in the United States for 250 Years I reveal that Walter Shee and Sons of Philadelphia, PA, imported Chateau Haut-Brion in 1764. This was before the formation of the United States so the wine came from England instead of France as when Thomas Jefferson imported it. The first advertisement for the wine in England was published in May 1705 in The London Gazette. Most scholars cite this publication ignoring the fact that the advertisements appeared in The Daily Courant , The Guardian, The Spectator, and The Tatler. To learn more about these ads and what the wine may have tasted like please read “A finer Flower was never drank”: A Look at Early Advertisements of the Wines of Chateau Haut-Brion 1705-1717. In the mid 1860’s Pierre Aussel and Alfred Danflou published several volumes detailing the top estates in Bordeaux. I present their historic photographs of these grands crus in As the Crow Flies: Historic Images of “Les Quatre Premiers Grands Crus du Medoc”.
17th Century Canadian Wine History
The early history of winemaking in Canada certainly deserves more attention. Realizing that I am short on time but rich on references, I provide an account of winemaking using native grapes in “our Vat was a Bark-Pail”: An Account of 17th Century Wine Making in Canada. This wine “prov’d very good”.
The Secret History of WineThere is a diverse array of sources that help our understanding of the history of wine. One of the sources are the declassified files of the Central Intelligence Agency. In my post “I…had drunk a bottle of wine…After that I remembered nothing.”: An Encounter with Soviet Secret Police I reveal how wine forms an important part of the narrative relied on by a man detained in 1961 by the Soviet secret police. Former CIA Director Allen W. Dulles received several bottles of wine from Phillip Wagner of Boordy Vineyards. Their brief correspondence is detailed in my post The Secret History of Wine: CIA Director Allen W. Dulles and Boordy Vineyards.
Hawaiian WineBy chance I spotted an empty bottle of wine produced by Jose Gomes Serrao at his Kaumana vineyard in Hilo. I investigate this bottle in my post “[T]erraced mountain sides with vineyards like those of Madeira, Vesuvius and Etna” : Jose Gomes Serrao’s Hawaiian Wine. I describe the early vineyard and wines of Don Francisco de Paul Marin and the early efforts of the Hawaii Agricultural Experiment Station.
Historic Images from Revue de ViticultureIn time for the annual La Paulee de San Francisco I published several pictures and a song from a La Paulée celebration some 100 years ago. Find the lyrics in my post La Paulée circa 1905. In my post Historic Images of Coopers I present images of the men and their tools that fabricated barrels nearly a century ago. I was very excited to find historic images of Moet & Chandon labeled paniers. I describe the Champagne harvest and present these pictures in Historic Images of the Moet & Chandon Harvest circa 1899.
Joseph Swan Vineyards
As the guest of Mannie Berk, The Rare Wine Co., I was able to taste through an incredible range of wines from Joseph Swan Vineyards. Inspired by the lovely glass of 1973 Trenton Estate Pinot Noir I investigated the history of the winery and the region. Back in the 19th century Zinfandel reigned king and the area was famous for “[S]oil of nearly absolute perfection in every particular”: An Historic Tasting of Joseph Swan Vineyards.
In 1803 Samuel Corbin wrote to James Madison that “The wine mentioned…is on the ground floor of the Capitol” in Virginia. Unfortunately what the wine was comprised of and what happened to it remains a mystery. I always have a look out for the early history of Constantia wine. While we may only guess that George Washington drank his case of Constantia wine we know from diary entries that John Adams Drank Constantia Wine in Spain. Another diary entry from this same period in Europe inspired the post “One would think there was not Earth enough for the Vines to take root.” John Adam’s Observation on the Vineyards of Angoulème. Thomas Jefferson is credited with classifying the wines of Bordeaux in 1787. Early correspondence between John Bondfield and James Madison reveals a three-tiered classification in existence several years prior. I describe this previous history in the post “I am in great distress for want of it, having none”: John Adam’s Inquiries about Bordeaux Wines Prior to Thomas Jefferson’s Classification of 1787.
The History of Rioja
In an effort to learn more about the beginnings of French-influenced Rioja wine I am beginning to look at the very early years of the Medoc-Alvesa project as well as the Oenological Research Station at Haro. Some of this history and related images are detailed from the perspective of a 1922 Marques de Riscal, Rioja Reserva I drank with Mannie Berk of the Rare Wine Co. You may read more at “um pronunciado perfume de violeta” : From Madeira to Ancient Rioja with Mannie Berk. In continuing my inquiries into the history of Rioja I Query About Primary Sources Describing Multi-Vintage Blends in Rioja and the Rest of Spain.
Historic Tables and ListsIt can be fun to present the history of wine in smaller posts. This group reflects the caloric value of different wines, selections of valuable Madeira, and a table of insects drowned in wine in the pursuit of science. In “The Wine smiles in the Glass” : Vinous Phrases In “Present Use” Back In 1701 I present ten vinous phrases which reflect the delights of wine and the effects of drinking too much. In the post The Calories in Wine as Part of Field Rations During World War I I determine that wine account for 3.8% to 8.0% of a soldier’s daily calories. Greek wines were considered to have the highest caloric value in The Consideration of the Calories and Alcohol Content of Wine in Treating Tuberculosis and Diabetes. I transcribe seven historic tasting notes including Feher Szagos and Grossblaue in Historic Tasting Notes for Californian Wines From the Early 1880s. During the winter of 1741 the wine of Captain Middleton frozen solid as revealed by the post “In the shortest Space of Time he is froze” : The Effects of Cold on Wine at Hudson’s Bay. The Top Ten Wine Producing States in 1880 as Compared to 2012 reveals the production for Ohio has remained nearly unchanged. For nearly 100 years Chateau d’Yquem has remained one of The Ten Most Expensive Bordeaux Wines on Three Wine Lists From 1918, 1987, and 2014. In 1794 John Gough concluded that flies submerged in Madeira die contrary to Ben Franklin’s belief in “The supposed Revival of Insects after long Immersion in Wine”. The Germans kept vintage records for centuries upon centuries. One particularly inventive and colorful table of vintages appears in the post Buy 1684, avoid 1687: An Historic German Vintage Chart. I suspect the most important table I have published appeared on February 11, 1816, in The London Literary Gazette. The Table of the principal known Wines, and of the Quality of Alcohol in Wines (1826) is amongst the earliest examples of comprehensive English tasting notes.
Wine on Draft
Wine on draft may be trending right now but it first appeared some 180 years ago when a Champagne Fountain was opened on Park Row in New York City. Later, three different wines were served on draft at the Metropolitan Hotel in New York during July 1859. Find out more in “a great deal better than cracking a whole bottle”: A Brief History of Wine on Draft.
Old Bottles and Cellars of Madeira
I have recently become interested in the history of Madeira through investigating The Hidden Madeira of the South Carolina Jockey Club. The historic American newspapers are full of advertisements for the auction and sale of Madeira. In the post The Sale of Old Madeira During the Post Civil War Decades I look beyond the bottles of the South Carolina Jockey Club. I take a broad look at the many cellars of old Madeira which were purchased in Washington, DC and up along the Atlantic coast. I focus in on a significant auction of old Madeira in the post The 1843 Auction of Thomas Bloodgood’s Old Madeira. In “Choice old Madeira”: The Early Vintages of Philadelphia I look at what exactly was meant by “old” in mid 18th century Philadelphia. The post Madeira at the Heublein Premiere National Auctions of Rare Wines 1969-1981 complements the list of “Madeiras at Auction 1971-2010″ in the second edition of Noel Cossart’s Madeira The Island Vineyard. In Madeira Selections from American Wine Lists, 1851-1866 I present transcriptions of 12 wine lists which contain such wines as Black Dwarf and Robbin’s Coffin. Several historic Madeiras such as Blackburn, Bramin, and Wandered were analyzed for content as I reveal in The Alcohol Content of Blackburn, Brammin, and Wanderer Madeira as Well as Palmer and Margaux in 1835. Reading and write about Madeira is thirsty work. I combine both in “[C]hoice Madeira Wines”: Boston Bual from The Rare Wine Company.
Wine and the Sea
In August 2013, Erin Scala (Thinking Drinking) and I set out to encourage researched posts about the history of wine. To do so we presented An Open Invitation For Posts about Wine and the Sea. Three months later the posts are being published this weekend. You may find the lists of posts, including mine, below.
Dorit Handrus – Wine and the Sea
Graham Harding (Wine As Was) – ‘On the scale from riches to ruin’: the cargo of champagne in R.L.Stevenson’s Ebb-Tide
Frank Morgan (Drink What YOU Like) – “Wine and the Sea — Consider the Oyster”
Erin Scala (Thinking Drinking) – Wine and the Sea: Aphrodite Rising
Adam Zolkover (Twice Cooked) Madeira, Wine, and the Sea
The Early History of the Vine and Wine in Maryland with a bit of Delaware and New York too.
The history of wine in Maryland is typically introduced by claiming Tenis Pale, a member of the New Albion Colony, produced the first wine in 1648. The century is concluded with mention of Lord Baltimore’s instruction to plant a 200-300 acre vineyard. In my post The Early Grapes and Wines of Maryland and New York I determine that Tenis Pale made wine in Delaware and not Maryland. In the post “this autumne I have drank wine made of the wilde grapes” : A Detailed Look at 17th Century Winemaking in Maryland I describe a local wine Father Andrew White tasted in 1637. I then clarify the history of the Calvert vineyard in the 1660s and 1670s. Lastly, I discover that Augustine Herrman had a vineyard in the 1680s. The 18th century focuses in on Colonel Benjamin Tasker, Jr., who planted a vineyard in 1755 or 1756 from which he bottled the 1759 vintage. Governor Horatio Sharpe informed Lord Baltimore of his plans to cultivate the grape in 1767. Most importantly, Charles Carroll planted a vineyard in Howard County which survived from 1770 to 1796. In the post An Example of Colonial Winemaking Located in What was Briefly Maryland I detail the efforts of Colonel John Jones who discovered a new grape vine from which he produced wine in 1768. Charles Carroll asked for rooted plants of these vines in 1777. The 19th century revolves around John Adlum’s vineyard at Havre de Grace. In my post The 19th Century Vineyards of Washington County, Maryland and the Earliest Documented American Ice Wine I detail the 19th century history of viticulture and vinification in Washington County and unearth a tasting note for George Heyer’s 1865 “after frost” Catawba.
The Early Vines and Vineyards of Washington, D.C.
John Adlum is famous for his Georgetown vineyard where he propagating vines and produced wine. Alexander Hepburn is known to have kept vines purchased by Thomas Jefferson destined for his vineyard at Monticello. Through my research I discover that there were several nurseries propagating the vine, as well as individual vineyards from which wine was occasionally produced. In Bombord, Lindsay, and Smith: The Early Vineyards of Washington, DC I introduce the vineyards of Colonel George Bomford’s Vine Hill, Adam Lindsay, and Samuel Harrison Smith. This post is followed up with a look at the different varieties cultivated in the city as described through the exhibitions of the Columbian Horticultural Society in the post The Cultivation of the Grapevine in Washington, D.C. 1834-1845. Finally, I present an overview of the nurseries and vineyards in the post “Cultivated with so much success”: The Vines and Vineyards of Washington, D.C. 1799-1833. For those curious about what types of wines were available for purchase in the federal city, I describe the selections of one merchant in “Near the President’s House”: The Advertisements of William Cox, Wine Merchant, Washington, DC 1826-1827. For a brief look at the types of Champagne available please read the first few paragraphs of Tasting Grower Champagne at MacArthur Beverages. For a very short period the Azadia Vineyard of Dr. John B. Keasby realized the believe that the hills of Washington, DC, could produce favorable wine. Find out where some 1300 gallons of wine were made during 1866 in my post “A great field is open for the wine-grower in the vicinity of Washington”: The brief success of Azadia Vineyard in Washington, DC 1863-1869.
Constantia Wine and George Washington
The discovery of a Constantia wine bottle seal at the Roosevelt Island Shipwreck establish that the rare Constantia wine made it to the shores of America between 1772 and 1800. In February 1778, Isaac Gouverneur sent a case of Constantia wine from Curaçao to General George Washington who received it in May 1778. Gouverneur described the wine as “an excellent Stomachick” potentially confusing it with the inferior maagwijn or stomach-wine. Though it cannot yet be definitely established that Washington drank Constantia wine I explore this possibility in the post General George Washington’s Curious Case of Constantia Wine. The post “curious white Constantia Cape Wine”: The Advertisement of Constantia Wine Through 1795 looks at the availability of Constantia wine in England and America. A post exploring the advertisements of Constantia wine in America, England, and New South Wales through 1827 is forthcoming. Before George Washington received his case of Constantia wine he may have drunk wine produced by the French garrison at Fort Presque Isle during December 1753. This is explored in the post “The Wine, as they dos’d themselves pretty plentifully with” : Major George Washington and the French Wine of the Ohio Valley.
Early Illustrations and Descriptions of the Grape Vine
A Visual History of 16th Century Herbal Illustrations of Vitis Vinifera presents a select group of images centered on the common European grapevine Vitis Vinifera. The exploration and colonization of Virginia and New France led to grapevines being sent back to Europe. In the post Early Descriptions of the Vines and Grapes of Virginia and Canada I explore the early scientific naming and illustration of the grapevines of Virginia and Canada. I present what might be the first color images of grape clusters in the post 17th Century Watercolors of John Tradescant’s Grape Clusters.
A Variety of Images
Wine gauging is the task of measuring and calculating the volume of wine in cask. I show its evolution in the post A Visual History of Wine Gauging Tables. I briefly relate skulls, death, and injury in Four 18th Century Events Involving Wine Cellars. There is a body of historic publications where wine and science cross paths as problems to be solved. I take a very cursory look in Two Uses for Wine and Water. A Brief History of the Halles aux Vins in Paris describes the construction of the facility and includes several images, including one by Paul Cezanne.
Mushroom Wine Shops
A Party in a Peasant’s Cottage© IWM (Art.IWM ART LD 4794)
During the Second World War wine imports into England dramatically fell due to lack of transportation and the German occupation of wine producing regions. With the end of the war the demand for wine continued to outpace the supply so the Ministry of Food announced they would begin importing wine from the dominions and continental Europe. Outside of the legal wine trade the demand for wine was met by sales from private cellars, smuggling, theft, and adulterated wines. I take a look at the sales of wine in postwar London in the post Mushroom Wine Shops: Selling Wine to Meet the Postwar Needs of London.
Wine was historically stored in casks until it was drawn off into bottles. The lees slowly settled to the bottom of the cask and the lees-rich mixture of wine at the bottom of the cask was known as the dregs or the bottoms. I look at the descriptions of this wine and criminal prosecutions involving it in the post Bag Wine: Bottling Wine From the Bottom of the Cask.
The History of Natural Wine
The so called Natural Wine Movement has a beginning attributed to Jules Chauvet in 1970. However, the term itself has been used for centuries. I explore this history in An Early History of Natural Wine 1639-1906.
Murder and Thieves
“Murder and Thieves”: The theft of wine in London 1685-1799 is the first post in a four-part series where I analyzed the theft of wine in the Proceedings of the Old Bailey. The social history of wine is described in Part 1 “..twelve Bottles of Wine, the major Part of which, they drank”. An analysis of the types of wine stolen, which is highlighted with import statistics, appears in Part 2 “I tasted it, and found it to be red-port”. Finally, I attempt a bit of legal analysis in Part 3 “D-n my eyes, I am going out a house-breaking.”
Early Descriptions of the Wines of Carolina
I located two notes on the wines of Carolina, the first from the late 1680s and the second from 1700. These two descriptions are part of the earliest tasting notes of wine produced in the British Colony of Carolina and may be read in the post “Staining everything of so perfect a Crimson color”: Two Early Descriptions of Carolina Wine.
The First Vintages of the Colony of Virginia
While conducting research for my Murder and Thieves series of posts I came some interesting facts. In the post “Grapes Very Fair and Excellent Good”: The First Known Vintage in the Colony of Virginia I document how the Popham Colonists produced wine in 1607. I believe this fact has not been previously brought to light. I continue my analysis in “Vines in great Abundance”: The First Vintages of the Colony of Virginia to show that the wine produced by the Popham Colonists is the earliest documented vintage in the Colony of Virginia, even before Jamestown.
The Mystery of the Inglenook Cabinet Port
In January 2013, Clark and I shared an excellent bottle of Inglenook, California Cabinet Port, Special Reserve Limited Bottling, NV which we purchased at the Wild Ginger restaurant for $27. I describe this evening in the post Two Amazing Bottles: Charvin and Inglenook. Wondering about what we actually drank I immerse myself in The Mysterious Inglenook Cabinet Port. In Solving the Mystery of the Inglenook Cabinet Port I identify the vintage and origins of our bottle of wine.
The History of Canary Wine
Inspired by a few bottles of Canary wine I put together A Brief History of Wine from the Canary Islands. I look back from the 16th century to the 20th. I then explore The Medical Use of Canary Wine in 17th Century England where I provide several published remedies. I return to the early history in my post “Planted Among the Rocks” : Thomas Nichols 16th Century Descriptions of the Wines of the Canary Islands where I look at wine descriptions from the 1550s and 1560s.
The Imagery of Dionysos and the Vine in Ancient Greek Coins
Inspired by a glass of Sicilian wine I present a series of images in Greek Coins from Naxos, Sicily. I then expand my search by assembling a collection of images from Sicily as a whole in Other Greek Coins From Sicily. The post Grape Clusters On the Coins of Maroneia moves outside of Sicily to the location where Odysseus subdued the Cyclops Polyphemus with wine. I then expand to Thrace as a whole, finding only a handful of coins in The Grape Clusters of Ancient Thrace.
The Wine Glasses and Jugs of Georg Flegel
My series of posts about the 17th century Dutch history of wine illustrates the popularity of sweet German wine through images of Roemer and Berkemeyer wine glasses. Assuming that Baroque paintings often included objects found in the painter’s everyday life I decided to look at the wine related still-lifes of German Baroque painters in comparison with my Dutch posts. The Wine Related Still-Lifes of Georg Flegel contains an overview of still-lifes painted by Georg Flegel. I then focus on The Bartmann Jugs of Georg Flegel and dive a little deeper into The Mystery of Georg Flegel’s Serpentine Wine Glasses.
The Wines of Colonial Williamsburg
There are an extensive number of posts related to the wines of Colonial Williamsburg. The early posts look at the types of Wine Bottles of Colonial Williamsburg followed by The Varieties of Wine at Colonial Williamsburg. The later post is based on the estate inventories of John Marot (1717/18), Henry Bowcock (1729/1730), Henry Wetherburn (1760), and Francis Facquier(1771) and long advertisements from the Virginia Gazette. I then follow with a series of posts that are transcriptions from the Virginia Gazette which detail the efforts of Colonel Robert Bolling, Jr. and Andrew Estave. This includes such posts as “…a melancholy Description to the Injury done by the late Frost…” May 12, 1774 and “…has produced two bunches of grapes; a fact which would not be believed…” September 09, 1775. To view all of the posts please follow Colonial Williamsburg.
The Imagery and History of Wine in the Dutch Baroque
I start off my very post about the history of wine in “..and one shall drink good wine and eat all things that make the heart rejoice”. This was quickly followed by exploring The Dutch Wine Trade in the 17th Century and Dutch Wine Gauging in the 17th Century. I then turn towards art history providing an overview of images in Wine Related Dutch Painting of the 17th Century. I then analyze The Dutch Wine Glasses of Pieter Claesz providing extensive cropped images. I then explore the sheer beauty of Diamond Engraved Dutch Roemer Glasses of the 17th Century by assembling a group of images and descriptions. The images in this series of post remain some of the most popular on this blog.