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Two Uses for Wine and Water

July 25, 2013 2 comments

In researching for my latest History of Wine posts I came across two very different uses for vessels of water and wine.  Windy wine was apparently wine which still had some amount of sparkle to it from the carbon dioxide. There are a few references to this term.  One author implies it was relatively new wine, “Once, where the windy wine of spring makes mad.”[1]  In The Forsyte Saga George Forsyte liked this type of wine, “How am I looking? A bit puffy about the gills? That fixx old George is so fond of is a windy wine!”[2]  H. Van Etten studied mathematics at the University of Pont a Mousson.  In 1653 he published a book  dedicated to his uncle, Lord Lambert Verreyken of Hinden, Wolverthem in which he addressed certain, interesting problems.  Van Etten considered the windy part harmful to a sick person so in his book he proposed a method to remove it.[3]

“Problem. CXXV How out of a quantitie of wine to extract that which is most windy, and evill, that it hurt not a sick Person?”

This method involved taking two vials of similar size, filling one with the wine and the other with water.  The necks of both vials are inserted together then the vial with the water is stood on top.  As water is heavier than wine, the liquids will change vials and “by this penetration the wine will lose her vapors in passing through the water.”

In 1779, a classified advertisement in a newspapers details how to use water to determine if a wine was adulterated.  This “easy Method to discover when Wine is adulterated”  required a long, thin vial of wine and a tumbler of water. [4] With a thumb over the vial, it is placed upside-down in the tumbler of water.  If the wine is pure it will remain in the vial.  If the wine is adulterated, the liquids will began to mix.  The pure wine and spirits will remain in vial whereas the mixture, being heavier than water, will settle on the bottom of the tumbler.  After pouring off the water “any chemist or apothecary will decompound, and tell you the ingredients.”


[1] Galsworthy, John. The Novels, Tales and Plays of John Galsworthy: The Forsyte saga . 1922. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=vcceAAAAMAAJ&pg=PR5#v=onepage&q&f=false
[2] Swinburne, Algernon Charles. Songs of the Springtides. 1880. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=hFgJAAAAQAAJ&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[3] Van Etten, H. Mathematical Recreations. 1653. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=6-84AAAAMAAJ&vq=windy%20wine&pg=PP31#v=onepage&q=windy%20wine&f=false  Note, it is possible that H. Van Etten was a pseudonym for the Jesuit Jean Leurechon born circa 1591.  See Notes and Queries, Third Series, Volume Fourth. 1863. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=40wAAAAAYAAJ&pg=PP5#v=onepage&q&f=false
[4]General Evening Post (London, England), July 29, 1779 – July 31, 1779; Issue 7112. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.

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