29 Annotations

Mary  •  Link

The purchase of wine

Picard (Restoration London, p.157/8) reports that wine was not sold in bottles at this date, as corks had not yet been developed. It was sold by the cask, and the purchaser would decant suitable quantities into his own bottles for service. The fahionable would have their crests embossed on their bottles.

Eric Walla  •  Link

Good catch on the bottle issue ...

... it is amazing how many things you take for granted that have only been around for a relatively short period of time. I assume you then mean this holds for all bottles and all liquids? Would there be any more decanter types? Screw tops are probably even more recent.

I get the feeling the taverns become absolutely vital, unless you want to carry a small cask around with you.

George Robins  •  Link

In those days the wine was decanted into bottles by the "bottler" who became in time the "Butler"

vincent  •  Link

1638 The retailing of wine in bottles prohibited. Bottling was necessary for light wines, which will not keep in a cask, and the act thus probably led to adulteration...(plus other titbits from ), http://www.shu.ac.uk/schools/cs/teaching/sle/Bo...

Andrew Stephenson  •  Link

On the subject of corks - in fact they have an ancient lineage having been used as bottle stoppers it is suggested for as long as there has been wine. Apparently the Greeks used corks to close wine jugs as did the Romans who used pitch to ensure a good seal. It seems the cork bottle stoppers in europe were thereafter a victim of the dark ages. There is a reference in Shakespeares "As you like it" (1598 - 60) which appears to be to a cork stopper.The first mention of a corkscrew is reported as 1681. The other thing to note is that production of corks was facilitated by uniformity of glass bottle openings so that good fits could be reliably achieved. This uniformity it is suggested was achieved in the seventeenth century. Not always successfully however judging by the following comment from the wonderfully entitled "Treatise on cider" by Worland (1676) "Much liquor being absolutely spoiled through the only defect in the cork. Therefore are glass stoppels are to be preferred"

Andrew Hamilton  •  Link


Definition from 1911 Enclyclopedia site

A Spanish wine, which was of a strong, rough, dry kind (in Fr. vin sec, whence the name), and therefore usually sweetened and mixed with spice and mulled or burnt. It became a common name for all the stronger white wines of the South.

dirk  •  Link

Wine and Pepys...

"Seventeenth Century:
Wine growing was not commercially viable until very recently, but this does not mean that vines were not planted, grown and written about. Innovative landowners planted small acreages of vines from which they made wines. The reign of Charles II, (in the 1600s) which saw considerable innovation in many diverse fields also produced an interest in viticulture. The Royal Gardner, appropriately named John Rose wrote about the growing, training and pruning of vines in a paper entitled "The English vineyard Vindicated".
In 1610 the renowned botanist John Tradescant (after whom the tradescantia flower is named) was asked by Robert Cecil, the first Earl of Alsibury to go to Flanders to search from some suitable vines for his estate at Hatfield House. He established a vineyard of 20,000 vines the ollowing year and expanded this steadily. **Samuel Pepys** visited it in 1661 and again in 1667."


Neil Adams  •  Link

Burnt Wine
If not mulled wine, a popular winter warmer prepared by plunging a hot poker into spiced wine, then probably 'Malmsey' or Madeira wine that had been heat-treated on its long voyage... http://www.madeirawine.com/html/sauna01.html

language hat  •  Link

French wine in the late 17th century:
From Tim Unwin's Wine and the Vine (a scholarly history published by Routledge):

On 10th April 1663, Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary,
Off the Exchange with Sir J. Cutler and Mr. Grant to the Royall Oake Taverne in Lombard-street... And here drank a sort of French wine called Ho Bryan, that hath a good and most perticular taste that I never met with.
This wine was none other than that produced on the property of Haut-Brion in the Graves, by Arnaud de Pontac, first President of the Bordeaux Parlement. Three years later in 1666, Arnaud de Pontac sent his son to London, where he opened a restaurant, grocers and tavern named the Sign of Pontac's Head, and here he introduced his wines to the discerning elite of London society...

Following the collapse of trade with England in the middle of the fifteenth century, the wine merchants of Bordeaux increasingly turned to the Netherlands as a market for their wines during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries... However, ...following the restoration of peace between the Netherlands and Spain in 1648, and the subsequent outbreak of war with France in 1672, the Dutch turned to the sweet wines of Portugal and southern Spain... rather than those of France.... Moreover, although the wines of the Graves had reached London society through the activities of such enterprising men as Arnaud de Pontac in the 1660s, the outbreak of war between France and England... led to a crisis for the Bordelais.

The solution was to abandon the production of low quality wines, and to invest in specialist wine production which would bear the high costs imposed by war and customs barriers. Gradually, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, more and more names of individual wine producing properties begin to appear, and despite trade restrictions... these wines found their way onto the English market....

Previously, most of the wines exported from Bordeaux had come from the south or east of the city, but these wines, known at the time generally as New French Clarets, were from the Médoc, to the north. Here, on the poor quality sands and gravels, the first half of the eighteenth century saw a veritable explosion of vineyard development, as money was invested in the production of high quality wines… The New French Clarets were the preserve only of the very rich, who could afford the high duties that were levied on them, and they thus became one element in the new symbolism of the rich and powerful of early eighteenth century England.

Kim Bergman  •  Link

On the subjects of wine and the cork: I found that Peter Earle, in his biography, Pepys,wrote that: "The cork [as we know it], without which wine cannot achieve the subtleties that comes from bottle age, only began to come into use about the time of his [Pepys] death, so that his taste lies on the medieval side if that dividing line." Which can also be said for his eating habits and tastes.

language hat  •  Link

From The New Great Vintage Wine Book, by Michael Broadbent:

1771: One of the earliest recorded good vintages. The first red Bordeaux vintage to appear in a Christie's catalogue: "Excellent fine flavoured Claret of the year 1771", in March 1776.

(In case you're wondering, the Margaux was still drinkable when Broadbent tasted it in 1987: "After 30 minutes, developed a slightly quince-like scent and remained sound after 80 minutes in the glass. On the palate distinctly sweeet, medium full-bodied, with positive flavour and remarkably good acidity." He gives higher marks to the 1784, "the greatest vintage of the period"; the Margaux was "a glorious, healthy-looking red brown wine with orange rim... it must have been magnificent.")

Pauline  •  Link

Muscadine, Muscatt
(from L&M Companion)
muscatel wine: the use 'muscatt', which puzzled P, OED 1747, through 'musticat' 1578 (Scotland) and 'muscat' for 'muscat grape' 1655;

muscatel is strong and sweet, and the description was accorded to strong sweet wines even when not products of the muscat grape

Bradford  •  Link

1 August 2005 "New Yorker," pp. 80-82, has a review by Steven Shapin of Tom Standage's "A History of the World in 6 Glasses." (Standage is tech editor for "The Economist"; the beverages in question are beer, wine, distilled spirits, coffee, tea, and Coke.) The review contains extensive summaries of the part the relevant drinks played in Pepys's life (beginning "A typical day's drinking for Samuel Pepys in early Restoration London might go like this").
Unfortunately the article does not seem available on-line; nor can I tell from the reviews or summaries on Amazon (US) just how much attention Standage pays to him in the book proper. (Shapin teaches the history of science at Harvard, and has written on 17thC science.) But if your local library takes the "NYkr," well worth looking up these three densely-packed pages.
Here's a link to the US edition:
and to the UK (no reviews or summary given):

Bradford  •  Link

Bedankje, Dirk: now why couldn't I find it when I looked? But nota bene, all: it probably won't remain available permanently, so drink up now.

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

list of wines that be imported in Elizabeth I's reign:
Wine, Alicante, 472; Burgundy, 623; Canary, 801; Coniac, 579; corrupt, 80; Gascony, 61; Nantes, 621; Oléron, 59; Rhenish, 52; Rochelle, 54; of St. Martin, 224; sweet, 53. See also Bastards, Cuit, Malmsey, Muscatel, Sack
[plus vinegar]
From: 'Appendix II: Descriptive list of commodities', The port and trade of early Elizabethan London: documents (1972), pp. 138-51. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?com.... Date accessed: 14 February 2006.

hillary  •  Link

What percentage of wine did they use to cook food with?

TerryF  •  Link


“Wine is an alcoholic beverage produced by the fermentation of fruit, typically grapes though a number of other fruits are also quite popular - such as plum, elderberry and blackcurrant. Non-grape wines are called fruit wine or country wine….” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wine

TerryF  •  Link

Ooops. Dirk already provided The NYorker link. Bradford, et al., it's been my experience that, since 2002, the trend on that site has been to restore links rather than to remove them. Let's hope my experience is a fair sample and. if so, that the trend continues.

Timothy Mason  •  Link

tierce - Is this truly 35 gallons or 156 litres of wine? Well done, Samuel.

CGS  •  Link

pipe: wooden cask for wine and other goods. According to most sources, the pipe held 126 gallons, but testimony from the mid-seventeenth century suggests that the pipe used in the Canary trade was smaller, holding perhaps 112 to 120 gallons. For calculations of freight and taxes, two hogsheads of wine equalled one pipe, and two pipes equalled one ton.

ton (t)[Tun]: as a measure of weight, from 2,000 to 2,240 lbs depending on the commodity. A veteran shipmaster of the Canary trade testified in 1650 that in freight calculations a ton was accounted as equivalent to 42–3 hides, 2 pipes of wine, 13–14 kts of ginger, 3 chests of sugar, 20 kts of logwood, or 8 chests of tobacco.


Paul Chapin  •  Link

Reposting Mary's annotation from the diary for 8 July:

A tierce is a third part of a pipe of wine and equals 35 Imperial gallons
(= 42 US gallons).

Note: this is also the volume of a barrel of oil

Bill  •  Link

CLARET [Clairet, F. of Clarus, L. clear] a general Name for the red Wines of France.
---An Universal Etymological English Dictionary. N. Bailey, 1675.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries, many of which had their own vineyards, ended large-scale English wine production. But isolated enthusiasts kept some vine-growing alive. Samuel Pepys records drinking wines from several vineyards around London.

The English invented the process which turns still wine into sparkling wine. The first mention of Sparkling Champagne was in 1676 by Sir George Etherege in The Man of the Mode:
"...To the Mall and the Park where we love till 'tis dark,
Then sparkling Champaign puts an end to their reign;
It quickly recovers poor languishing lovers..."

This was 20 years before the French claim to have made their first sparkling Champagne, in a 1718 document referring to this type of wine around 1695.
The essential difference between a still wine and either Champagne or Sparkling wine is the bubbles arise from a second fermentation taking place in the bottle. The carbon dioxide cannot escape and dissolves in the wine, to be released when the wine is drunk. The bottle is under high pressure and 16th century bottles and wooden bungs could not contain it. This did not matter to the French who kept their wine in casks, but the English liked their wine in bottles, and second fermentation caused the bottle to fail.
Still wines from Champagne were prone to this because the wine was made in a cool climate and the initial fermentation often stopped prematurely, only to re-start in warm buildings just before consumption. However the sparkling effect improved an otherwise mediocre regional wine. The problem facing English wine coopers was how to control the process.

An accidental improvement in bottle technology gave the English the lead. In 1615 Admiral Sir Robert Mansell persuaded James I to ban the use of wood-fired furnaces, forcing the use of coal. The higher temperatures from coal-fired furnaces produced a stronger glass which, coupled with the re-discovery of cork stoppers, gave the English a wine bottle capable of withstanding gas pressures produced by making the wine sparkling.
Mansell retired, built a glassworks, obtained a Royal Patent for the use of coal, and hence a monopoly on making the new glass.
English wine coopers now had what they needed for the sparkling method, and in a 1662 paper to the Royal Society by Christopher Merritt entitled ‘The Ordering of Wines’ refers to making sparkling wine by English wine coopers as an established practice.
This was 30 years before the French made their first Sparkling Champagne, and 70 years before the first Champagne House was established. The French attribute the process to Dom Perignon, but the only records of his work show he spent his life trying to stop the wine fermenting in the bottle.
The historical record shows the French perfected the process, and made Champagne famous. The British invented it.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Rhenish wines -- The modern history of Alsace-Lorraine was largely influenced by the rivalry between French and German nationalisms. Since the Middle Ages, France sought to attain and preserve its “natural boundaries“, which are the Pyrenees to the southwest, the Alps to the southeast, and the Rhine River to the northeast. These strategic aims led to the absorption of territories located west of the Rhine river. What is now known as Alsace was progressively conquered by Louis XIV in the 17th century, while Lorraine was integrated in the 18th century under Louis XV.

In the earlier times, any wine produced in the Alsace region, whether a White or a Rose type (very few if any Reds were produced in the area), would have been labeled and marketed as a Rhenish or Rhine wine. The alcohol content would have been up to 15%, due to the terrain and the method of wine making, which was more of the French method than the German method.

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.