12th October Wine Through Time: A Vinous History of Bristol. Dr Evan Jones

Last Wednesday’s long awaited talk for members by Dr Evan Jones was definitely worth the wait.  Evan has already given us talks on death and disease and led a walk that illustrated the sex lives of Bristolians of the early modern period. What was awaiting us this time? He began with the origins of the wine connection, from the Roman Empire when wine drinking was a symbol of Imperial sophistication and wines was shipped over in amphorae. The extent of alcohol consumption during the medieval and early Modern times was a surprise to many of our members and especially that in Bristol much of this was wine. The cost of moving it elsewhere in the country by land meant that in Bristol it was a relatively cheaper drink and from Norman times it was regularly coming into the city (from Bordeaux and later Spain and Portugal). So it was not just the drink of the aristocracy. After members tasted small amounts of first the adulterated mixture that resembled those drunk by Bristolians in the thirteenth century we moved on to stronger and richer wines accompanied by French, Spanish wines and English cheeses. We also learnt the about the use of barrels in shipping wine and the amount of alcohol poisoning that went on when men sought to salvage the cargo of shipwrecks as well as the derivation of the name of Bristol’s most famous sherry (Cream as well as Milk). The social history of drinking is clearly a major field of research.  By the end of the talk we had had not only enlightening talk but a friendly meeting of members and surprisingly no-one spilt anything.

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