Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Celebrate National Wine Day This Weekend

Monday, May 25, is not only Memorial Day, it's National Wine Day, too.  Although the origins of the holiday are unclear, it's a perfect opportunity to enjoy a day set aside to celebrate wine!

Wine has been consumed throughout the world for centuries. The earliest known production of wine dates back to around 6000 BC.  The oldest known winery was discovered in a cave in the mountains of Armenia.
The earliest wine production in Europe, dates back 6,500 years ago, and was discovered at an archaeological site in northern Greece near Macedonia.

Wine was very common in Ancient Greece and Rome, playing an important part in religion and was known as the "Juice of the Gods.”

For the Greeks, Dionysus was the god of wine and revelry.  Dionysus was worshiped from c. 1500 – 1100 BC.  His festivals were the reason for the development of Greek theatre.

Bacchus was the god of wine for the Romans.  He reigned over the grape harvest, winemaking, and the resulting frenzied festivals that occurred.  Bacchus was believed to be a divine being who could communicate with both the living and the dead.
Apparently the Romans also knew how to bottle wine.  A 1,650 year old bottle of wine, the oldest one ever to be discovered, was found in 1867 during a dig in Speyer, Germany. It was located inside a Roman stone sarcophagus. The bottle has been on display at Germany’s History Museum of the Pfalz for over one hundred years.

During this early ‘wine period,’ winemaking technology improved tremendously in the ancient world.  The wine press underwent great changes, and barrels were developed for storing and shipping wines.

Even in Egypt, wine played an important part in daily ceremonial life.

By the Middle Ages, wine was the common drink for all social classes.  It was used for the celebration of Catholic Mass, with the Benedictine Monks producing most of the wine for this purpose.  Housewives made their own wines and served them at every meal.  Wine was watered down with 4 parts water to one part wine for everyday use.

Throughout history, Europe has always been known as the premier wine region.  In fact, American wines were looked down upon throughout the world until 39 years ago when two American wines won acclaim during the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976.
As you remember the reason for Memorial Day, and celebrate the beginning of summer, plan to lift a glass and celebrate National Wine Day, too!
~ Joy

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

6 Drinking Phrases and What They Mean

Wine has been with us for centuries so it stands to reason that sayings or phrases involving wine would crop up in our vocabulary. Here are six well known drinking phrases, how they came about, and what they mean.

1) Boozing It Up
The word booze (bouse) has been around since medieval times. The term means to drink a lot of alcohol, especially whiskey or other high alcohol spirits. Some one who is said to be “boozing it up” is drinking in excess. In Australia, a drinking binge is known as a boozeroo.

Pope Clement VI

2) Drunk as a Pope
This phrase is based on the conduct of Pope Clement VI who was selected to serve as Pope at the conclave of 1342. The Pope quickly became well known for his lavish lifestyle, and his inability to curb his drinking. When he died in 1352, the Pope’s reputation was of "a fine gentleman, a prince munificent to profusion, a patron of the arts and learning, but no saint."

3) Off the Wagon
To fall "off the wagon" means to resume drinking after having stopped. The origins of the word actually do relate to wagons – water wagons. At the turn of the 20th century, abstinence was sweeping the country and many men had “taken the pledge” (not to drink.) Instead, they said they were on the water wagon, or water cart; meaning they were drinking water not liquor. If someone began drinking again it was said that he had fallen “off the wagon.

4) The Bitter End
Bottle Sediment
This phrase usually describes reaching the limit of a person’s abilities or efforts, but it also can reference wine. For thousands of years, vino was stored in clay vessels where the sour lees (a sediment made up of dead yeast and other particles) would eventually fall from the wine to the bottom of the container. When emptying the vat, these dregs could end up being poured into a cup, and someone could find themselves drinking “the bitter end.”

5) Three Sheets to the Wind
This is actually a sailing phrase referring to the chains or ropes that control the angle of a boat’s sails. If the sheets, or ropes were loose, the boat would become unsteady or tipsy. (The actual phrase was three sheets in the wind.) To be "three sheets to the wind" indicates someone who is extremely drunk and unsteady on their feet.

6) To Your Health
The custom of offering a toast before drinking can be traced back to ancient religious rites involving the Greeks and Romans who offered wine to their gods at feasting events. These customs evolved into today’s ritual of wishing your drinking partners a long life, or raising a glass “to your health.

So “Here’s mud in your eye,” “Here’s to you,” and “Cheers!”

~ Joy