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Thread: A question on wine

  1. #21
    Senior Member DragonOfTheAerie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sheilawisz View Post
    I am sure that somebody in Medieval Europe or before had the idea to pour some honey into their wine and mix it, and yes it must have been done sometimes but it was not a common practice. The usual procedure was to dilute the wine with water, and also to spice it, because they used loads of spices in their food back then.

    Yeah, loads of people combine their wines with sprite and other sodas. Even in wine-loving Spain this is done a lot, but the idea behind the practice (or at least the general effect that the combination has on the wine) is not to sweeten it. Sprite is not sweet enough to cause a dry wine to go sweet, at least not in a 50/50 mixture.

    What happens is that even a tannic and aggressive wine becomes more beer-like, easier and faster to drink.

    You are adding sugar to the wine, but at the same time you are adding a lot of water and so you are diluting the wine more than sweetening it. At least to me, a 50/50 combination of a dry white with sprite results in a beverage that is sparkly and pleasant, and it's easy to drink and there is sprite flavor in it but it's not particularly sweet.

    Now I am curious, and the next time that I get some tetra brick wine I am going to mix some of it with honey just to discover how sweet it can be made, look for changes in color and also to decide how pleasant the final result is.

    And yeah, I agree with you Russ that using a fine wine for mixing is a very sad thing.

    Chessie and Joe: Thanks for the replies. As far as I know underage drinking of wine is more accepted in England than at the other side of the Atlantic, but it seems that in the U.S. underage drinking is far more serious than I imagined. No offense really, but sometimes I am happy that I was not born in the U.S. because of things like that.

    Something else that could be of interest to a Fantasy writer wishing to portray wine in a medieval society:

    Today the wine lovers look for fine and expensive wines that must be kept in their cellars for years so it can evolve and become better, but centuries ago the wine that everybody appreciated was young and fresh wine, the more recently made the better. This was because wine manufacturing was simpler, and wine just went bad quickly instead of evolving.

    Even today, few wines are destined to be kept at cellars and really age and evolve for a long time. The idea that all wines become better with time is a common misconception.
    Despite being serious, underage drinking is super common in the U.S. Especially among college students it seems.

  2. #22
    There was a period, the 70s for the most part, when the legal age went down to 18 or 19 in many states. Alas, puritanism and prohibitionism and threats to cut highway funds from the federal government sent it back up to 21 almost everywhere. That's the legal age for someone being sold alcohol, not the age at which they are 'allowed' to drink, incidentally.
    Epics ever favor the winner.

  3. #23
    Moderator Sheilawisz's Avatar
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    To Darkness and other people interested in this:

    Apart from defrutum and honey, there would be two other options to follow in case that you want your characters to sweeten their wines in a realistic medieval style world. The first is cane sugar, exactly the same that we get in the supermarket in our days, and the other would be marmalade or jelly.

    In our world, cane sugar was very rare in Medieval Europe because the cane sugar plant was cultivated in far off countries like India. The plant requires very hot weather to grow well, and also the process to transform the cane juice into sugar crystals as we know them is laborious and complicated.

    When sugar started to be known in Europe, it was considered a medicine and not a food like honey. Also, it was very expensive and it continued to be like that for centuries.

    You can solve this problem by explaining that your Fantasy world counts with a country that has very hot weather, something like Sicily or Southern Spain, and they grow loads of cane sugar (or a similar plant) there. Also, you would have to mention that they have been experimenting with the plant since generations ago and finally they can produce large amounts of cheap sugar for everyone.

    A funnier way for them to sweeten their wines (and add a fruity taste to it at the same time!) would be marmalade or jelly. These can be made with many types of fruit available in your Fantasy world, and they require a lot of sugar to be made but it can be plausible if they have the sugar cane availability that I mentioned before.

    The problem with using honey would be that the flavors added would probably be undesirable for wine lovers, because there are many types of honey depending on what the bees were feeding on.

    I would go with the marmalade option.
    Imagination fills my Soul with Magic. - Sheila Wisz Ellayn.

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  5. #24
    Another explanation for sugar in a cooler climate would be the earlier production of the sugar beet; in our world, it wasn't until the early 1800s that the sugar beet was widely grown, but once it had the growth was huge: by 1880, more than 50% of the world's sugar production was from sugar beets rather than cane. Industrial processes have tipped the balance back toward cane, but sugar beets still account for about 20% of world sugar production.

    All it takes is one innovative person earlier in your world to make sugar more commonplace in cooler climes. And they will grow fine in much cooler climates than cane needs (Russia, Germany, the UK, US, and Canada all grow them commercially)

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  7. #25
    Senior Member Trick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DragonOfTheAerie View Post
    Despite being serious, underage drinking is super common in the U.S. Especially among college students it seems.
    It's interesting how much of Europe has lower legal ages for drinking and less of an issue with young people driving drunk or acting like total idiots because of over-drinking. At least, that's what I've heard. Don't have any stats on hand.

    I'm American and of Irish decent. In our family, alcohol is just part of life. Teenagers are allowed to consume at home within reason and they learn an appreciation and respect for alcohol and it's affects. Then turning 21 doesn't seem like such a big deal and no one is drinking to get drunk because "it's cool." Seems to me like Europe has it right - the 21 age puts alcohol on a pedestal and kids go nuts drinking it (sometimes around 18 illegally and sometimes at 21 legally).

    As for the main subject of the post, I just wanted to thank the OP for asking the question because I'm a beer guru but an ignorant wine-lover and this has been educational.
    The world always seems brighter when you've just made something that wasn't there before. Neil Gaiman

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  9. #26
    Senior Member DragonOfTheAerie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trick View Post
    It's interesting how much of Europe has lower legal ages for drinking and less of an issue with young people driving drunk or acting like total idiots because of over-drinking. At least, that's what I've heard. Don't have any stats on hand.

    I'm American and of Irish decent. In our family, alcohol is just part of life. Teenagers are allowed to consume at home within reason and they learn an appreciation and respect for alcohol and it's affects. Then turning 21 doesn't seem like such a big deal and no one is drinking to get drunk because "it's cool." Seems to me like Europe has it right - the 21 age puts alcohol on a pedestal and kids go nuts drinking it (sometimes around 18 illegally and sometimes at 21 legally).

    As for the main subject of the post, I just wanted to thank the OP for asking the question because I'm a beer guru but an ignorant wine-lover and this has been educational.
    That's probably the truth. Perhaps young people (being risk seeking and all that) feel less inclined to abuse alcohol when it's a normal part of life.

    I wonder how the stricter laws came about in the first place?

  10. #27
    Senior Member Trick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DragonOfTheAerie View Post
    That's probably the truth. Perhaps young people (being risk seeking and all that) feel less inclined to abuse alcohol when it's a normal part of life.

    I wonder how the stricter laws came about in the first place?
    One word: Prohibition.
    The world always seems brighter when you've just made something that wasn't there before. Neil Gaiman

  11. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Trick View Post
    It's interesting how much of Europe has lower legal ages for drinking and less of an issue with young people driving drunk or acting like total idiots because of over-drinking. At least, that's what I've heard. Don't have any stats on hand.
    The US is pretty middle of the pack as far as public health goes, relative to Western Europe. Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Germany, France, and Belgium all have higher mortality rates from alcohol (including DUI and direct drinking) than the US does. Greece, Spain, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the UK, Ireland, and Portugal all have lower mortality rates.

    ALCOHOL DEATH RATE BY COUNTRY

  12. #29
    Senior Member Trick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SumnerH View Post
    The US is pretty middle of the pack as far as public health goes, relative to Western Europe. Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Germany, France, and Belgium all have higher mortality rates from alcohol (including DUI and direct drinking) than the US does. Greece, Spain, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the UK, Ireland, and Portugal all have lower mortality rates.

    ALCOHOL DEATH RATE BY COUNTRY
    Thanks for finding it. I was too lazy. Ireland's an interesting one. I've been there and they drink a lot but in at least some places the time cutoff for sales of alcohol is 11pm unlike 2am and even 4am in the US. I think that helps prevent people leaving a bar stupid drunk but not much else I guess.

    They also all seem to drive much faster than anyone (except for me) where I live in the US but they have low traffic fatalities... hmmm. There's something to that I'd wager. I wonder if there are stats on that odd correlation.
    The world always seems brighter when you've just made something that wasn't there before. Neil Gaiman

  13. #30
    Senior Member Russ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trick View Post
    One word: Prohibition.
    Certain types of fundamentalist religious populism play a role. The US has a unique religious culture.
    “Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday.”- John Wayne

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