01438 741177         thewinesociety.com

The ritual of wine drinking

Interesting article in the Times today, apologies to those who can’t access it, in their archive series from 1922.

It concerns a paper presented in Bordeaux, and contains too much to repeat or summarise here, but there’s one nugget that might provoke some debate:

“The taster’s capacity of appreciation depends on his ancestry, age, sex, health, education and mood.”


The big question mark for me is in the word “capacity”, which implies something that can be measured on a single dimension. I also wonder what exactly is meant by “heritage” - culture? genetics? But all the factors can be shown to affect wine appreciation in some way or other.

(Sadly I can’t read the whole article without registering.)

“The variation of sensation produced by a particular wine upon all these factors in the tester is, declares Dr Mathieu, a mere matter of mathematics to be reduced to a table of formulae. But his science changes to lyricism when he considers scientifically how wines should be drunk at dinner.”

Then follows a discussion on the order in which to drink wines, and which wine with which dish.


“The room, the table, the company, the shape and quality of glasses, make a difference and although Dr Mathieu does not mention it, the sound of the names. Could any liquid named Margaux, Latour, Chambertin or Clos du Roi taste wholly ill?”

Ancestry. Hmmm, I wonder what they meant by that? Good thing it was written 100 years ago.


Wine’s not for oiks, innit. You’ve got to be all la-de-da to enjoy it.


Perhaps he just means you have to be French.

Didn’t the chop the heads off all the people with the right ancestry for appreciation though?


Hard to tell whether this doctor-scientist is espousing common eugenicist beliefs or a more radical phenomenology of the senses.

His ancestry, age, sex, health, education and mood hint at the former.


It doesn’t surprise me it’s in The Times either. There seems a nostalgia in our right wing press for a simpler age where people just knew their place in the order of things.


Something along these lines perhaps ?

…1976 edition. Picked up in a charity shop ten years later. I’d have looked like one of Hawkwind’s roadies at the time.


What a great diversity of wine drinkers in that illustration! Really capturing a full demographic representation.


Add in me, my partner and @Brocklehurstj and it does look a little bit like the last Society Rhone walk around I went to.


never been to a walkaround, always fancied it. I’d stick out like a sore thumb on this analysis, which is kind of off-putting.

1 Like

I did not think anyone cared of appearances at the walkarounds I have been to. I agree the audience is not extremely diverse, but everyone is focussed on their wines. The Society people pouring are super nice.


There’s a variety of hairlines represented, for sure. And different tuckings-in of the pocket handkerchief.


Also a pair of twins.


If only we could see the colour of the trousers.


I’ve been to a fair few of them - most are not in the slightest bit like this. Most of them are very diverse crowd wise and I’ve not felt at all out of place. The one with the most diverse crowd I’ve been to was a Spanish wines one at The Oval.

If you’re anywhere near London and want some moral support from a group of people who don’t look anything like that, you’re more than welcome to join me and my friends at any (we’re going to the Taste the New List on 3rd of May at Vintners Hall).

Edit: Unless it was us being there that put you off, of course!


You just KNOW they are in a diversity of colours. Maroon. Claret. Deep Red. Burgundy.

EDIT: just realised that there are sound practical reasons for wearing that kind of trousers to an event where lots of red wine will be consumed.


I possibly am less diverse that I thought!