Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

fashion has played a part in wine consumption, and therefore eventually wine production, for at least two millennia. The wine drinkers of Ancient rome favoured white wines, preferably old, sweet white wines (see falernian, for example). Indeed, throughout much of the modern age, sweet, heady wines have been prized above all others. In the early Middle Ages, the wine drinkers of northern Europe had to drink the thin, tart, sometimes spiced ferments of local vineyards because transport was so rudimentary, and rhine wines were considered the height of fashion. But when these consumers were introduced to such syrupy Mediterranean potions as the wines of cyprus and malmsey, wines traded energetically by the merchants of, for instance, venice, a fashion for this richer style of wine was established. By the 16th century, for example, light, white alsace wine was regarded as unfashionable by the German wine drinker (see german history), who was, as now, beginning to favour red wines. Many fashions were restricted to one particular district or region, particularly before the age of modern communications. It is clear that the wines favoured by the French court in the medieval period, for example, were considerably influenced by fashion and, possibly, more pragmatically political considerations (see medieval literature and st-pourçain).