Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
Through a tad of washing and polishing ....
Or to take arms against that thought of complete sensory delight
And let "convenience" rule with disposable paper and plastic?
The Early Vessel :
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
Great Britain's Shakespeare and most certainly the Danish Hamlet
would both have imported casks of wine from the warmer -
and sunnier! -
grape-growing regions of Europe.
(In fact, British wines were
then considered quite poor).
And although Henry VIII is said to have had a
wine fountain with heads of 40 golden lions and brass taps,
wine would have been decanted from a wooden barrel
to a bulbous and maybe brown
earthenware pitcher -
lacking in much visual pleasure or stimulation -
and with no
recognition of the beautiful colored liquid therein -
a rather "matter of fact
imbibing" of a very expensive beverage.
"Sealed" Wine Bottle, c1660, Courtesy Woolley Wallis, Salisbury, UK
During the mid-17th century, glassmaking was re-introduced into Britain
(that art having been largely lost from the earlier Roman era).
However, 17th century
"decanting bottles" were dark, matte and heavy,
within indicated by lettering on a
a piece of
parchment tied with a string on an applied ring at the
bottle neck -
still no visual pleasure of container
or the wine itself
With George Ravenscroft's
late 17th century introduction of
early (incredible) British wine decanter -
the elegant transparent glass
"carafe", in use by 1720
a parchment ticket still tied round the neck for identification.
George II Cruciform
Carafe Decanter England, c1740,
Having 4 wide and 4 narrow moulded panels ;
Collection Bernard Watney
For the first time,
the beauty of the red and amber wines within clear reflective glass vessels
combined visually to elevate wine drinking to a new sensual level.