Bottoms Up! The Story of Wine, Its Rituals & Glasses.

Drinking-Bacchus-Guido-Reni-1621 This new, light-hearted study day examines the history of wine, an elixir that has sustained much of humanity for almost 10,000 years. Essentially little more than fermented grape juice, this extraordinary and contradictory liquid has caused wars and riots, has helped to broker peace and, more commonly, served both for relaxation and as an aphrodisiac. It has been personified in the form of Gods and been the principal catalyst in civilised entertaining and dining rituals.

Wine is based on ethanol, a potent alcoholic poison and depressant. Yet, when consumed in moderation, its effects are liberating, euphoric and positively beneficial to our physical health. What do we do when we drink too much and feel bad the following morning? Down another glass of it to make us feel better!

Bottom’s Up! traces the story of wine: from its humble beginnings in rotting grapes before the Bronze Age to the present when single bottles can change hands thousands, even tens of thousands of pounds. It examines the extraordinary diversity of paintings and artefacts, including drinking vessels, that have been created by history’s greatest artists and craftsmen to enhance the pleasure of wine, and to impress guests.

The study day visits the ancient societies of Egypt, Greece and Rome, travels through the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and 18th century Britain. It culminates in the present day, when more wine is being consumed than ever before, with its world market now worth over £100 billion.

The day comprises three parts, each approximately an hour long, two before lunch:

1. An introduction to Andy, touching on his colourful past and involvement with the Antiques Roadshow [BBC Tv’s number one programme, when Attenborough isn’t on!].
The history of wine, from its beginnings 6,000 years ago and is spread across the Ancient World, and the vessels used to serve and consume them.
The discovery of the craft of glass-blowing, just before the birth of Christ, and the resulting vessels.

2. The first fine wines created, then shipped to London at the time of Pepys and the Great Fire, 1666.
The Bordeaux classification of 1855, which enshrined terms such as Vin Ordinaire, Vin Superior, etc.
How French wine production was wiped out by the Phylloxera mite.
The development of New World wines.
An examination of the differing glasses traditionally used for specific wines.

3. An appraisal of the glassware brought in by guests.
Andy POSITIVELY ENCOURAGES those attending to bring in their glassware for this session. So far as he’s concerned, the more the merrier…and the more interesting this session is.