Nursery Rhymes

Middle Ages Drink

Middle Ages - Lords and Ladies

Middle Ages Drink

The people of the Middle Ages enjoyed to drink, and as water was often unclean, it was a necessity. The poor drank ale, mead or cider and the rich were able to drink many different types of wines. Beer is not only one of the oldest fermenting beverages used by man, but it is also the one which was most in vogue in the Middle Ages.

Middle Ages Drink - Ale and Beer
Under the Romans, the real beer, was made with barley; but, at a later period, all sorts of grain was indiscriminately used; and it was only towards the end of the sixteenth century that the flower or seed of hops to the oats or barley was added. Another sort of beer was known during the Middle Ages, which was called godale. This name was derived from the two German words god and ael, which mean "good beer" and was of a stronger description than the ordinary beer. When, on the return from the Crusades, the use of spice had become the fashion, beverages as well as the food were loaded with spice, including beer. Allspice, juniper, resin, apples, bread-crumbs, sage, lavender, gentian, cinnamon, and laurel were each thrown into it. The object of these various mixtures was naturally to obtain high-flavoured beers. Other beers, called 'Small Beer' were sweetened simply with honey, or scented with ambergris or raspberries.

Middle Ages Drink - Cider
Cider (in Latin sicera) and perry can also both claim a very ancient origin. Cider is a drink made of apples sometimes this was made by  pouring water on apples, and steeping them, so as to extract a sort of half-sour, half-sweet drink.

Middle Ages Drink - Wine
The English experimented with mixing resin with their wines to preserve them and prevent them from turning sour, as the temperature of their country was not warm enough thoroughly to ripen the grape. It was not very successful and most wines were imported. In 1372, a merchant fleet of two hundred came from London to Bordeaux for wine. In the thirteenth century, in the "Battle of Wines" we find those of Aquila, Spain, and, above all, those of Cyprus, spoken of in high terms. A century later, Eustace Deschamps praised the Rhine wines, and those of Greece, Malmsey, and Grenache. In an edict of Charles VI. mention is also made of the muscatel, rosette, and the wine of Lieppe. Generally, the Malmsey was an artificial preparation, which had neither the colour nor taste of the Cyprian wine. Malmsey wine was made with water, honey, clary juice, beer grounds, and brandy. At first the same name was used for the natural wine, mulled and spiced, which was produced in the island of Madeira from the grapes which the Portuguese brought there from Cyprus in 1420.

Many wines were made with infusions of wormwood, myrtle, hyssop, rosemary which were mixed with sweetened wine and flavoured with honey. The most celebrated of these beverages bore the pretentious name of "nectar;" those composed of spices, Asiatic aromatics, and honey, were generally called "white wine".

The name of wine was also given to drinks composed of the juices of certain fruits, and in which grapes were in no way used. These were the cherry, the currant, the raspberry, and the pomegranate wines; also the moré, made with the mulberry. There were also sour wines, which were made by pouring water on the refuse grapes after the wine had been extracted; also the drinks made from filberts, milk of almonds, the syrups of apricots and strawberries, and cherry and raspberry waters, all of which were refreshing, and were principally used in summer.

Middle Ages Drink - Mead
Honey was used to make a sweet alcoholic drink called mead which was drunk by all classes. Wine was generally imported although some fruit wines were produced in England. A form of cider referred to as 'Apple-wine' was also produced. Ales were brewed with malt and water, while beer contained hops that held a bitter flavor. Other flavors were added to ales and beers such as bayberries, orris, or long pepper. Consumption of weak, low-alcohol drinks at this time has been estimated at around one gallon per person per day.

Middle Ages Food
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