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Sunday, 2 November 2014

Drinking Habits In Northern Europe In The Late Middle Ages

In the later Middle Ages ale was the most popular drink in Britain, drunk by all classes. The nobles consumed strong ale as it quenched the thirst, raised the spirits and relieved fatigue. Meanwhile the poor drank weak ale rather than water, which was often polluted. Many believed it protected them from the plague. It became the most popular drink at weddings where it was poured by the bride herself and it became known as the bride's ale, or “bridal”.

On the continent the peasants mainly drunk ale made from barley, oats or wheat. Different strengths of ale were brewed for separate members of the family. The man of the house had the strongest brew, his wife a middling strength and their children the weakest. The only alternative for children was the less healthy water. Cider and pomace wine (a weak type of wine with an alcoholic strength of three to four per cent) were widely available. Wooden cups were used for both cold and hot drinks.

The European upper classes drunk ale which was generally brewed on site by an ale-wife using their own grain. The wine they drank was often spiced and was generally imported from southern Europe in barrels before being decanted into jugs, from which it was poured into the drinker’s cup or wine glass.

Wine glasses first appeared in Venice around the 12th century.  

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