Wine in Ancient Culture

Herodotus writes that Cleomene’s madness proceeded from the habit of drinking wine unmixed with water, which he learnt of the Scyths.  Likewise Plato, in Laws, says:  But the Scythians and Thracians, both men and women, drink unmixed wine, which they pour on their garments, and this they think a happy and glorious institution.

 "Alcohol consumption in the ancient world was a matter of public endeavour" Tamra Andrews,  An Encyclopaedia of Food in World Mythology (2000)

An exchange between one of the ambassadors and Dicaeopolis in Aristophanes' Acharnians also illustrates the barbaric nature of the custom:

A: And when we were entertained, we were compelled to drink unmixed sweet wine from cups of glass and gold —

D: City of Cranaus!  Are you aware how these ambassadors mock you?

A variation on this ancient custom is still performed today as part of the Mass, when the priest pours a few drops of water into the wine and says this prayer (Novus Ordo):

By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.


Bush Stasher

This open can was stashed in a bush at 11.17pm one September night.  It was collected and finished later at 1.50am on the road home.

Bush Lager

25 Litres of Wine

How Much Wine I Drank in One Year

Ancient cultures considered the drinking of unmixed wine to be barbaric.   (SEE THIS FOOTNOTE FOR MORE)

Thus, a Greek or Roman who drank unmixed wine was likely to be a drunkard or a glutton, and so at the very least, water was added, usually on a 50 / 50 basis with the wine.  In deference to this ancient code, I often mixed my wine, although sadly I usually mixed it with beer — sometimes adding a couple of vodka and cokes as well.  Mixing them in the same stomach as it were.

Read more: 25 Litres of Wine

For Fun in Ireland

For fun (IN IRELAND), there is the practice of ordering a whiskey to sip while the stout is being poured.  The trick is to order another stout before you’re too close to the bottom of the present one so that you don’t go thirsty during the transition.  If you forget, then you might have to order another whiskey while they pour the stout.  After a few whiskeys, the stout tastes like mother’s milk and brand of either isn’t terribly important, although it just so happened that I witnessed this alcoholic caper committed with Bushmill’s whiskey and Guinness.

94 Litres of Beer


Beer is famous in our time.   Everyone wants it and yet nobody can hold down more than half a dozen pints of it.   Due to this challenge beer is widely abused, and many of our matings are its result.  In the following list are the beers — bottled and canned — which I drunk at home, and in the homes of others, over the course of one year.

Read more: 94 Litres of Beer

Trappist Drinking

Trappist drinking?  This was best expressed many centuries ago by Li Po (701 - 762 CE), who wrote a reflective verse on unaided, single-handed swigging, called Drinking Alone by Moonlight:

    A cup of wine, under the flowering trees;
 I drink alone, for no friend is near.
    Raising my cup I beckon the bright moon,
 For he, with my shadow, will make three men.



Tesco Lager Experience

The Tesco lager was an almost translucent, yellow colour, with a good amount of carbonation and short-lived, white head. The immediate aroma was of floral hops with some grassy tones, followed by a little graininess, and some faint malt in the background.  Shortly after that I was flinging CDs across the room at my friend, who was trying to play the trombone.

Boswell and Johnson on Wine in Scotland

Boswell : We had wine before the Union.
Johnson : No, sir; you had some weak stuff, the refuse of France, which would not make you drunk.

Implying that the Union of Scotland and England unfettered the drinking of the Scots, and ultimately caused the Scots folk mass drunkenness?

Implying that Scotland's alcohol problem is at root a fault of the the Acts of Union: the Union with Scotland Act 1706 passed by the Parliament of England, and the Union with England Act passed in 1707 by the Parliament of Scotland


Greggs Caramel and Pecan Momento


To most people they are simply bakers, but to you and I they are biscuit technologists — you might even call them pioneers — maybe pie-oneers. 

Read more: Greggs Caramel and Pecan Momento