The cost of reading

The BMJ column from this week discusses the vast increase in the price of old medical books, and the last one Dalrymple mentions jogged a memory:

My favourite item, though, was In Vino Veritas: Or a Conference betwixt Chip the Cooper, and Dash the Drawer (Being both Boozy), a pamphlet of 1698. An extract to whet the appetite, as it were, explains why the English prefer the fortified wines of Portugal to the unfortified wines of France:

“They have the body, that is strength, and that now a days pleases, for our People love to have their Heads and Stomachs hot, as soon and as cheap as they can.”

Now does that remind you of anything, I wonder—for example, casualty on a Saturday night?

I remembered from reading my copy of Wine for Dummies exactly why the British began drinking Port in the first place (and no, I am not at all embarrassed to own that book, thankyouverymuch):

The British invented Port, thanks to one of their many wars with the French, when they were forced to buy Portuguese wine as an alternative to French wine. To insure that the Portuguese wines were stable enough for shipment by sea, the British had a small amount of brandy added to their finished wine, and early Port was the result. The English established their first Port house, Warre, in the city of Oporto in 1670, and several other followed.

Ironically, the French, who drove the British to Portugal, today drink three times as much Port as the British! But, of course, the French have the highest per capita consumption of wine in the world.

Update: Thanks to Jonathan for informing me that I had forgotten the link to the essay. I have added it above.

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