I remember a friend describing me earlier as one having a reasonably developed palate. So when I was fussing over the wine at a restaurant the other day, it got me thinking – why did wine become such a synonym with fine living?
Sign of Prosperity – Even before medieval times, wine was not a drink for the poor, simply because of the cost of making and storing wine with its high chances of getting spoilt. Cheaper homemade alternatives were used by the mass, but wine was a sign of affluence. This was prevalent across Greece, Egypt and other cultures. It was the Romans who actually catapulted it to its current status. For an ordinary person, a simple association of the wealthy and powerful of the richest civilization with wine drinking would present a powerful image. Thanks to Roman colonization across Europe, especially Spain, Britain, and France, wine development had started and added to the popularity of wine.
Alternative to water – After the industrial revolution, water from natural sources was not drinkable in many places due to pollution, and transportation was not adequate to get pure water in quantities everywhere. Wine was considered as a healthier(!) option to available water and steadily became considered as part of the daily diet of the Europeans. Coffee would later replace wine as the drink during the day.
Taste – From early times, people did enjoy the taste of wine. This is partly because of its low alcohol content (Wine typically has 10% – 12.5% alcohol v/v), which allows the tongue to taste other flavors and partly because of the nature of the basic ingredient of wine. This also means most people can have some glasses of wine in a social gathering without acting unrefined, like throwing up or passing out, all the while showing off their skills at guessing the subtle wine flavors. It also does have some health benefits, especially in comparison to other alcoholic beverages of earlier times.