How to Choose Wine, 1689

painting of man watching woman drink from wineglass Jan Vermeer, The Glass of Wine (c. 1660)

Good Wine ought to be clean, pure, and clear, inclining to a red, called Claret, or Cherry-colour; but let it be of stony and mountainous Places, situate towards the South. Let it be of an excellent Odour, for such wine increases the subtill Spirits, nourishes excellently, and breeds very good Blood; let it be of a pleasant Taste, but let it by no means be too sharp or sweet, but of a middle temper, for if too sweet, it inflames, obstructs, and fills the Head, but the sharp or sowr Wine hurts the Nerves and Stomach, and begets Crudities… The gross, stinking, corrupted, flat Wines, are unpleasant to the Taste, and unwholesom; all which are to be avoided, for they cause the Head-ach, corrupt the Blood, breed melancholick Spirits, and in short, are destructive to the whole body.

John Chamberlayne, A Family-Herbal

Here’s a tip: if the sommelier tries to interest you in a gross, stinking, corrupted, flat wine, just say no.