Jane Austen

Wine and winners!

Earlier this week, I enjoyed an anniversary overnight with my husband in the Finger Lakes. Here’s the view from our room, across the vineyard and down to Seneca Lake. We had a lovely time and returned with two cases of wine. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve been visiting Finger Lakes wineries since my just-out-of-college days, when my wine knowledge was next to nil. I can honestly say that at most Finger Lakes wineries, there’s very little wine snobbery. Staff are friendly, happy to answer questions and help you discover what you like. I highly recommend taking a tour.

Finger Lakes winemakers have been working with reds for a while, with some success, but I still tend to prefer European reds. IMHO the Finger Lakes wineries are at their best with white wines. I love their Chardonnays and especially those that have undergone what is called “malalactic fermentation” which basically transforms fruity acidity to a rich, buttery acidity. Yum! Especially with rich seafood dishes. I’ve now tried Rieslings from other places and still think the Finger Lakes Rieslings are unmatched, as did Tim Patterson, a wine writer in Wines & Vines: โ€œMy due diligence completed, there was only one rational conclusion: The distinctive character of Finger Lakes Riesling comes from where the grapes are grown. Itโ€™s the terroir, stupid. Thereโ€™s only one growing area on the planet (so far) that regularly yields the distinctive balance of acid, alcohol, and texture that marks this bounty from this part of Upstate New York.โ€ These Rieslings are full of flavor, great with many foods or by themselves.

But enough about what I like. What did they drink during the Regency? When I first started reading Georgette Heyer’s books, I hadn’t a clue as to what some of the wine terms meant. Here’s a rundown, since some of these terms are no longer in common use.

“Hock” refers to white wine from Germany; the term comes from the name of the town Hochheim in the Reingau region. “Claret” is red Bordeaux, from that region in France (blends which may include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and other grapes). Burgundy was from Burgundy (made from blends including Pinot Noir), although now the term is sometimes used to denote a wine that may or may not be similar to the French wine.

Regency characters might also drink fortified wines, with a high alcohol content because they have distilled alchohol added. These included Madeira (made in the Madeira Islands, part of Portugal), port (from Portugal) or sherry (from Spain).

I don’t know if homemade wines were commonly drunk by the haut ton, but the gentry made such wines based on fruits and herbs. There’s a recipe for “Mrs Fowle’s Orange Wine” in The Jane Austen Cookbook, by Maggie Black and Deirdre Le Faye. It would be an interesting experiment to try. I suspect the result was pretty strong, since the last steps involve adding brandy.

Do you enjoy wine and what are your favorites? Have you ever tried wine-making?

But before we chat, here are the winners of the LADY DEARING’S MASQUERADE Kindle ebook giveaway:




Danielle Gorman


Congratulations! Please send your email and the email of a friend who you think might enjoy the Kindle ebook to elena @ elenagreene. com.



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11 years ago

I drink wine sometimes but not enough to really be able to differentiate between good and bad (unless it’s really, really terrible). I tend to prefer Riesling.

This got me thinking about ratafia; I couldn’t really remember what was in it, so I checked Wikipedia and found this tidbit: “The flavorings can potentially make this liqueur toxic, as peach and cherry kernels contain high levels of hydrogen cyanide.” As an avid murder mystery reader, I have to wonder if someone’s done something with that, hah.

(Also yay, Lady Dearing’s Masquerade is top of my TBR pile now.)

Dalila G.
11 years ago

Congrats to all the winners!
Happy reading! ๐Ÿ™‚

We really aren’t wine drinkers, but every now and again a wee sip never hurts!
We then to favor the sweet and fruity ones the most.

Dalila G.
11 years ago

Ooops….meant to say ‘tend’ not then.

11 years ago

thanks!!! I’m sure looking forward to reading this!! I live about 8 miles from 3 vineyards!!

11 years ago

Thanks so much will be sending my info shortly. I will have a glass of wine to celebrate.

Elena Greene
11 years ago

Sapskull (not that I feel comfortable addressing anyone that way!) thanks for the info on ratafia. I forgot about that one!

Dalila G, if you like sweet wines, have you ever tried a late harvest Riesling? Makes a lovely dessert wine, though so sweet that a little is plenty.

Girlygirl, which vineyards do you live near?

Cheers, Virginia!

Hope everyone enjoys the book. ๐Ÿ™‚

11 years ago

Congratulations to all the winners.

My mother’s cousin made dandelion wine. I was only a kid, so I had only a sip, but it was pretty good. We made wine once, a red. It was so many years ago, I have forgotten exactly what it was. It was OK, but wouldn’t win any ribbons.
The Highland Manor Winery in Jamestown, TN has some of the best wines we have ever tasted. We found it purely by accident and I am so glad we did. I haven’t tasted one of their wines I didn’t like. Their Cab Berry, named after their lab, is a nice red table wine. We need to make another trip there, I am out. We aren’t wine snobs. We just know what we like.

Elena Greene
11 years ago


IMHO that’s the way it should be, Pat, with wine and with books, come to think of it.

Dalila G.
11 years ago

Thank you for the tip Elena.
I will definitely be on the look-out for a late harvest Riesling. ๐Ÿ™‚

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Elena Greene
11 years ago

Um, I meant to quote Pat “We aren’t wine snobs. We just know what we like” but I guess Blogger ate it.

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