The Politics of Wine in 18th-century England

After the upheavals of 1688, England’s shifting social order needed new ways to define itself. A taste for fine claret became one such marker of wealth and power, as Charles Ludington explains.

An anonymous satire on the Excise Bill 1733 shows the Prime Minister Robert Wapole seated astride a wine barrel. His government's taxes on wine and tobacco were seen as an infringement of British liberty; the lion is constrained by continental clogs. British MuseumPolitical authority needs many props and in early 18th-century England claret was among them. Wine was symbolic of both the court and the church: the former because of its heavy use by the aristocracy and its importance as a source of royal revenue; the latter due to its central role in the Eucharist.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email if you have any problems.