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Friday, January 27

Port wine in Pride and Prejudice

Inquiring readers: Raquel Sallaberry from Jane Austen em Portugues contributed this interesting information about Port wine:

Last year when I drank a Port wine I vaguely remembered having read a mention about this wine in Jane Austen, but was not sure in which of the books. When we finished the bottle, I brought it home to photograph and do research.

Port wine became very popular in England after the Methuen Treaty in 1703, which allowed the importation of Portuguese's wines. Due to the war with France, they were less expensive than the French wines. The history of Port wine is very old, but the designation of this wine as "Port" began in the seventeenth century. It derives from the city of Porto in Portugal, from where it was shipped.

The only reference I found to Port wine on the work of Jane Austen was in Pride and Prejudice, chapter 16:
The officers of the —–shire were in general a very creditable, gentlemanlike set, and the best of them were of the present party; but Mr. Wickham was as far beyond them all in person, countenance, air, and walk, as they were superior to the broad-faced stuffy uncle Philips, breathing port wine, who followed them into the room.
| Chapter 16, Pride and Prejudice |
The passage below is in Portuguese (Portugal) translated by Leyguarda Ferreira, in 1949, to the Romano Torrres publisher.
Os oficiais do regimento eram todos perfeitos rapazes, mas Wickham excedia-os em distinção, na elegância do andar e dos gestos, na expressão agradável do semblante e nem podia ser comparado com o tio Philips, com as faces balofas, cheirando a vinho do Porto.
| trad. Leyguarda Ferreira, 1949 |

For the Jane Austen's description we can see how popular this wine was in England at that time. Uncle Phillips, who was not exactly a wealthy man, drank it a lot, but in reasonable quantities.

Another curious detail about the wine is the original spelling, which is all lowercase. This seems to contradict the well-known description of "Port Wine".

And finally, notice the coincidence of the names of the translator and producer of the wine: Ferreira!

To learn more about this special wine I recommend the wonderful Instituto do Vinho do Porto's site.

(Image: Porto wine's bottle and my Pride and Prejudice's Romano Torres edition)

1 comment:

Alexa Adams said...

I seem to recall that Beau Brummell disapproved of Port, thereby dealing a blow to its fashionability (at least while his reign lasted). I happen to adore Port and was lucky enough to drink a very fine and very old vintage over the holidays. Your post makes me salivate all over again. Great post, great memories, and a great drink! Thanks!

Oh, and I'd like to share my favorite Port quote, just for fun: "Higgins, at a time like this, it's positively indecent that you don't need a glass of port!" Colonel Pickering, My Fair Lady