Will Wayne Buckingham

Will Wayne Buckingham

Montanari’s chapter on wine is fascinating in the way that it details the changing significance, social associations and symbolism of wine. Wine is central to both the establishment of social hierarchies, through merely having wine, or by the quality of the wine or by the mixing of wine and water. Moreover its significance spread to the realms of religion, health and national identity (as Montanari mentions Christian Europe was “wine-drinking Europe”). it was interesting as well, in light if Ken Albala’s lecture the week before, to see the link between wine and humoral physiology, that “The more a wine was deeply coloured, sweet and aged, the more it was considered “hot” by nature. Inversely, wines held to be less “hot” were young wines that tended toward white and were acidic.” It really is interesting the extent to which the theme of identity runs throughout the readings and broader concept of feasting. The way that, as far back as the Romans, “wine, along with oil and bread, were taken … to represent … identity”.

 

Stretching back equally as far is the tradition of music and performance with Cummings quoting Phyllis Pray Bober as saying that “Plato’s symposium thus became “a poetic paradigm for future banquets”. Indeed Cummings writes that at one particular “1495 supper”, feature “Venus with Jupiter and Juno with fountains”, emphasising the importance of classical symbolism and iconography in the medieval feast. Scholars like Johannes Tinctoris also argue that music added to the sens of the event as a “convivium”, following in the Platonic model. Interestingly as well, whilst one might expect, as with music in a modern feasting setting that the music be the background to the main event that is the food, Cummings indicates that in fact the music was as integral a part of the feasting experience as music, with their often being as many musical performances as there were songs. We can see as well the fusion of these two elements in “Puisque vous estez campieur” with the references to drinking, presumably wine. Moreover this song’s reference to warriors brings in perhaps a political context (and links back with Montanari who tells us amusingly of a tale of an army that blamed its defeat on the poor availability of wine!), thus combining music, food and politics in true multi-faceted and multi-sensory feast fashion.