Pride and Prejudice (1995 film)

With many sources of water known to be unsanitary and thus unpotable in times of yore, one would have been safer choosing an alcoholic beverage such as wine, port, or mead during and after a meal. For the upper classes, wines were served throughout dinner, while middle and lower classes would substitute expensive wines for port, sherry, ale, cider, or perhaps mead. The offering after dinner said as much about the household’s affluence as the meal’s quality and abundance. If a generous host offered whiskey or brandy to the gentlemen and wine to the ladies, that was a dinner not to be missed!

But the real question: How did they taste compared to the vintages of today? Then, as now, the enjoyment of the libation was a matter of preference. While the small batch manufacturing processes in place today may not differ much from two hundred years ago, the quality and purity of ingredients have impacted the taste of the finished goods—perhaps to the extent that your beverage of choice today may not have been the same back then.

Ladies separated from the gentlemen after dinner, leaving them to blow a cloud and drink stronger spirits. In my upcoming book, Crossing Lengths and Breadths: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary, Mary and Charlotte remain with the gentlemen for a glass of whiskey before joining the ladies in the drawing room. How scandalous even to consider the fairer sex intruding on this masculine province! I confess this was my favorite scene to write. The setting was rich with the heady scent of cigars and mingled with whiskey decanted into the fine crystal glasses. As for the discussion that ensued, I will not divulge that here!

Kendra, “2004 Regency House Party,” May 8, 2018

I am particularly interested in mead. Today, as it was then, it is often made with honey, water, and spices. So, I am pleased to see its popularity resurgence and sold at many apiaries.

On a more personal note, for those who know someone who brews beer or makes wine, the Black-Briar Mead recipe in The Elder Scrolls: The Official Cookbook is as delicious as the characters in Skyrim profess.

The Elder Scrolls: The Official Cookbook Amazon Link

Sources for After Dinner Drinks:

Knowles, Rachel “Drink at the Regency dinner table – a Regency History guide,” Regency History, September 30, 2021

Rowlandson, Thomas “Regency drinks,” Jane Austen’s World, November 26, 2009

Jeffers, Regina “Consumption of Alcohol During the Regency Era” Every Woman Dreams… August 1, 2022

Ford, Janet “Food and drink in 17th and 18th-century inns and alehouses,” History is Now Magazine, June 7, 2014

16 responses to “After Dinner Drinks”

  1. Alice McVeigh Avatar

    I read – somewhere, can’t remember where – that the wine in this period were much less strongly alcoholic than most wines today, at 11 or 12%. (And Fanny Price still had hers watered-down!) You’d probably know if this was true?

    1. kimbelle1 Avatar

      Hi Alice! What a great question! I wish I could give you a more definitive reply, for I only read that while it was easy to determine what drink was stronger, they did not have the same regulation to put the alcohol-per-volume percentage. I, therefore, must agree with your friend! The ciders, wines, and sherries were very likely of similar to those of today’s, perhaps even so were the meads. However, if one were to gauge how strong they were, if, say, in comparison to a whiskey? Nearly anything readily available in a lady’s drawing room would have seemed weaker in alcohol content. I apologize for not being of greater help. If you ever find the answer, please, do let us know!

      1. Alice McVeigh Avatar

        I googled in vain, but well done you for all the research you’ve done!

      2. Alice McVeigh Avatar

        Thanks for your honesty!! XAlice

      3. triciamansouriangmailcom Avatar

        Love this article

  2. Glynis Avatar

    I’m so glad we don’t have to rely on alcohol as an alternative to tea and coffee nowadays. I certainly couldn’t drink mead. In the seventies we went to Cornwall with another couple and spent a few evenings in a local pub. The landlord treated us to a free glass of mead, alas neither of the men could drink it so us two girls had to drink two each rather than offend! I found it way, way too sweet and sickly and have never touched it since!

    1. kimbelle1 Avatar

      It is true, Glynis, it is sweet, and there are some who make it so that you only taste the honey flavor, but I do hope that others may find in it a perfect dessert vintage to enjoy after a meal full of heavy sauces and horrid dishes, such as those with fish and veggies! Of course, I jest, but there are times, on a late summer evening that I prefer a mead over other options. I must admit, too, that I would be quite lost if ever I had to give up coffee or tea!

  3. Regina Jeffers Avatar

    First, thanks for the mention in your sources. Great piece, BTW.
    I live near Charlotte, North Carolina. It is one of the largest craft beer cities in the U.S. In truth, I am not a big drinker, even less so since I was diagnosed as a Type 2 diabetic, but there are a couple of those listed I would not mind trying, but more of a couple of sips than the whole glass.

    1. kimbelle1 Avatar

      Regina, you have so many wonderful blogs, and they are always among the first I choose when I am researching a project! I would gladly share with you a sip of one and finish off the rest, any of them you might wish to try! Then, of course, I would hand you my glass of water for you to have that one, too~

  4. JC White Avatar
    JC White

    I have the Elder Scrolls Cookbook but haven’t tried any of the recipes yet. Need to get cooking.

    1. kimbelle1 Avatar

      Oh, Uncle Jeff, the Braised Rib Stew with Farro and the Cheese Scones? Oh, you would not, could not be disappointed! I love that cookbook! Any who love to cook should pick up the gaming cookbooks! The Hero’s Feast DragonLance Cookbook is also full of treats! Love you and thank you for reading the blog~

  5. cindie snyder Avatar
    cindie snyder

    I am not a drinker but this was a very well researched blog! Lots of interesting info!

    1. kimbelle1 Avatar

      I often have to believe that those who did not like the taste of alcohol usually preferred the ciders and meads, coffees and chocolate to the sherry, ale, and ports? I thank you for the click and comment, and I’m glad you found it worth reading~

  6. Riana Everly Avatar

    Interesting! I once started reading a book about the history of spirits, but never finished it. There was a lot in there about how flavours changed and were refined over the decades.

    1. kimbelle1 Avatar

      Much of my research says the same! But I do like knowing what they might have enjoyed in the Regency era, and also what they may have just missed out on the chance to have in the decanter!

  7. kimbelle1 Avatar

    triciamansouriangmailcom, thank you for sharing your thoughts on it! I am glad that you stopped by and hope you enjoy all of the musings from the amazing authors we are surrounded by on this blog~

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