Class by the Glass: The Significance of Imported Wine Consumption in America, 1750-1800
Thomas, Catherine Stewart
Sies, Mary C
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This paper analyses the ritual of imported wine consumption in America between 1750 and 1800 and its significance in establishing a wealthy gentleman's power and place within a social hierarchy. My research was conducted by exploring contemporary written and visual records, as well as examining material objects and architectural spaces, specifically pertaining to the Annapolis, Maryland region. Beginning with a study of the varieties of wines consumed and their influence in the politically-charged environment prior to the American Revolution, the paper then explores why and how gentlemen used wine bibbing as an indication of one's identity in a burgeoning society. Quantities of wine-related furniture and decorative objects, in combination with architectural storage spaces, conveyed a life far above that of the average citizen. Finally, this paper examines to what degree historic house museums are interpreting the wine ritual and suggests steps that might be taken to do so more effectively.