Monday, August 17, 2020


“Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards; there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.” – Benjamin Franklin, 1779.
Wine is one of the best pleasures left when you can't go out and have to stay separate from people. Drinking wine in moderation has made a lot of people just a little happier, me included. And wine has been a human pleasure for thousands of years -- the earliest being in China 9000 years ago. Thinking about wine, I decided to find a few images depicting wine in medieval times, beginning with a favorite tapestry showing wine making and wine drinking.

"Les  Vendanges" (the wine harvest) -- 16th Century Belgian Tapestry from the collection of the  Cluny Museum, Paris.
From "Les Vendanges" -- crushing the grapes.
From "Les Vendanges"

One of the Cluny Unicorn Tapestries.
The Cluny Museum of Medieval Art in Paris, owner of "Les Vendanges," is probably my favorite museum in any city in the world. We have visited there on every trip to Paris (except once, when they were closed for remodeling). The Cluny tapestries are the most spectacular part of their collection, the  most famous being the series called "The Lady and the Unicorn."

"Les Vendanges" is a very large weaving almost 5 meters in length and 2.5 meters high. I'm fascinated by the details of winemaking, storage, and wine drinking from the past, illustrated in its imagery. Of course I know that harvested grapes are no longer put in large vats where strong men trample them with bare feet to extract the juice; nevertheless, seeing the details of this method of making wine 500 years ago enriches my experience drinking wine: which I love to do!

Illustration of winemaking from "Tacuinum Sanitatis,"
a medieval work on health based on an Arab medical book.
Wine conservation from The Medieval Cookbook.

October wine harvest, from "Le Grand Calendrier," Troyes, 1541.

"Vendanges au Chateau" from Tournais in Belgium, a tapestry woven in 1520. 

At the moment French winegrowers are having a very rough time, while in our own shops, the French wines that we prefer are becoming hard to find. I read this in the New York Times: "The economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus, combined with the Trump administration’s 25 percent tax on French wines in the trade war dispute with Europe, has collapsed the [French] wine market." So I hope our happy enjoyment of French wine isn't disrupted.

I'm sharing these wine images from 500 years ago with Altered Book Lover and her "T is for Tuesday" blog event, where many other bloggers share images of drinks with one another.

Images of "Les Vendanges" and "Lady and the Unicorn  from Cluny Museum website. Other images from WikiArt. 
Blog post © 2020 mae sander for mae food dot blog spot dot com.


Iris Flavia said...

Did you know there is a The Simpsons episode on wine-making, too (in Italy, though)?

kathyinozarks said...

Hi I enjoyed all these lovely photos I enjoy wine too
Happy T

Linda Kunsman said...

What gorgeous tapestries!!! Thank you so much for sharing about the history of wine making, and the Cluny Museum. Happy T day!

My name is Erika. said...

I am going to keep that museum in mind for whenever I get back to Paris. That is a beautiful tapestry. I didn't know it was the Chinese who first made wine. I knew the ancient Egyptians made beer and thought maybe wine too. But guess not. Have a great T day. Hugs-Erika

Kate Yetter said...

What beautiful and detailed tapestries. I do not like wine so the process doesn't really interest me but I could look at these works of art all day long. Thanks for sharing them.

Happy Tea Day,

Nil @ The Little House by the Lake said...

I’ve been to Cluny museum once, and loved the tapestries there. I had a bunch of photos and lost everything when my external hard drive died. Thank you for sharing these photos. They brought back nice memories.

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

Every T Tuesday I learn something new and this is no different. I thoroughly enjoyed the wine history lesson and loved the tapestries and illustrations. Thanks beyond belief for sharing these with us for T this week, Mae. I also hope to get back by to see what I've recently missed, too.

Tandy | Lavender and Lime ( said...

The 1st World War had a great influence on wine making in France. I've just read that Spain has destroyed much of their wine grape harvest due to the virus. Here we are campaigning world wide for people to drink South African wine to save the industry, jobs and lives. BTW, I stomp grapes most years at a farm that still does this, but only to turn the cap.

Valerie-Jael said...

Very interesting, although I am not a big wine drinker. Happy T Day, Valerie

Divers and Sundry said...

I'll raise my glass of cabernet while I enjoy these lovely images. I'm sorry to hear about the effect these times are having on winegrowers.

Happy T Tuesday!

Karen said...

I love the old tapestries ~ I enjoy my wine as well! ~ Happy T day

Eileen Bergen said...

The tapestries are beautiful. We enjoy wine also. Imported wines are pretty pricey in Mexico, but we've a few from Australia and the US that we like. Affordable Mexican wines are harsh - high in sulfites I think.

Happy T-Day! Eileen

Let's Art Journal said...

Such beautiful tapestries! The level of detail on them is astounding and they are perfect for T Day 😀. Take care and Happy T Day wishes! Hugs, Jo x

DVArtist said...

Such a beautiful, and somewhat sad, post. The tapestries are magnificent. You are so fortunate to have seen them in person. The sad part of course is the tax on French wine and the loss of such a wine. Hoping that will change. Have a nice Tuesday.

CJ Kennedy said...

Beautiful tapestries. How cool to have seen them in person. Happy T Day!

Sharon Madson said...

Lovely photos and the subject is perfect for T Day! Happy Day!

Anne (cornucopia) said...

Fantastic medieval tapestries. I love them. Happy Belated T-Day!

pearshapedcrafting said...

I really love Mediaeval art and these tapestries are absolutely fabulous! I love the Cluny, I wasn't sure whether I would like the re-modeling but it really has made some things more accessible! Thanks for showing this - I really have missed visiting Paris this year! Hugs, Chrisx