No. 848: Mare Street, E2
Mare Street, London, E2. Photo © Roger Dean 2013
The Seven Curses of London – James Greenwood, 1869:
Mr. Cyrus Redding, in his evidence before a select committee, describes the mode by which wines are made by manufacturers in London. He stated that brandy cowl,—that is, washings of brandy-casks,— colouring, probably made of elderberries, logwood, salt-of-tartar, gum-dragon, tincture of red sanders or cudbear, were extensively used in preparing an article which sells as port. The entire export of port-wine is twenty thousand pipes, and yet sixty thousand, as given in evidence, are annually consumed in this country. As regards champagne, the same authority says: “In England champagne has been made from white and raw sugar, crystallised lemon or tartaric acid, water, home-made grape-wine, or perry, and French brandy. Cochineal or strawberries have been added to imitate the pinks. Such a mixture at country balls or dinners passes off very well; but no one in the habit of drinking the genuine wine can be deceived by the imposition. The bouquet of real champagne, which is so peculiar, it is repeated, cannot be imitated,—it is a thing impossible. Acidity in wine was formerly corrected in this country by the addition of quicklime, which soon falls to the bottom of the cask. This furnished a clew [sic] to Falstaff’s observation, that there was ‘lime in the sack,’ which was a hit at the landlord, as much as to say his wine was little worth, having its acidity thus disguised. As to the substances used by various wine-doctors for flavouring wine, there seems to be no end of them. Vegetation has been exhausted, and the bowels of the earth ransacked, to supply trash for this quackery. Wines under the names of British madeira, port, and sherry are also made, the basis of which is pale salt, sugar-candy; French brandy and port-wine are added to favor [sic] the deception. So impudently and notoriously are the frauds avowed, that there are books published called Publicans’ Guides, and Licensed Victuallers’ Directors, in which the most infamous receipts imaginable are laid down to swindle their customers.