Antiques Column: Widespread fashion for serving wine
I must admit, I do rather enjoy a glass of wine. In fact, I will go further, I absolutely love a glass of wine. In fact, I will go further still, on a lovely summer's evening, on a deck chair in the garden nothing is better (almost nothing) than a glass of perfectly chilled Sauvignon b lanc.
First produced in the late 17th century, wine coolers were part of a widespread fashion for serving chilled wine and punch.
They were introduced into Britain from France and made mostly by Huguenot Silversmiths.
Placed on the sideboard or table for chilling wine between servings, they remained popular throughout the 19th century.
Wine coolers developed from the wine cistern made in the 17th century.
The cistern was a very large and impressive oval silver basin, which stood on a spreading base and four feet with massive drop ring handles, or handles in the form of mythical creatures.
It was used for cooling several bottles of wine in ice or for washing glasses.
Few of these cisterns have survived though as they were melted down due to their high value as bullion.
In the 18th century cisterns for washing glasses became redundant owing to the production of larger sets of flatware and glasses and also due to their replacement with smaller single bottle wine coolers which could be set on the table instead of the sideboard.
During the mid 18th century there was a lull in the demand for wine coolers, probably due to increased popularity of claret and port, which was drunk at room temperature.
However, the cooler was revived in the 19th century with sets of four being particularly popular and many being made in Old Sheffield Plate.