In the Middle Ages, the wine had the highest social prestige of all beverages and was also regarded as the healthiest choice when it comes to choosing between different drinks. According to Galen’s theory, it should be considered as a “hot and dry” fluid … (hence the modern use of “dry wines” in describing the taste of wine that is not sweet).
These qualities were moderate when the wine was mixed with water before drinking, and this mixture was often made.
The properties of the wine were very different from those assigned to water or even to beer, which were considered both cold and moist. The consumption of wine in moderation (especially red wine), among other things, was taken as an aid to the digestion, to generate “good blood” and to clear the mood. The quality of the wine varied considerably depending on the grape harvest, the type of grape and, more importantly, the number of pressings made to the grape.
The first pressure was made to the finer and more expensive wines that were reserved for the higher classes. The second and third presses generated a content of low quality and with little ethyl alcohol. Ordinary people had to drink cheaper wine, such as white wines or elaborate pink wines with a second or third pressing, meaning that it could be consumed in quite abundant quantities without leading to alcoholic intoxication.
For the poorest and religious ascetics, it was sometimes taken almost at the border of what might be vinegar.
The aging of the high-quality red wines required specialized knowledge as well as an expensive storage and also an equipment prepared for that need, which resulted in an even more expensive and exclusive final product.
According to the numerous advice given in the medieval documents about how to save wine that begins to show signs that it is going to become bad, it shows us that wine preservation must have been a widespread and quite common problem at that time. Although vinegar was a common ingredient in many dishes, there was only so much of it that could be used at one time.
Spice was not only popular with everyday people but was also considered especially healthy by doctors. It was believed to facilitate digestion and to direct energy to every part of the body, and it was the belief that the addition of fragrant and exotic spices would make it even healthier.