My bubbly musings


Women and Wine Clubs

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I am working on a bespoke presentation for a group of female partners in a law firm in New York. Normally they host an annual dinner for their closest female colleagues. This year, because of covid, they will be joining me virtually in Paris to learn about pairing champagne and food, and a bit about the role of women in the history of champagne. It occurred to me that 2000 years ago, we probably would have needed a lawyer if we did this!

The Greeks established the first male-only drinking clubs. They were called “symposia". Men got together to drink, eat, chat and most importantly, to network. Women could only participate as servers, musicians or prostitutes.


The Romans later had something similar called “convivia”, but prohibitions on female drinking were even more severe than those imposed by the Greeks: Roman women weren’t even allowed to serve wine. In fact, up until 194 BC, any woman found drinking could be put to death or divorced! The Romans later eased up on the rules and occasionally invited women to their convivia, but… they had to be single women. Married women were barred from any social gathering where wine was consumed because men feared women would commit adultery in their inebriated state.

I am looking forward to sharing my knowledge with these lawyers tonight. Hopefully I won’t need a lawyer to get us out of trouble tonight, or any other night that I host one of my champagne workshops! Cheers to progress and women who wine!

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