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Uncorked! Wine, Objects & Tradition


Winterthur announces a major new exhibition, Uncorked! Wine, Objects & Tradition, a joyous celebration of objects and imagery created in response to society’s love of wine.

Featuring more than 300 objects, nearly all from Winterthur’s Museum and Library collections, Uncorked! explores how wine was marketed, consumed, and enjoyed in America and Britain from the 1600s through the 1800s. A wide range of materials are represented, from wine bottles, decanters, and cellarettes to lead figures of Bacchus and Champagne Charlie song sheets. Advertisements, trade cards, pattern books and other paraphernalia provide vivid examples of cultural values and attitudes of the times.

“The beautiful and sometimes humorous objects displayed in this exhibition, combined with the growing popularity of wine connoisseurship and history, make Uncorked! sure to attract a broad range of audiences, from the novice to the expert,” said Leslie Grigsby, Winterthur’s Senior Curator of Ceramics and Glass, who created the exhibition.

The events and programming for the exhibition feature wine dinners, wine cellar tours, evening regional winery tastings coupled with a jazz series, wine enthusiast-related workshops and education, and evening specialty connoisseurship and collector lectures. In addition, a lunchtime lecture series will be presented by wine historians, collectors, and curators of drinking vessels. The lecture topics are designed to entertain and enrich the audience’s understanding of wine and its colorful past.

Throughout history, alcoholic beverages frequently were accompanied by games or were the focus of the entertainment themselves. Uncorked! provides a glimpse into the lighter side of wine consumption as well as a look at some of the more serious aspects, such as when politics and alcohol intersected.

The exhibition is organized into six categories:

Classical References highlights connections between Greek and Roman wine vessels and deities and the design of later objects and ornamental motifs.

The Business of Wine considers how wine and related items were bought or sold and illustrates some “tricks of the trade” by which unscrupulous merchants increased profits.

Consumption & Equipage, the largest section of the exhibition, focuses on vessels associated with specific types of wine, settings where the drink was consumed, and the part wine played in social life.

Politics, Patriotism & Taxes features wine-related objects commemorating important political figures and events.

Religion provides a glimpse of vessels created for use in church as well as domestic items that reference prayers and clergy.

Temperance highlights objects that illustrate attempts over time to reduce drunkenness.

Highlights of the exhibition include: 18th- and 19th-century drinking game wares such as elaborate “puzzle jugs,” garden urns and sports trophies inspired by huge, bell-shaped krater vases that were originally employed for mixing wine and water in ancient Greece and Rome, a popular board game from the 1800s that teaches temperance to children, and a rare view of the interior of an English inn or tavern from the late 1700s as seen in a print entitled SETTLING the AFFAIRS of the NATION by Bowles and Carver.

The exhibition is accompanied by a full-color booklet featuring highlights of the show and an online exhibition, to be permanently available on the Winterthur website. Uncorked! is presented by M&T Bank and DuPont, with support from Bouchaine Vineyards, Gerret & Tatiana Copeland, Proprietors. For more about Uncorked! and a slideshow of selected objects, visit winterthur.org/uncorked.