While we can’t definitively prove that Jane Austen was ever actually drunk (though we can hope), we do know the woman was a fan of wine.
She famously complained to her sister about a hangover and faults “too much wine” for the cause of her morning shakes.
I believe I drank too much wine last night at Hurstbourne; I know not how else to account for the shaking of my hand today. You will kindly make allowance therefore for any indistinctness of writing, by attributing it to this venial error.
Letter to Cassandra (1800-11-20) [Letters of Jane Austen — Brabourne Edition]
Don’t know about you, but I would have loved to have been around Jane on a night where she got down so hard to woke up hungover.
She also clearly had standards for the wine she drank too, criticizing the choice of “orange wine” being offered. (For more info on Regency drinks check out this blog post.)
The pleasures of friendship, of unreserved conversation, of similarity of taste and opinions will make good amends for orange wine.
Letter to Cassandra (1808-06-20) [Letters of Jane Austen — Brabourne Edition]
But we can assume she was a fan of white wines.
Let me know when you begin the new tea, and the new white wine. My present elegancies have not yet made me indifferent to such matters. I am still a cat if I see a mouse.
Letter to Cassandra (1813-09-23) [Letters of Jane Austen — Brabourne Edition]
And I assume she was hoarding the white wine for herself while playing chaperone in the corner.
By the bye, as I must leave off being young, I find many douceurs in being a sort of chaperon, for I am put on the sofa near the fire and can drink as much wine as I like.
Letter (1813-11-06) on ageing [Letters of Jane Austen — Brabourne Edition]
(Doesn’t the image of Jane judging everyone from the corner and hoarding a bottle of wine bring you joy?)
Bonus: The woman also loved cake on a level I appreciate.
You know how interesting the purchase of a sponge-cake is to me.
Letter to Cassandra (1808-06-15) [Letters of Jane Austen — Brabourne Edition]
This July 18th, the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, we’re raising a glass to her, and that glass will most likely be full of wine, a detail she’d appreciate.
– Admin B