Shakespeare was known for his love of the sweet fortified wine (then called Malmsey) produced in Lanzarote, La Palma and Tenerife from the Malvasia grape. He referred to it as "Canary" and he was inspired to include it in his writing either referring to the drink or the lively Canarian dance. 20 million litres of Malmsey was imported into London during the 15th century via the new world trade routes before a dispute ended the import. Below are some quotations including the word canary:
All's Well That Ends Well - Lafeu
O, will you eat no grapes, my royal fox?
Yes, but you will my noble grapes, an if
My royal fox could reach them: I have seen a medicine
That's able to breathe life into a stone,
Quicken a rock, and make you dance canary,
With spritely fire and motion; whose simple touch,
Is powerful to araise King Pepin, nay,
To give great Charlemain a pen in's hand,
And write to her a love-line.
Love's Labour's Lost - Moth
No, my complete master: but to jig off a tune at
the tongue's end, canary, to it with your feet, humour
it with turning up your eyelids, sigh a note and
sing a note, sometime through the throat, as if you
swallowed love with singing love, sometime through
the nose, as if you snuffed up love by smelling
love; with your hat penthouse-like o'er the shop of
your eyes; with your arms crossed on your thin-belly
doublet like a rabbit on a spit; or your hands in
your pocket like a man after the old painting; and
keep not too long in one tune, but a snip and away.
These are complements, these are humours; these
betray nice wenches, that would be betrayed without
these; and make them men of note"do you note
me?" that most are affected to these.
Merry Wives of Windsor- Hostess Quickly
Marry, this is the short and the long of it; you
have brought her into such a canaries as 'tis
wonderful. The best courtier of them all, when the
court lay at Windsor, could never have brought her
to such a canary. Yet there has been knights, and
lords, and gentlemen, with their coaches, I warrant
you, coach after coach, letter after letter, gift
after gift; smelling so sweetly, all musk, and so
rushling, I warrant you, in silk and gold; and in
such alligant terms; and in such wine and sugar of
the best and the fairest, that would have won any
woman's heart; and, I warrant you, they could never
get an eye-wink of her: I had myself twenty angels
given me this morning; but I defy all angels, in
any such sort, as they say, but in the way of
honesty: and, I warrant you, they could never get
her so much as sip on a cup with the proudest of
them all: and yet there has been earls, nay, which
is more, pensioners; but, I warrant you, all is one with her.
Merry Wives of Windsor - Host
Farewell, my hearts: I will to my honest knight
Falstaff, and drink canary with him.
Twelfth Night - Sir Toby Belch
O knight thou lackest a cup of canary when did I
see thee so put down?
Twelfth Night - Sir Andrew Aguecheek
Never in your life, I think; unless you see canary,
put me down. Methinks sometimes I have no more wit
than a Christian or an ordinary man has: but I am a
great eater of beef and I believe that does harm to my wit.
Henry IV - Mistress Quickly
I' faith, sweetheart, methinks now you are in an excellent good temperality: your pulsidge beats as extraordinarily as heart would desire; and your colour, I warrant you, is as red as any rose, in good truth, la! But, i' faith, you have drunk too much canaries; and that's a marvellous searching wine, and it perfumes the blood ere one can say 'What's this?' How do you now?