“In Vino Veritas”: Quotes About Wine
Wine Comes In At The Mouth
"Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That's all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh."
-- William Butler Yeats."
"The wine urges me on, the bewitching wine, which sets even a wise man to singing and to laughing gently and rouses him up to dance and brings forth words which were better unspoken." ---Homer,The Odyssey, bk. XIV, l. 463
This, the second in our "joy of quoting" articles takes a look at wine and our relationship to it through the ages.
It shouldn't come as any surprise to find the greatest minds of every age had something to say on this subject.
“In vino veritas.” (In wine there is truth.) – Pliny, the Elder, 23-79 A.D.
Some claim to drink wine for the taste, alone. These people, or connoisseurs (those that know) as they insufferably like to deem themselves, tend to have a lot of rules about what wine goes with what food, how it should be opened, – “do let it breathe”— the mechanics of proper tasting, and what words should be used to describe the taste.
They can speak of years, vintages, regions, cultivars, Cru and Grande Cru -- all that stuff.
They sniff at corks, roll wine round their mouths, chew at it and then either approve or disapprove. Each mouthful, the tell us resounds of richness, depth, flavor, intensity, balance, finesse, finish, fruit, tannins and (sigh of bliss) "mouth-feel." And on top of all this they ask for a "good body" as well. (I don’t know about the rest of you, but I like to smile, nod and try to look agreeable at this point – opening my mouth only to sip a bit of the wine. I’m not knowledgeable about these things, am already as refined as I ever care to be and just want a buzz with my dinner.)
I trust them not. I have seen them extolling the virtues of the wine, besotted, bleary eyed and well beyond the ability to speak the name, let alone taste its intricacies.
Now when I buy wine, I look for very different qualities. Is it on sale? Is the spigot on the box non-drip?
"Anyone who tries to make you believe that he knows all about wines is obviously a fake." -- Leon Adams, The Commonsense Book of Wine
“When I find someone I respect writing about an edgy, nervous wine that dithered in the glass, I cringe. When I hear someone I don't respect talking about an austere, unforgiving wine, I turn a bit austere and unforgiving myself. When I come across stuff like that and remember about the figs and bananas, I want to snigger uneasily. You can call a wine red, and dry, and strong, and pleasant. After that, watch out....” --Kingsley Amis, Everyday Drinking
The world's earliest known wine jar (more than 7000 years old, ca. 5400-5000 B.C.) and a similarly dated sherd from another reconstructed wine jar have been made famous following the discovery of wine residue on the sherd.
Not surprisingly, man has reflected on his love affair with the “noble” grape since the beginning of history and, one suspects, even before that. Who was the first to come across some overripe and rotten grapes and eat them, discovering that side effect of fermentation, alcohol?
"Wine can of their wits the wise beguile,
Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile." - Homer, "Odyssey” (9th c. B.C.)
“Quickly, bring me a beaker of wine, so that I may wet my mind and say something clever.” -- Aristophanes quotes 450-385 BC)
"No thing more excellent nor more valuable than wine
was ever granted mankind by God." -- Plato, 400 BC
"Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more." - Proverbs 31:6-7:
"No one that has drunk old wine wants new; for he says, "The old is nice.""-- Luke 5:39
"When there is plenty of wine, sorrow and worry take wing." - Ovid, "The Art of Love" (c. A.D. 8)
An ancient Persian fable credits a lady of the court with the discovery of wine. This Princess, having lost favor with the King, attempted to poison herself by eating some table grapes that had "spoiled" in a jar. She became intoxicated and giddy and fell asleep. When she awoke, she found the stresses that had made her life intolerable had dispersed. Returning to the source of her relief, her subsequent conduct changed so remarkably that she regained the King's favor. He shared the lady's discovery with his court and decreed an increase in the production of "spoiled" grapes...
- Here is a link to a history of wine, as put together by the Professional Wine Lovers Assoc, called Wine History 101.
Some of the most famous people of history drank wine:
"The wine-cup is the little silver well,
Where truth, if truth there be, doth dwell." --- William Shakespeare, 1564-1616
"He who loves not wine, women and song remains a fool his whole lifelong." --Martin Luther, 1777
"Wine rejoices the heart of man and joy is the mother of all virtues." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1771
"Clearly, the pleasures wines afford are transitory - but so are those of the ballet, or of a musical performance. Wine is inspiring and adds greatly to the joy of living." --- Napoleon, 1769-1821
"Within the bottle's depths, the wine's soul sang one night." --- Charles Baudelaire, 1821-1867
"With wine in hand, one reaches the happy state - where men are wise, women beautiful; and even one's children begin to look promising." – unknown
Wine -- in the words of George Gordon Noel Byron: Lord Byron, English philosopher, poet and bon vivant (1788-1824)
"Few things surpass old wine; and they may preach Who please, the more because they preach in vain,…Let us have wine and women, mirth and laughter, Sermons and soda-water the day after."
"Which cheers the sad, revives the old, inspires The young, makes Weariness forget his toil, And Fear her danger; opens a new world When this, the present, palls."
"Sweet is old wine in bottles, ale in barrels."
Wine for the new republic ...
Thomas Jefferson took up residence in the President’s House in 1801, after his inauguration as the 3rd President of the United States.
“He (Jefferson) ran the place with only eleven servants (Abigail Adams had needed 30!), brought up from Monticello. There were no more powdered wigs, much less ceremony. Washington and Adams, according to Republican critics, had kept up almost a royal court. Jefferson substituted Republican simplicity - to a point. He had a French chef, and French wines he personally selected. His salary was $25,000 per year - a princely sum, but the expenses were also great. In 1801 Jefferson spent $6500 for provisions and groceries, $2700 for servants (some of whom were liveried), $500 for Lewis’s salary, and $3,000 for wine.”
Benjamin Franklin, (1706-1790) American Renaisance man and founding father of the nation had much to say on the subject of wine.
"The discovery of a wine is of greater moment than the discovery of a constellation. The universe is too full of stars."
"There cannot be good living where there is not good drinking."
"Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance"
"Take counsel in wine, but resolve afterwards in water."
“We hear of the conversion of water into wine at the marriage in Cana as of a miracle. But this conversion is, through the goodness of God, made every day before our eyes. Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, and which incorporates itself with the grapes, to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.”
"I think it is a great error to consider a heavy tax on wines as a tax on luxury. On the contrary, it is a tax on the health of our citizens." Thomas Jefferson
"No nation is drunken where wine is cheap,
and none sober where the dearness of wine substitutes
ardent spirits as the common beverage.
Wine brightens the life and thinking of anyone."
"I have lived temperately....I double the doctor's recommendation of a glass and a half of wine each day and even treble it with a friend."
"By making this wine vine known to the public, I have rendered my
country as great a service as if I had enabled it to pay back the national debt"
Is France the country that produces the most wine?
Wine and health
"It is well established now that moderate alcohol drinkers live longer than abstainers or heavy drinkers.More than 400 studies over the past 70 years have analyzed the health benefits of drinking wine which show that moderate drinking of red wine helps prevent heart disease, cancer, and other conditions. Most of the pathogens that threaten humans are inhibited or killed off by the acids and alcohols in wine. Because of this, wine was considered to be a safer drink than much of the available water up until the 18th century. Until the 20th century, hospitals and private doctors relied on wine to treat all sorts of ailments. White wines were prescribed as diuretics, red Burgundies for dyspepsia, red Bordeaux for stomach disorders, and Champagne for nausea and catarrh. Today wine is still a component in many medications."
In many not-so-humble opinions, France does produce the best
Some years ago, I worked in Paris, and after the audit was finished, I rented a car and toured the country for a month. It was a lovely, hedonistic holiday and an educational one. I learned much of wine and food, two things at which the French excel, Mostly, I learned I liked both -- a lot.
"Bacchus, we thank who gave us wine
Which warms the blood within our veins;
That nectar is itself divine.
The man who drinks not, yet attains
By godly grace to human rank
Would be an angel if he drank."
--- Pierre Motin
"God made only water, but man made wine."
--- Victor Hugo, 1856
"Wine... the intellectual part of the meal...."
--- Alexandre Dumas
"I serve your Beaune to my friends, but your Volnay I keep for myself."
"If God forbade drinking, would He have made wine so good?"
--- Cardinal Richeleu
"For a chase, the Cardinal recommends his excellent '24 Cabernet."--- Porthos in the Three Musketeers
"The best use of bad wine is to drive away poor relations."
--- French proverb
Italy though smaller in size than France and California is the world’s largest wine producing country. With 20 wine regions stretching from its north to south end, Italy also offers the most variety of wines.
“L'acqua fa male e il vino fa cantare."
"L'acqua fa male e il vina fa catare" -- Italian proverb (Water is bad for you and wine makes you sing.)
“I feast on wine and bread, and feasts they are.” -- Michelangelo, 1475-1564)
“Wine is sunlight, held together by water.”-- Galileo Galilei, (1564-1642)
“And that you may the less marvel at my words, Look at the sun's heat that becomes wine when combine with the juice that flows from the vine.” -- Dante Alighieri, (1265-1321)
"Men are like wine – some turn to vinegar, but the best improve with age." – Pope John XXIII
“He is a fool who boasts of four things: that he has good wine, a good horse, a handsome wife, and plenty of money”. Italian Proverb
The world's top five largest wine producing countries:
The world's top five largest wine exporting countries:
Who drinks the most wine?
Wine reflected in the arts
Just as film and books reflect our society back to us, the arts also mirror our fascination with wine. Here are some memorable quotes.
"My dear girl, there are some things that are just not done, such as drinking Dom Perignon '53 above the temperature of 38° Fahrenheit." --- James Bond in Ian Fleming's Goldfinger
"What contemptible scoundrel stole the cork from my lunch?" --- Larson E. Whipsnade (W.C. Fields) in You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man 1938
"This wine is too good for toast-drinking, my dear. You don't want to mix emotions up with a wine like that. You lose the taste." --- Count Mippipopolous in The Sun Also Rises, 1926, by Ernest Hemingway
"During one of my treks through Afghanistan, we lost our corkscrew. We were compelled to live on food and water for several days." --- Cuthbert J. Twillie (W.C. Fields) in My Little Chickadee, 1940
"…then the streams would run with wine instead of water and the whole forest would give itself up to jollification for weeks on end." ~ C. S. Lewis in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
"I like to drink wine more than I used to ..." Don Corleone. "It's good for you, pop." Michael Corleone – The Godfather
“Wine is like people. The wine takes all the influences in life all around it, it absorbs them and it gets its personality." French Kiss (1995) – Luc (Kevin Kline)
“A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.”
Silence of the Lambs (1991) – Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins)
“I myself subscribe more to the European philosophy of life, my priorities leaning towards wine, women and, well that's about it.” -- Alfie (2004) – Alfie (Jude Law)
"Let me show you how this is done. First thing, hold the glass up and examine the wine against the light. You're looking for color and clarity. Just, get a sense of it. OK? Uhh, thick? Thin? Watery? Syrupy? OK? Alright. Now, tip it. What you're doing here is checking for color density as it thins out towards the rim. Uhh, that's gonna tell you how old it is, among other things. It's usually more important with reds. OK? Now, stick your nose in it. Don't be shy, really get your nose in there. Mmm... a little citrus... maybe some strawberry... [smacks lips] ... passion fruit... ... and, oh, there's just like the faintest soupçon of like asparagus and just a flutter of a,... like a ... nutty Edam cheese... Miles Raymond, Sideways
“I never drink…wine.” -- Dracula (1931) – Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi)
Foolish wine quotes:
- Due to the heavy wine fog all further thoughts have been temporarily suspended
- Wine improves with age, the older I get the better I like it
- Like a fine wine I'm not getting older, I'm becoming more complex
- I only drink wine on days ending in "y"
My personal favorites
“Men are like a fine wine. They all start out like grapes, and it's our job to stomp on them and keep them in the dark until they mature into something you'd like to have dinner with.” -- Kathleen Mifsud
“I cook with wine; sometimes I even add it to the food.” -- W. C. Fields, 1880-1946)
A final thought
"They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate:
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate.
They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream." -- Ernest Dowson