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Quotations about Wine
[I]t was only of late I let
I cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food. ~W.C. Fields
When I am asked, as I sometimes am, what is the bottle of wine I have most enjoyed, I have to answer that it was probably some anonymous Italian fiasco that I drank one starlit Tyrrhenian night under a vine-covered arbour, while a Neapolitan fiddler played "Come Back to Sorrento" over the veal cutlet of the young woman I had designs on, and all the world was twenty years younger. Or, now I come to think of it, the bottle of cheap and dubious St Emilion that was all that the pub across the road had to offer when my wife and I had our first restaurant meal together after our son was born....
For not only is taste in wine as subjective as taste in women, but its enjoyment depends more on circumstances than does that of almost any other pleasure. ~Cyril Ray (1908–1991), "The Wine when it is Red," In a Glass Lightly, 1967
Dinners are defined as 'the ultimate act of communion;' men that can have communion in nothing else, can sympathetically eat together, can still rise into some glow of brotherhood over food and wine. ~Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution: A History, Vol. 1: The Bastille, Book VII: The Insurrection of Women, Chapter II: O Richard, O My King, 1837
A bunch of grapes is beautiful, static, and innocent. It is merely fruit. But when it is crushed it becomes an animal, for the crushed grapes become wine and wine has an animal life.
Wine suffers a heaving birth. It has a rough, groping childhood. It develops into adolescence. Then, if it does not sicken, it matures; and in this it is almost human since it does not mature according to a fixed rule but according to the law of its particular and individual personality. The act which gives it personality is the act of fermentation. In this metamorphosis it is changed from fruit into animal; sometimes even into an animal of splendour.
~William Younger (1917–1961), Gods, Men, and Wine [Published posthumously in 1966. You may in some places find this book under the author name of William Mole, which was Younger's pseudonym when writing detective fiction. Younger was Dennis Wheatley's step-son.
Every so often, it is meet and proper to once again examine a peculiar subgenre of the English language—and of the American language as well—that has flowered wildly in recent years, like some pulpy jungle plant. It's called winespeak.
Winespeak is a branch (tendril?) of the mother tongue that seeks to render the sensory experiences triggered by wine into comprehensible words. You know—to explain what it tastes like. Winespeak leans heavily on metaphor. Or is it analogy?
A wine esthete pokes his sensitive beak into a glass of Champagne. Then, head thrown back, eyes closed, and visage wreathed in an other-worldly smile, he incants: "I see... I see... yes, I see a young girl in white, barefooted, running across a vast green lawn, long hair flowing." That's metaphor. Another initiate sniffs a white wine of questionable provenance. "Broccoli," he says, and tosses it out. That's analogy.
~Frank J. Prial (1930–2012), "Words, Words, Words," March 1987, reprinted in Decantations: Reflections on Wine, 2001
Okay, so it has sophisticated assertiveness, presumptuous breeding, crisp authority, complex balance, elegant power, and respected finesse: What does it taste like? ~Marvin O. Myers
Where the hostess is handsome the wine is good. ~French proverb
'Tis said that kings are pressing with the bowl,
And wring with wine the secrets from the soul
They wish to fathom to its depths; and view,
If fit or not for friendship; false or true.
~Quintus Horatius Flaccus (Horace, b. 65 BC), Epistles, interpreted by David Hunter (1838)
Wine is a turn-coat, first a friend, then an enemy. ~French proverb
Wine is a magician, for it loosens the tongue and liberates good stories. ~A Book of Old Songs, Healths, Toasts, Sentiments and Wise Sayings Pertaining to the bond of Good Fellowship, 1901
There are spunky little angels at the top of a bottle of wine and fearless little devils at the bottom. ~Terri Guillemets
When wine enters modesty departs. ~Italian Proverb
Wine exalts the fantasy, makes the memory lucid, increases happiness, alleviates pain, and destroys melancholy. It reconciles dreams, comforts old age, aids convalescence, and gives that sense of euphoria by which life is made to run smoothly, tranquilly, and lightly. ~Jack David Lazarus Holmes (1930–1990)
I drink wine because I don't like to keep things bottled up. ~Author Unknown
Wine in, truth out. ~English proverb
His goblet shivers while he speaks the word,—
"If wine tells truth,—and so have said the wise,—
It makes me laugh to think how brandy lies!..."
~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr, Songs in Many Keys, "Pictures from Occasional Poems: The Banker's Dinner," 1861
Beer is liquid frivolity
Wine, scarlet truth.
You put it in new words, but it is an old thought. This is one of the disadvantages of wine. It makes a man mistake words for thoughts. ~Samuel Johnson, 1778, quoted by James Boswell in The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. (1791)
If you wish to keep your affairs secret, drink no wine. ~Proverb
Lord, give me coffee to change the things I can change, and wine to accept the things that I can't. ~Internet joke, c.2013
He was a connoisseur in wines, and was diligent in tending his own vineyard. He used to say that wine is a compound of humour and light; and Viviani has preserved one of his recipes—for wine of the best quality, that juices only should be taken which is pressed out by the mere weight of the heaped grapes of the ripest kind. ~John Joseph Fahie, Galileo: His Life and Work, 1903 [Sorry, friends, I know that wine's description as "sunshine held together by water" is a popular one, but I cannot find evidence that either Galileo Galilei or Louis Pasteur authored it.
A meal without wine is like a day without sunshine. ~Italian proverb
A drunken man is fitly named: he has drank, till he is drunken: the wine swallows his consciousness, and it sinks therein. ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827
When wine sinks, words swim. ~English proverb
All that is often necessary to occasion a flow of ideas and fancies, is to increase or accelerate the tide of blood in the veins. Happiness, in the sense of pleasurable sensation, is produced in partly the same manner; a bottle of wine, it has been said, affording as much enjoyment for the time as the acquisition of a kingdom. ~William Benton Clulow, Horæ Otiosæ, 1833, and Aphorisms and Reflections, 1843 [See Landor's Imaginary Conversations.
Taylor concentrates on the best of the French-American hybrids. His bottles proudly bear both the vintage date and the varietal name. "A wine label is like a person's face," says Taylor. "It should tell you what you want to know about him." ~Wine Buyers Guide (Fadiman, Aaron, Geis), 1977 [Quoting Walter S. Taylor (1931–2001) of Bully Hill Vineyards, a.k.a. the Baron of Bully Hill
A man who was fond of wine was offered some grapes at dessert after dinner. "Much obliged," said he, pushing the plate aside; "I am not accustomed to take my wine in pills." ~Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, A Handbook of Gastronomy (Physiologie du goût), 1825, translated from French
Wine is how classy people get wasted. ~Author Unknown
Don't you hate people who drink white wine? I mean, my dear, every alcoholic in town is getting falling-down drunk on white wine. They think they aren't drunks because they only drink wine. Never, never trust anyone who asks for white wine. It means they're phonies. ~Bette Davis
Sotmore: Wine is the fountain of thought; and
The more we drink,
The more we think.
It is a question with me, whether wine hath done more good, or physick harm in the world; I wou'd have every apothecary's shop in the town turn'd into a tavern.
Hilaret: I am afraid, the more you have of the one, the more you will need of the other.
Sotmore: It is their drugs that debauch our wine: wine in itself is as innocent as water, and physick poisons both. It is not the juice of the grape, but of the drug, that is pernicious. Let me advise you, Madam, leave off your damn'd adulterated water, your tea, and take to wine. It will paint your face better than vermilion, and put your honesty in your heart than all the sermons you can read. I'll introduce you to some clubs of my acquaintance, a set of honest fellows that live in the clouds of tobacco, and know no home but a tavern.
~Henry Fielding, The Coffee-House Politician; or, The Justice Caught in His Own Trap, 1730
Man, being reasonable, must get drunk;
The best of life is but intoxication:
Glory, the grape, love, gold, in these are sunk
The hopes of all men, and of every nation;
Without their sap, how branchless were the trunk
Of life's strange tree, so fruitful on occasion!
But to return,—Get very drunk; and when
Yon wake with headache, you shall see what then.
~George Gordon Byron, Don Juan
[A] hangover is the wrath of grapes. ~Youngman 1987
For some obscure reason, some authorities seem bent on making the drinking of wine a ritual more complicated than chess. They have succeeded in inhibiting a large section of the public and depriving them of one of the greatest pleasures known to man. ~Craig Claiborne, New York Times Cookbook
Those who drink Wine, &c. for the purpose it was given, as a Cordial, to cheer the Circulation, when it falters from Fatigue, Age, or profuse Evacuations of any kind... and for our "often infirmities" as a medicine — will understand, that of all the ways of saving, to run any risk of buying inferior Wine, is the most ridiculously unwise Economy. ~William Kitchiner (1775–1827), "Wine," The Art of Invigorating and Prolonging Life, by Food, Clothes, Air, Exercise, Wine, Sleep, &c. and Peptic Precepts, Pointing Out Agreeable and Effectual Methods to Prevent and Relieve Indigestion, and to Regulate and Strengthen the Action of the Stomach and Bowels, c.1821 [Kitchiner has a chart in this book, which I like to call a "drunk meter," and it shows the moral and physical effects of various beverages on humans — from water (health & wealth) and small beer (reputation, long life, & happiness) to toddy and crank (punishments of debt & black eyes) to whisky taken during the day and night (murder & gallows). Fascinating image — I'll post it someday to my old book screenshots.
A cup of wine is medicine, a gallon of wine is ruin. ~Korean proverb
Wine, it's in my veins and I can't get it out. ~Oliver Burgess Meredith
Of wine the middle, of oil the top, and of honey the bottom is best. ~Italian proverb
Alcohol makes other people less tedious, and food less bland, and can help provide what the Greeks called entheos, or the slight buzz of inspiration when reading or writing. The only worthwhile miracle in the New Testament—the transmutation of water into wine during the wedding at Cana—is a tribute to the persistence of Hellenism in an otherwise austere Judaea. The same applies to the seder at Passover, which is obviously modeled on the Platonic symposium: questions are asked (especially of the young) while wine is circulated. No better form of sodality has ever been devised: at Oxford one was positively expected to take wine during tutorials. The tongue must be untied. ~Christopher Hitchens, Hitch-22: Some Confessions and Contradictions, 2010
I quote my soul
I quote my heart
But sometimes I just quote the wine.
Wine makes a man better pleased with himself. I do not say that it makes him more pleasing to others.... Wine gives a man nothing. It neither gives him knowledge nor wit; it only animates a man, and enables him to bring out what a dread of the company has repressed. It only puts in motion what has been locked up in frost.... A man should cultivate his mind so as to have that confidence and readiness without wine, which wine gives. ~Samuel Johnson, 1778, quoted by James Boswell in The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. (1791)
Fine craft beers—
merry bottle openers of poetry;
Aromatic vino of
dreamy garnet red—
no better corkscrew!
~Terri Guillemets, "Wine: The Corkscrew of Poetry," 2012
Fire tests metal, wine tests men. ~Japanese proverb
[W]e look timidly forward, with a spark of hope, to where the new lands, already weary of producing gold, begin to green with vineyards.... Those lodes and pockets of earth, more precious than the precious ores, that yield inimitable fragrance and soft fire; those virtuous Bonanzas, where the soil has sublimated under sun and stars to something finer, and the wine is bottled poetry: these still lie undiscovered; chaparral conceals, thicket embowers them; the miner chips the rock and wanders farther, and the grizzly muses undisturbed. But there they bide their hour, awaiting their Columbus; and nature nurses and prepares them. The smack of Californian earth shall linger on the palate of your grandson. ~Robert Louis Stevenson, "In The Valley: Napa Wine," The Silverado Squatters, 1883
Drink—wine dissipates sorrow! ~Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre (1737–1814), "Of the Sentiments of the Divinity, and of our Misery"
Man drinks wine, then wine drinks wine, then wine drinks man. ~Japanese proverb
A bottle of wine is her autobiography: uncorked at birth, drunk to the last drop — an empty vessel all to show for it. ~Terri Guillemets
Often has bright-hued Love with soft arms drawn to him and embraced the horns of Bacchus as he there reclined: and when wine has sprinkled Cupid's thirsty wings, he abides and stands o'erburdened, where he has taken his place. He indeed quickly shakes out his dripping plumes, yet does it hurt even to be sprinkled on the breast with love. Wine gives courage and makes men apt for passion; care flees and is drowned in much wine. Then laughter comes, then even the poor find vigour, then sorrow and care and the wrinkles of the brow depart. Then simplicity, most rare in our age, lays bare the mind, when the god dispels all craftiness. ~Publius Ovidius Naso (Ovid, b. 43 BCE), The Art of Love, translated from Latin by J.H. Mozley (1929)
Who loves not women, wine, and song, remains a fool his whole life long. ~German Proverb
First waft, the landscape ahead flashes before me
First sip, I stumble gently over the threshold
Each sip, one more step into another world
Tentative steps, then bold, then giddy skipping along the path,
One more sip....
~Terri Guillemets, "Red Wine"
Do you remember any great poet that ever illustrated the higher fields of humanity that did not dignify the use of wine from Homer on down? ~James A. McDougall
Wine and wealth change wise men's manners. ~English proverb
And the small ripple spilt upon the beach
Scarcely o'erpass'd the cream of your champagne,
When o'er the brim the sparkling bumpers reach,
That spring-dew of the spirit! the heart's rain!
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.
~George Gordon Byron, Don Juan
When the wine goes in, strange things come out. ~Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller, The Piccolomini, or the First Part of Wallenstein (first performed in 1799), Act II, Scene XII, spoken by the Master of the Cellar, translated from German by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1800)
If wine were a lecturer
I would attend her classes
And duly roll-call "here"
With a couple of full glasses.
"Bacchus (the proverb tells us) hath drowned more men than Neptune." I will not decide upon this; but I do not think there is any vice that is so thoroughly rooted, or more impudently pursued in the lower ranks of men than Drunkenness. If you ask them their reasons or views in it, they tell you, to bury their troubles, and destroy the remembrance of worldly disappointments; and since they cannot obtain contentment in the way Providence has laid down, they are resolved to set up a plan of their own. ~From a letter published in The London Magazine: Or, Gentleman's Monthly Intelligencer, November 1780, "Thoughts on Drunkenness and An Original Letter on the Same Subject" (Sobrietas)
Wine has drowned more men than the sea. ~John Bodenham, c.1598
If I drink enough fire wine, he told himself, perhaps I'll dream of dragons. ~George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons, 2011
Wine wears no breeches. ~English proverb
When wine has given indecent language birth,
And forced the flood-gates of licentious mirth...
~William Cowper, "Conversation"
Shall we not, then, lay down a law, in the first place, that boys shall abstain altogether from wine till their eighteenth year, thereby teaching that it is wrong to add fire to fire, as through a funnel, pouring it into their body and soul before they proceed to the labor of life, thus exercising a caution as to the maddening habits of youth. ~Plato, quoted in Day's Collacon: An Encyclopædia of Prose Quotations, Consisting of Beautiful Thoughts, Choice Extracts, and Sayings, of the Most Eminent Writers of All Nations, from the Earliest Ages to the Present Time, Together with a Comprehensive Biographical Index of Authors, and an Alphabetical List of Subjects Quoted, compiled and arranged by Edward Parsons Day, 1883
A good wine is like a gentle kiss, its effect throughout the meal is scintillatingly sensual in an elegantly understated way. ~Frances Tabeek
Good wine makes men's hearts rejoice. ~Roman proverb
Good wine makes good blood. ~Italian proverb
Wine makes old wives wenches. ~English proverb
"What sleep!" I said. "Surely this man does not dream.... A thousand gnawing cares, a thousand mortal sorrows await his return to consciousness; nevertheless, this evening he had a piece of money in his pocket, he entered a tavern where he purchased oblivion....."
And I... I do not sleep, I who have enough in my pocket at this moment to purchase sleep for a year; I am so proud and so foolish that I dare not enter a tavern, and I do not understand that if all unfortunates enter there, it is in order that they may come out happy. Oh! God! the juice of a grape crushed under the foot suffices to dissipate the deepest sorrow and to take all the invisible threads that the fates weave about our pathway. We weep like women, we suffer like martyrs; in our despair it seems that the world is crumbling under our feet and we sit down in our tears as did Adam at Eden's gate. And in order to cure our wound we have but to make a movement of the hand and moisten our throats. How pitiable our grief since it can be thus assuaged. We are surprised that Providence does not send angels to grant our prayers; it need not take the trouble, for it has seen our woes, it knows our desires, our pride and bitterness, the ocean of evil that surrounds us, and is content to hang a small black fruit along our paths.
Thus, inspired by a fierce joy, I set out in quest of a tavern. As it was past midnight some were closed; that put me in a fury. "What!" I cried, "even that consolation is refused me!" I ran hither and thither knocking at the doors of taverns crying: "Wine! Wine!"
At last I found one open; I called for a bottle and without caring whether it was good or bad I gulped it down; a second followed and then a third. I dosed myself as with medicine, and I forced the wine down as though it had been prescribed by a physician to save my life.
The heavy fumes of the liquor, which was doubtless adulterated, mounted to my head. As I had gulped it down at a breath, drunkenness seized me promptly; I felt that I was becoming muddled, then I experienced a lucid moment, then confusion followed. Then consciousness left me, I leaned my elbows on the table and said adieu to myself. ~Alfred de Musset, The Confession of a Child of the Century/La Confession d'un enfant du siècle, 1836, translated from French by Kendall Warren
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