Wine World: Reflections in the Glass

Georgia, Eastern Europe: the birthplace of wine over 6,000 years ago.

One of my favourite sayings about wine is “a meal without wine is like a day without sunshine.” The statement has been attributed to several different people, including Louis Pasteur (he of pasteurization and vaccination fame) or it could have been uttered by the splendidly named Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. He was not only a French lawyer and politician but also the author of the most famous book about food ever written, The Physiology of Taste. First published in 1825 and amazingly still in print, the book brought Brillat-Savarin world-wide recognition.

Last night, just for the fun of it, I began to assemble a collection of appealing wine quotations. It’s subjective of course, but offers some perceptions by interesting people. They range from the philosophical and noble, to the pithy and sometimes just pleasantly silly. Some have hidden meanings, but most of them invite you to stop and think. So, in no particular order, here they are.

“Wine has been a part of civilized life for some seven thousand years. It is the only beverage that feeds the body, soul and spirit…and at the same time stimulates the mind.” Robert Mondavi (1913-2008), American wine-maker.

“Wine can be considered with good reason as the most healthful and hygienic of all beverages.” Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), French chemist.

“A person with increasing knowledge and sensory education may derive infinite enjoyment from wine.” Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), American novelist.

“Wine is grape-juice. Every drop of liquid filling so many bottles has been drawn out of the ground by the roots of a vine. All these different drinks have at one time been sap in a stick.” Hugh Johnson (b.1939), British wine writer.

“A bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world.” Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), French chemist.

“Wine speaks to all the senses: the eyes behold the colour, tone, and shade; the nose, the bouquet, the fingers and lips caress the cool crystal; the ears delight in the subtle swishing of the liquid; the tongue rejoices in the reward of a rich harvest.” Mary Lou Posch , American wine enthusiast.

“Wine is the sort of alcoholic beverage that does not destroy but enriches life; does not distort but clarifies perspective; does not seduce except in a way worth humanly being seduced.” Bill St. John, American journalist and writer.

“Drinking good wine with good food in good company is one of life’s most civilized pleasures.” Michael Broadbent (1927-2020), British wine writer.

“Wisdom doesn’t automatically come with old age. Nothing does – except wrinkles. It’s true, some wines improve with age. But only if the grapes were good in the first place.” Abigail Van Buren (1918-2013), American journalist.

“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.” Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), American novelist.

“It is the wine that leads me on, the wild wine that sets the wisest man to sing at the top of his lungs, laugh like a fool – it drives the man to dancing… it even tempts him to blurt out stories better never told.” Homer (b. 750 BC), Greek poet.

“In vino veritas – in wine there is truth.” Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD) Roman author and philosopher.

“Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance.” Benjamin Franklin (1705-1790), American statesman and philosopher.

“Wine makes every meal an occasion, every table more elegant, every day more civilized.” Andre Simon (1877-1970), wine merchant and wine writer.

“Millions of deaths would not have happened if it weren’t for the consumption of alcohol. The same can be said about millions of births.” Mokokoma Mokhonoana, South African philosopher and social critic.

“Life is too short to drink bad wine.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), German poet and statesman.

“I need coffee to help me change the things I can…and wine to help me accept the things I can’t.” Tanya Masse, Canadian writer and cartoonist.

“I hover over the expensive Scotch and then the Armagnac, but finally settle on a glass of rich red claret…it smells of old houses and aged wood and dark secrets, but also of hard, hot sunshine through ancient shutters and long, wicked afternoons in a four-poster bed. It’s not a wine; it’s a life, right there in the glass.” Nick Harkaway (b.1972), British novelist.

“Wine has since the earliest times played a special role in human life, both as an emblem of civilization and as an enhancement of our experience of the world. There is, quite simply, nothing to replace it.” Ian Tattersall (b.1945), British paleoanthropologist and writer.

“Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath and a glass of wine.” Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), Italian Dominican friar and philosopher.

“In victory, you deserve Champagne. In defeat you need it.” Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821), French military and political leader.

“I cook with wine; sometimes I even add it to the food.” W.C. Fields (1880-1946), American comedian and writer.

“In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there are bacteria.” Benjamin Franklin (1705-1790), American statesman and philosopher.

“Be careful to trust a person who does not like wine.” Karl Marx (1818-1883), German philosopher.