You’ll notice that there’s an entire section of this site devoted to what I like to call “Wine Wit.” While most of what I write here is devoted to making you (and me) more informed when it comes to wine, wine wit has a much longer history than Cluster Crush, with contributions from some of the world’s greatest minds.
As long as it has existed, wine has been said to loosen the tongue, and thank goodness it did in the case of these luminaries, who have weighed in on everything from the salubrious effects of an occasional tipple to the boon of alcoholic consumption for societal harmony. As they say, or rather, as Roman historian Pliny the Elder said, “in vino veritas”…in wine there is truth.
So without further ado (but not before you grab yourself a glass of wine to sip along with as you read through), here are some of my favorite wine quotes. Feel free to pour them as liberally as you like into your own conversation!
Founding father, inventor, and all-round good-humored intellectual Benjamin Franklin was no stranger to wine, and even believed in the benefits of drinking daily: “Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance.”
His contemporary, Thomas Jefferson, even went so far as to postulate wine’s necessity for national stability: “No nation is drunken where wine is cheap; and none sober where the dearness of wine substitutes ardent spirits as the common beverage.” In other words, cheap wine for all!
He might have led a tempestuous life, but Romantic poet (and erstwhile revolutionary) Lord Byron knew where to find his bliss: “Wine cheers the sad, revives the old, inspires the young, makes weariness forget his toil.”
America’s expansive essayist, Ralph Waldo Emerson, apparently reached for the glass when he put down the pen, “Give me wine to wash me clean of the weather-stains of care.” Apparently it made him more articulate, because he also said, “A man will be eloquent if you give him good wine.” But only good wine.
Shakespeare himself deemed wine a truth serum: “The wine-cup is the little silver well/Where truth, if truth there be, doth dwell,” and ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes found it a font of facetiousness: “Quickly, bring me a beaker of wine so that I may wet my mind and say something clever.”
But Samuel Johnson picks out that annoying dude we all avoid at the party with this bon mot: “Wine makes a man more pleased with himself; I do not say it makes him more pleasing to others….This is one of the disadvantages of wine: it makes a man mistake words for thoughts.” Burn!
We’ve all heard about the health benefits of wine, but its salutary qualities were being lauded well before now by the likes of Louis Pasteur: “Wine is the most healthful and most hygienic of beverages.” Even the discoverer of penicillin himself, Alexander Fleming, had something to say on the topic: “Penicillin cures, but wine makes people happy.” Which would you prefer?
Ironically, however, it was a scientist, Galileo Galilei, who perhaps waxed most poetic on the topic, saying: “Wine is sunlight, held together by water.” Napa habitué Robert Louis Stevenson saw it another way: “Wine is bottled poetry.”
Whether you’re drinking sunlight or poetry, though, that’s bound to be a darn good dram.
Those are just a few of the choice quotations I frequently chuckle over, but trust me, there are plenty more relating to romance, aging (of course) and general chicanery, so stay tuned for subsequent citations!