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It doth quicken a man's wits,
It doth comfort the heart.
---Andrew Boorde, 1562, "Dyetary of Helth"
(Ed. Note: The American Medical Association caught up to this wisdom approximately 435 years later.)
be true that I do think,
There are five reasons we should drink:
Good wine a friend or being dry
Or lest we should be by and by
Or any other reason why.
--Henry Aldrich (16471710), dean of Christ Church, Oxford. Reasons For Drinking.
makes every meal an occasion, every table more elegant, every day more civilized.
---Andre Simon, "Commonsense of Wine"
WINE TO ME IS PASSION. IT'S FAMILY AND FRIENDS. IT'S WARMTH OF HEART AND GENEROSITY OF SPIRIT. WINE IS ART. IT'S CULTURE. IT'S THE ESSENCE OF CIVILIZATION AND THE ART OF LIVING.
..Hermippus...[Old Greek poet] puts into the mouth of Dionysus a description of just such a wine as that Chateau Margaux 1871. 'But there is a wine which they call "the mellow," and from the mouth of its jar as it is opened, there comes a fragrance of violets, a fragrance of roses, a fragrance of hyacinth. A divine perfume pervades the high-roofed house, ambrosia and nectar in one." As the last drops of the Margaux were being sipped, a guest savouring preciously every fragrance, said with unaffected humility: "When I drink wines such as these, I ask myself what merit I have acquired that I should be allowed to experience such beauty."
--H. Warner Allen, "The Romance of Wine"
in California is still in the experimental stage; and when you
taste a vintage, grave economical questions are involved. The
beginning of vine-planting is like the beginning of mining for
the precious metals: the wine-grower also
"prospects." One corner of land after another is
tried with one kind of grape after another. This is a failure;
that is better; third is best. So, bit by bit, they grope about
for their Clos Vougeot and Lafite. 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."
In Europe we
thought of wine as something as healthy and normal as food and
also a great giver of happiness and well being and delight.
Drinking wine was not a snobbism nor a sign of sophistication
nor a cult; it was as natural as eating and to me as necessary.
I often wonder whether those who so vehemently proscribe certain wine and food combinations do so from unhappy experience or from an untested acceptance of "rules..." [J]ust a few years ago .... we raised our glasses [unknowingly filled with 1923 Rayne-Vigneau Sauternes and] there was a delighted murmur from each of us at the quite unexpected taste sensation produced by this dry-sweet old wine---rich in flavors rather than sugars---in combination with the delicate richness of the fish. What rule would have told me to drink fine old Sauternes with smoked salmon?"
"Wine and Food I"
"Appreciating old wine is like making love to a very old lady. It is possible. It can even be enjoyable. But it requires a bit of imagination."--Andre Tchelistcheff
Our hypothetical rich client might even have ordered a
Pommard, because it was listed at a higher price.....He would have never learned [about
other wines]. A man who is rich in his adolescence is almost doomed to be a
dilettante at table. This is not because all millionaires are stupid but because they are
not impelled to experiment.
ordinarily ...an actual want of judgment...There is frequently
a parsimonious calculation on the one hand, or an ostentatious
profusion and mixture on the other. The art in using wine
is to produce the greatest possible quantity of present
gladness without any future depression....Too many sorts of
wines confuse the palate and derange digestion....Drinking too
quick is much more to be avoided than drinking too
slow...Drinking too quick confuses both the stomach and the
brain; drinking too slow disappoints them."
Wine is the "healthiest and most
health-giving of drinks."
NB: Another old doctor who predated American Medical Association advice by quite a bit....
loved the [story] about how a great wine connoisseur invited
the composer [Brahms] to dinner. 'This is the Brahms of my
cellar,' he said to his guests, producing a dust-covered bottle
and pouring some onto the master's glass. Brahms looked first
at the color of the wine, then sniffed its bouquet, finally
took a sip, and put the glass down without saying a word.
'Hmmm,' Brahms muttered. 'Better bring your Beethoven!' "
...drank a Chateauneuf du Pape which tasted like nice chewed grass. This
was Rosemary's defnition...Personally, I found as little suggestion of
chewed grass, eve of nice chewed grass, as I had found of rose-petals in
Tavel, or of gun-flint in Saint Peray. By this time I was growing
about my indiscriminating olfactory nerves, and content to accept the
verdicts of my friends.
advances are welcomed by all in our Industry - assuming they
have a positive impact on wine quality. Let's not forget,
however, that technology invariably enables us to replicate
what we would do carefully by hand on a much larger scale
"Sweetness belongs in the Mosel wine like the bubbles belong in the Champagne."
---Nik Weiss, Weingut St-Urbanshof,
"Last week I had
to offer my publisher a bottle that was far too good for
him, simply because there was nothing between the
insulting and the superlative."
"A hard drinker,
being at the table, was offered grapes for dessert.
"Thank you," said he, pushing the dish away from
him, "but I am not in the habit of taking my wine in
THE PERILS OF BLIND
professionals don't mind making fools of themselves in the company of others
in the business [when doing blind tastings].
At least...their friends in the trade know how really difficult it is to
identify wines, and they all have comforting knowledge of their common
BLIND TASTINGS ARE TO WINE WHAT STRIP POKER IS TO LOVE.--Kermit Lynch
Sauvignon blanc] bangs you in the mouth--like an old peasant with his wooden
shoe......The Sauvignon is the whipper-snapper. It's not solid enough. It's violent, it's
sharp, it bites, it cries, it's like a ferocious dog you keep on a leash.
Fermented beverages have been preferred over water
throughout the ages: they are safer, provide psychotropic effects, and are more
nutritious. Some have even said alcohol was the primary agent for the development of
Western civilization, since more healthy individuals (even if inebriated much of the time)
lived longer and had greater reproductive success.
impressions and opinions but do NOT invest in maintaining them in
order to have been "right;" listen to the wines, and
follow their stories."
cheapness of wine seems to be a cause, not of drunkenness, but
of sobriety. ...People are seldom guilty of excess in
what is their daily fare...On the contrary, in the countries
which, either from excessive heat or cold, produce no grapes,
and where wine consequently is dear and a rarity, drunkenness
is a common vice."
"[The senior partner] sipped [the French wine grower's Burgundy], rolled it round his tongued and swallowed it while the French principal sat complacently waiting for the expected praise. "Urine," he said. ...whereupon the Frenchman leapt to his feet, threw down his napkin and stormed out of the room. "Where has he gone," asked the senior partner? "Well, Sir, ... you did describe his Burgundy as er...urine." "Fussy old gentleman isn't he? Pass the potatoes," said the senior partner.
--Douglas Sutherland in "Raise your glasses," a true story
far as drinking is concerned, you have my hearty approval; for
wine does of a truth moisten the soul and lull our griefs to
sleep....[and with small cups] we shall ...be brought by its
gentle persuasion to a more sportive mood."
The late Herman Makiewicz, a writer and wit, tippled a little too much at [a dinner party], with the result that he became ill in the midst of the repast and committed the unpardonable social error of losing his food at the ..table...A deadly hush descended...Mankiewicz broke the silence himself. ..."It's all right, Arthur, the white wine came up with the fish."
--Ezra Goodman, The Fifty Year Decline and Fall of Hollywood
“I feel a genuine sadness about vertical tastings that has always left me feeling as if I needed a soul-cleansing afterwards,” Dan Berger, as quoted in The Billionaire's Vinegar
"I drank a bottle of
wine for company. It was Chateau Margaux. It was pleasant
to be drinking slowly and to be tasting the wine and to be
drinking alone. A bottle of wine was good
"A gourmet ordered with dinner in a restaurant a bottle of magnificent old vintage Burgundy. The waiter who brought it handled the bottle carelessly. "Look here," exclaimed the gourmet, "you haven't shaken up the bottle, have you?"
"No sir, " the waiter replied, "but I will." And he suited the action to the word.
---Julian Street, "Table Topics"
I was in New York. I was lonely and miserable (this was in
1949). .. I found myself passing the 21 Club ....and bought a modest half
bottle...I spent my time looking at the really wonderful wine list. ]T]here
was a 1869 Mouton. Later, I was taken back to the bar and introduced to Mr.
Kreindler, who was part-owner of the 21 Club. He gave me an excellent
brandy...and presented me with a bottle of the Mouton '69, which I had never
hoped to drink, and could not possibly hope to buy. ...It turned out to be
marvellous...Where else in the world could such a magnificent gesture be
"Every man in this country who is rich enough to pay income-tax, has, at one time or other of his life, effected a very remarkable transaction in wine. Sometimes he has made such a bargain as he never expects to make again. Sometimes he is the only man in England, not a peer of the realm, who has got a single drop of a certain famous vintage which has perished from the face of the earth. Sometimes he has purchased, with a friend, a few last left dozens from the cellar of a deceased potentate... Sometimes he has been at an out of the way country inn...has asked if there is no other wine in the house; has been informed that there is some "sourish foreign stuff that nobody ever drinks;" has called for a bottle of it; has found it Burugndy, such as all France cannot now produce...and has bought the whole stock for an "old song." ....In all these wine conversations, whatever variety there may be in the various experiences related, one of two great first principles is invariably assumed by each speaker in succession. Either he knows more about it than anyone else--or he has got better wine of his own even than the excellent wine he is now drinking."
can get together sometimes without talking of women, without
talking of horses, without talking of politics; but they cannot
assemble to eat a meal together without talking of wine; and
they cannot talk of wine without assuming to each one of
themselves an absolute infallibility in connexion with that
single subject, which they would shrink from asserting in
relation to any other topic under the sun.
on the whole, do not keep nearly so long as Clarets; they have
more to give, more bouquet and greater vinosity, at first, but
they exhaust themselves and fade away sooner than the less
aromatic, more reserved Clarets. It is somewhat like some
of the carnations, which possess a far more pungent and
assertive perfume, when first picked, than any rose; yet the
more discreet, the gentler and sweeter perfume of the rose will
abide with the bloom as long as the bloom will last.
--Andre L. Simon
the great drinkers are very dull, inactive fellows, no women's
men at all; they eject nothing strong, vigorous, and fit for
generation, but are weak and unperforming, by reason of the
bad digestion and coldness of their seed.....[T]hose that are
drunk are very much like old men."
"You have only so many bottles in your life, never drink a bad one."
The wines were chiefly port, sherry and hock; claret, and even Burgundy, being then designated 'poor thin washy stuff.' A perpetual thirst seemed to come over people, both men and women, as soon as they had tasted their soup...How all this sort of eating and drinking ended was obvious, from the prevalence of gout, and the necessity of everyone making the pill-box their constant bedroom companion. "
--Rees H. Gronow, "Reminiscences"
--Evelyn Waugh, "First Faltering Steps: Drinking"
"The discovery of a wine is of
greater moment than the discovery of a constellation. The
universe is too full of stars."
"..the good talk that
is inseparable from a wine dinner is even more important than
the wines that are being served. Never bring up your better
bottles if you are entertaining a man who cannot talk.
Keep your treasures for a night when those few who are nearest
to your heart can gather round your table, free from care, with
latchkeys in their pockets and no last train to catch."
Burgundy at its best overtops claret at its best...You will only drink four or five bottles of truly first-class Burgundy in your whole life (and you will be lucky if you find so many....Only 3 have rung the bell with me....) But you can drink claret of the highest class several times in a year-- claret that should be drunk kneeling with every sip consecrated as a libation to Heaven. ....[My third of the three great Burgundies I have had] was nearly twenty years ago. ....I took one sip; I closed my eyes, and every beautiful thing that I had ever known crowded into my memory....The song of armies sweeping into battle,...the glint of sunshine after rain on the leaves of the forest...the voices of children singing hymns, all these and a hundred other things seemed to be blended into one magnificence.
--Maurice Healy, "Stay Me with Flagons"
Red with meat, white with fish, except lox or herring. Rosé with any endangered species or an ice cream cone. Wine should be stored in a cool, dry place. The glove compartment of a Jaguar or an abandoned washing machine are my personal favorites. Good French wine should carry the phrase: "Mise en bouteilles au chateau." This assures you that only the owner of the vineyard has had a chance to tamper with the wine.
--Richard Smith, "A Gentleman's Guide" to understanding fine wines
would be a narrow and fanatical wine lover who would exclude
white wines from his appreciation, though in certain respects
they cannot claim equality with the great red wines. They
have, however, their own appointed times and moods....So, in a
chaster category of human pleasures, the great Rhine wines
strike one speechless with amazement at the first glass, but
succeeding glasses, which with red wines grow progressively
more enthralling, never quite attain the pinnacle of artistic
perfection with which the first taste dumbfounds the wine
--H. Warner Allen,
The Romance Of Wine
The grapes often are also very rotten, and always full of spiders. Besides that, I have been told by those of the country, that they often put salt, dung and other filthiness, in their wine to help, as they think, its purging. But, without these additions, the very sight of their treading and making their wine...walking without any scruple out of the dirt and into grapes they were treading.....were enough to set one's stomach ever after against this sort of liquor.
--John Locke, 1679,
Observations upon the Growth and Culture of Vines and Olives
I am never so successful as when I am a little merry: let me
throw on a bottle of champagne, and I never lose--at least I never feel
my losses, which is exactly the same thing.... And then, what man can
pretend to be a believer in love, who is an abjurer of wine?
Too much sentimentality has been wasted upon small producers....Dirt and disease are integral parts of peasant life....Third-rate vines which produce nasty fruit but a lot of it, moldewed grapes which the owner is too poor or obstinate to reject, dirty barns, foul vats, ancient and ill-smelling wine-presses, masses of flies and muck---all these are the tolerated plagues of makers of "little local wines"
--Raymond Postgage, Portuguese Wines
[W]ine has been a part of civilized life for some seven thousand years. It is the only beverage that feeds the body, soul and spirit of man and at the same time stimulates the mind....
Making good wine is a skill. Fine wine is an art.
---Robert Mondavi, Harvests of Joy
You neednt tell me that a man who doesnt love oysters
and asparagus and good wines has got a soul, or a stomach either. Hes simply got the
instinct for being unhappy highly developed.
This wine is too good for
toast-drinking, my dear. You dont want to mix emotions up with a wine like that. You
lose the taste.
Other countries drink
to get drunk, and this is accepted by everyone; in France, drunkenness is a consequence,
never an intention. A drink is felt as the spinning out of a pleasure, not as the
necessary cause of an effect which is sought: wine is not only a philtre, it is also the
leisurely act of drinking.
Edward Carson, QC:
[T]he first sip of the Dominus? A moment so exquisite that it demands brevity.....In the seconds it took the sip to cross my lips, loll on my tongue, and slide down my throat, a dozen different tones and tastes and fragrances fused into a single blood-dark sensation so deep and soul-felt that it wasn't like drinking. It was like a summer dive into a glacial lake then breaking back to the surface, the simple sensation of being alive blotting out all thought.
--Peter Richmond, GQ, November, 1998, on a sip of 1994 Dominus after a month without wine
WHAT IS BETTER THAN TO SIT AT THE END OF THE DAY AND DRINK WINE WITH FRIENDS, OR SUBSTITUTES FOR FRIENDS?
There is no money, among that which I have spent since I began to earn my living, of the expenditure of which I am less ashamed, or which gave me better value in return, than the price of the liquids chronicled in this booklet. When they were good, they pleased my senses, cheered my spirits, improved my moral and intellectual powers.
--GEORGE SAINTSBURY, "NOTES ON A CELLAR BOOK"
One evening, wine sang out with all its soul:
"I send you, Man, dear disinherited,
From my glass prison with its scarlet seals,
A song of sunshine and of brotherhood!"
JAMAIS EN VAIN,
TOUJOURS EN VIN
--Saying posted in the hall at Clos Vougeot, Burgundy
(Translation: "Never in vain, always in wine," but the rhyme is lost in English)
[I]f we sip the wine, we find dreams coming upon us
Out of the imminent night
--D.H. Lawrence, "Grapes"
Drinking with him, except so far as it cooled a feverish thirst, was not a sensual but an intellectual pleasure; it lighted up his fading fancy, enriched his humor, and impelled the struggling thought or beautiful image into day.---T.N. Talfourd, on Charles Lamb
Drink a glass of wine after your soup and you steal a ruble from
Wine has been created to make people happy.
Wine drunk at the proper time and in moderation is rejoicing heart and gladness of soul.
Wine drunk to excess leads to bitterness of spirit, to quarrels and stumbling.
Drunkenness increases the anger of a fool to his own heart, reducing his strength and adding wounds.
WHAT THOUGH YOUTH GAVE LOVE AND ROSES
AGE STILL LEAVES US FRIENDS AND WINE
If you wish to grow thinner, diminish your dinner,
And take to light claret instead of pale ale.
--Henry Leigh, Carols of Cocayne, "On Corpulence"
For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red.
|Macduff: What three things does drink especially
sir, nose-painting, sleep and urine. Lechery, sir, it provokes, and unprovokes; it
provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance.
If God forbade drinking, would He have made wine so good?
--Cardinal Richelieu (Mirame)
Wine has been to me a firm friend and a wise counsellor. ...Wine has lit up for me the pages of literature, and revealed in life romance lurking in the commonplace. Wine has made me bold, but not foolish; has induced me to say silly things, but not do them....[I]f such small indiscretions standing in the debit column of wine's account were added up, they would amount to nothing in comparison with the vast accumulation on the credit side.
--DUFF COOPER, "Old Men Forget"
The Wines of Bordeaux give tone to the stomach, while leaving the mouth fresh and the head clear. More than one invalid abandoned by the doctors has been seen to drink the good old wine of Bordeaux and return to health.
--Comments by members of the Jury judging Bordeaux wines submitted under the new 1855 classification at the 1855 World's Fair in Paris, as noted in 1855: A History of the Bordeaux Classification
[The merchants of Cette, France] are great chemists...and have brought the noble art of adulteration to a perfection....They will doctor you up bad Bordeaux with violet powders and rough cider--colour it ...and outswear creation that it is precious Chateau Margaux--vintage of '25. ..Do you wish to make your Claret old? A Cette manufacturer will place it in his oven.... Cette...is the very capital and emporium of the tricks and rascalities of the wine trade...To the grateful Yankees it sends out thousands of tons of Ay and Moet, besides no end of Johannisberg, Hermitage...
--Angus Reach, "Claret & Olives"
Do I recall the night we met?...
You wore a bandeau on your hair and with the coq au vin
Produced a magnum old and rare of Chambertin.
Chateau Yquem, a last surprise, was climax, crown and seal.
I might forget your lovely eyes, but not that meal.
--Eric Chillman, Gourmet's Love Song
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