Wine Talk

Snooth User: ChipDWood

Great Wine Quotes...

Original post by ChipDWood, Apr 10, 2010.

A thread on another category inspired me to look this one up and write it out, because it's from Ben Franklin.  Who was pretty smart, and woulda been a Snoother had he lived to these days of the internet.  Well before Mr. T. Jefferson went to Paris, Franklin already had a great collection of wine, over a thousand bottles (the biggest percentage of it being that of the White Mousseux ("bubbly") variety, then Bordeaux.

This quote is a response to his French friend Abbe Morellet's accusation that Franklin (and Jefferson alike) had instigated the American Revolution mainly to replace English tea with French wine.  I mean, why not, ya know?  Somethin' to do.  Anyway, here's Franklin's response, which is brilliant:

"You have frequently cheered me, my very dear friend, with your excellent drinking songs.  In return I am going to edify you with a few Christian, moral and philosophical reflections on the same subject.

"'In vino veritas', says the Sage.  The truth is in wine.  Before Noah, therefore, men having only water to drink, became abominably wicked, and were justly exterminated by the water it pleased them to drink.  It is customary to speak of the conversion of water into wine at the Marriage of Cana as a miracle, but by the goodness of God this conversion takes place every day before our eyes.  Water falls from the skies onto our vineyards.  There it penetrates the grapes of the vine and is changed into wine, a continual proof that God loves us and that he likes to see us happy.  The particular miracles at Cana was done merely to perform this operation in a sudden case of need.

"My good brother, be as kindly and well disposed as He, and do not spoil the good work He has done, wine for our rejoicing.  When you see your neighbor at table pour wine into his glass, do not hasten to pour water after it.  Why should you wish to drown the truth?"

Benjamin Franklin, circa 1780 (or so; link to source)

I LOVE the part about the miracle at Cana being performed simply as a "sudden case of need".  Awesome.


Reply by dmcker, Apr 17, 2010.

Oops, think I need to go have my first cup of coffee this morning. The duplication was for Benjy Franklin, not TJ...

Reply by dmcker, May 2, 2010.

"I had been hungry all the years;

My noon had come to dine;

I, trembling, drew the table near,

And touched the curious wine."

Reply by zufrieden, May 2, 2010.

I've been waiting in vain for some of that quintessentially metaphorical commentary on wine from the Edward Fitzgerald translation of the Rubáiyát by Omar Khayyám. To fill that void, let's settle on verse 75:

And when thyself with shining foot shall pass

Among the guests star-scatter'd on The Grass,

And in thy joyous errand reach the spot

Where I made one - turn down an empty glass!

 (for those who have not read this poem in its entirety, wine is a metaphor for life and how it should be lived inter alia)

Reply by amour, May 4, 2010.

Wine comes in at the mouth

Love comes in at the eye

That's all we shall know for truth

Before we grow old and die.


William Butler Yeats   1865 - 1939


Reply by dmcker, May 5, 2010.

Amour, look on the first page of this thread (and also on my profile). Already had the Yeats verse. It is a good one, isn't it? Also quite useful for quasiformal toasts... ;-)


Zuf, was it the Burton translation with the 'loaf of bread, jug of wine and though, under the bough' lines? No time to look it up now, I'm afraid.


Since nobody bothered guessing I'll give it away. The verse I provide three boxes up is from Emily Dickinson.

Reply by dmcker, Jun 22, 2010.

Though not specifically about wine, this quote from Robert Louis Stevenson seems particularly apropos:

"To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive"

Reply by dmcker, Aug 4, 2010.

Something from Keats on Claret. Wonder how he and his tastes would've evolved with more age, if he hadn't died of TB at age 28....


I never drink now above three glasses of wine—and never any spirits and water. Though by the bye, the other day Woodhouse took me to his coffee house—and ordered a Bottle of Claret—now I like Claret, whenever I can have Claret I must drink it,—’t is the only palate affair that I am at all sensual in. Would it not be a good speck [speculation] to send you some vine roots—could it be done? I’ll enquire—If you could make some wine like Claret to drink on summer evenings in an arbour! For really ’t is so fine—it fills one’s mouth with a gushing freshness—then goes down cool and feverless—then you do not feel it quarrelling with your liver—no, it is rather a Peacemaker, and lies as quiet as it did in the grape; then it is as fragrant as the Queen Bee, and the more ethereal Part of it mounts into the brain, not assaulting the cerebral apartments like a bully in a bad-house looking for his trull and hurrying from door to door bouncing against the wainstcoat [wainscot], but rather walks like Aladdin about his own enchanted palace so gently that you do not feel his step. Other wines of a heavy and spirituous nature transform a Man to a Silenus: this makes him a Hermes—and gives a Woman the soul and immortality of Ariadne, for whom Bacchus always kept a good cellar of claret—and even of that he could never persuade her to take above two cups. I said this same claret is the only palate-passion I have—I forgot game—I must plead guilty to the breast of a Partridge, the back of a hare, the backbone of a grouse, the wing and side of a Pheasant and a Woodcock passim. Talking of game (I wish I could make it), the Lady whom I met at Hastings and of whom I said something in my last I think has lately made me many presents of game, and enabled me to make as many. She made me take home a Pheasant the other day, which I gave to Mrs. Dilke; on which to-morrow Rice, Reynolds and the Wentworthians will dine next door.

—John Keats, from Letter to George and Georgiana Keats, February 18, 1819
Reply by dmcker, Aug 4, 2010.

From Jim Harrison (Legends of the Fall, etc.):


I want to die in the saddle. An enemy of civilization

I want to walk around in the woods, fish and drink.


Reply by dmcker, Aug 4, 2010.

Also from Harrison:

"Wine produces memory. If I drink a Brouilly in Montana, the wine inevitably reproduces my sitting at Le Select on Montparnasse in Paris dozens of times drinking the same wine trying to recover from a day of interviews on a Paris book tour. When I drink a bottle of Domaine Tempier Bandol in our casita near the Mexican border, I invariably revisit my many meals cooked by Lulu Peyraud in Bandol in southern France. My memory helps me eat them again. If I drink a Bouzeron on a warm summer evening, I’m able to revisit some of the best trout fishing of my life on a lovely river when we would finish our floating on the last mile of river or so by opening a bottle of Bouzeron. We are delightfully trapped by our memories. I can’t drink a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vieux Télégraphe without revisiting a hotel bistro in Luzerne, Switzerland, where I ate a large bowl of a peppery Basque baby goat stew. A sip and a bite. A bite and sip. Goose bumps come with the divine conjunction of food and wine."


Made me think of going upriver trout fishing (with some artist and wine purveyor friends in Tokyo back in the '80s before I got too busy with business) for Iwana and Yamame (extendible poles, no reels, live bait selected from under river rocks, climbing waterfalls to get to the best spots along the river) north of Tokyo in Honshu, Japan. We'd take along bottles of Macconais chardonnay, and Ducru-Beaucaillou claret, to finish the meal of fresh-caught trout and shiitake mushrooms harvested from the forest, grilled on sticks over a fire, the Burgundy chilled in the river....

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Aug 4, 2010.

My Doormat at the front door says

"Life is too short to dring Crap Wine"

Reply by dmcker, Aug 4, 2010.

Is that a combination of 'drink'ing and 'bring'ing?  ;-)

Reply by ChipDWood, Aug 4, 2010.

K, here's one from my man Thomas Jefferson that I don't think has made it into the thread yet:

"Wine is the only known antidote for the bane known as whiskey."

My translation: Wine is the cure for alcoholism.  So, have at it.

Reply by dmcker, Aug 6, 2010.

More from Keats. Sounds like he was a bit of a rowdy one in his early years (though they all were early since he died so young). Think I was hanging out with several of his descendants early this past decade...


Women, Wine and Snuff

John Keats

Give me women, wine and snuff

Until I cry out “hold, enough!”

You may do so sans objection

Till the day of resurrection;

For bless my beard they aye shall be

My beloved Trinity.

Reply by dmcker, Aug 6, 2010.

And more, again, from Harrison:

 I was drawn to what made my heart sing in what my father called “this vale of woe.” This meant wine and poetry.

Wine crawls in the window of your life and never leaves. A young poet is at a loss because his calling has set him outside of so many comforting boundaries the culture offers and wine easily offers itself as a liquid fuel, making him think he might belong in this hostile country. Even Vergil’s father chided him about becoming a poet, saying, “Homer died broke.”

Reply by dmcker, Aug 6, 2010.

Another heavy-partying poet, this time Ikkyu from 15th century Japan. He was a zen master, started one of the most famous schools of tea ceremony, was an advisor to the military leaders at the time (and ended up getting his head chopped off for his efforts). Sounds like he also liked his Sake and members of the opposite sex:

Dead winter but our poetry glows:

Drunk after downing cup after cup.

Years since I enjoyed such sweet love play.

The moon disappears, dawn breaks, yet we hardly notice.

Reply by dmcker, Aug 6, 2010.

Another quote from Harrison on wine (and I'll stop here for now).

The gods slipped us this gift in prehistory, noting our hardships, our cold and hunger and our battles with wild beasts. “O no, another glacier is headed our way, let’s drink some wine,” one imagines them saying. Way back then in southern France in the locale of many great present vineyards there were one-ton bears running around at top speed on their hind legs, an unattractive fact.

Reply by ChipDWood, Aug 7, 2010.

"I've heard it claimed that poets, writers, "imaginaries" if you like, enjoy drinking wine, whiskey, and injesting various other chemicals because they help to "fuel the imagination".

"I believe such individuals enjoy such things because they have the opposite effect, and allow the brilliant imagination a rare glimpse into normalcy."

~ Me.  Drunk one night, trying to pick up a pretty young student writing a paper on the subject for her disertation.

THAT, is imaginative and wine-fueled both :).



Reply by ChipDWood, Aug 7, 2010.

"One can often tell the quality of a wine by the number of footprints left by its maker in the vineyard."

Don't know who to attriubute it to- but I love that one.

Reply by ChipDWood, Aug 7, 2010.

"Buy the rumor, sell the news- as well as any high-end Bordeaux you have on hand at this very moment.  To China."

~ Me again.


Reply by ChipDWood, Aug 7, 2010.


This thread, and I blame it entirely, drove me to looking up some of Oscar Wilde's one-liners.

Here's a good one that applies today more than ever before in our history:

"Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught."

Oscar Wilde

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