Wine Talk

Snooth User: ChipDWood

Great Wine Quotes...

Posted 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.

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Reply by rhill2990, Apr 10, 2010.

Kudo's ChipD,  my hat is off to you.  I was not aware of the context of the quotation.  Thank You.

Reply by zufrieden, Apr 10, 2010.

Not only was Tom Jefferson a mammoth intellect and great patriot, he was a world citizen when such a term did not exist.  He also loved the good life because, well, he loved life.  And since he toured a number of key wine regions in France when resident there, we know what aspects of life he loved most. He felt sure that good wine could be made at home and ultimately he was right...

Perhaps the greatest Virginian ever.  

I would add something about Prime Minister John A. MacDonald, but as a Scot he was more partial to pedestrian Sherry.  So no story there.


Reply by ChipDWood, Apr 10, 2010.

btw, one of the many fantastic moments in this quote?

"...and were justly exterminated by the water it pleased them to drink."

I mean- now that's funny.

Reply by ChipDWood, Apr 10, 2010.

Yea, Zufrieden: AGREED on all points.   In addition, I would say he was the "original" Snoother, as I posted about some time back.  His entire estate and gardens were set up to see which fruits, flowers, vines, and other things of the earth grew best in Virginia soils.  Though he never brought a vitis vinifera grape to wine, he did make several batches of the indigenous vaietals and had those, after supper.

Everything he did with his estate was to benefit the growers around him.  He even bought huge amounts of tobacco, grown in the Commonwealth, and used IT as a form of currency when procurring wines from overseas.

The more I read about him, the more complex he becomes, and the more responsible I feel that he is for the shape of our nation today... not to mention the originator and mainspring of wine in the United States, as he saw it as "the only known cure for the bane that is whiskey"... another great quote, might I add.

A toast to the original Snoother, Thomas Jefferson.

Reply by ChipDWood, Apr 10, 2010.

Rhil, as you can tell: my pleasure my friend, and thanks as well for the reminder.  I had forgotten just how awesome his response was to such an... outlandish accusation, after all.

You shold join the Virginia Group.

I mean... everyone else is doing it.

... thus endeth the promotion of said regional group, curated by your's truly and filled with great & inquisitive folks.

Like you.

Reply by amour, Apr 15, 2010.


Thank you very much!



Reply by amour, Apr 16, 2010.

"I drink Champagne when I am happy, and when I am sad.

Sometimes I drink it when I am alone.

When I have company, I consider it obligatory.

I trifle with it if I am not hungry, and drink it when I am.

Otherwise, I never touch it,  unless thirsty! "

...Madame Lily Bollinger.

Reply by Brad Borneaux, Apr 16, 2010.

"In water, one sees one's own face.  In wine, one beholds the heart of another" - French Proverb

Reply by dmcker, Apr 16, 2010.

Good one, bRIZZAd. The quote I chose for my Snooth profile:

"Wine comes in at the mouth and love comes in at the eye;

that's all we shall know for truth before we grow old and die.

I lift the glass to my mouth, I look at you, and sigh."

Reply by outthere, Apr 16, 2010.

Donelan Family Wines has one I like:

"Wine Is A Journey Not A Destination."

Reply by zufrieden, Apr 16, 2010.

Love the pics, Chip - especially the remake of the Tom Jefferson portrait.  I've been a bit busy of late so missed some of this thread over the past week.

Reply by dmcker, Apr 17, 2010.

And Amour, that was a good quote from Madame Lily, too...

Reply by Cathy Shore, Apr 17, 2010.

I like the Winston Churchill one when he is at dinner and the lady next to him says 'Sir, you are drunk and he replies yes, Madam I am,  and you are ugly, but tomorrow,  I shall be sober'.

Probably not quite perfect but you get the drift! 

Reply by dirkwdeyoung, Apr 17, 2010.

I am a huge Franklin fan and love his often references to wine in his writings. In fact, I don't know if anyone noticed, but my profile reference is actually an abstract from his words :)

Reply by Manoavino, Apr 17, 2010.

I liked Hemingway's take:

"Wine is the most civilized thing in the world."

"Wine … offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than possibly any other purely sensory thing which may be purchased."

"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." --- Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast.


Reply by dirkwdeyoung, Apr 17, 2010.

Here is the whole Franklin quote:

To confirm still more your piety and gratitude to Divine Providence, reflect upon the situation which it has given to the elbow. Man, who was destined to drink wine, must be able to raise the glass to his mouth. If the elbow had been placed nearer the hand, the part in advance would have been too short to bring the glass up to the mouth; and if it had been placed nearer the shoulder, that part would have been so long that it would have carried the wine far beyond the mouth. But by the actual situation, we are enabled to drink at our ease, the glass going exactly to the mouth. Let us, then, with glass in hand, adore this benevolent wisdom;—let us adore and drink!

Reply by amour, Apr 17, 2010.

If all 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 bye and bye

Or any other reason why.

Henry Aldrich (1647-1710)  from the Latin Causae Bibendi by John Sirmond (1589-1649)

Reply by rhill2990, Apr 17, 2010.

I really have enjoyed reading the responses on this thread.  Thanks to all for contributing.

Reply by dmcker, Apr 17, 2010.

OK, bombs away. W.B. Yeats is feeling lonely up in my earlier post. So just a few more... ;-)

On syrah:

  • "What is man, when you come to think upon him, but a minutely set, ingenious machine for turning with infininite artfulness, the red wine of Shiraz into urine?"
    Isak Dineson, SEVEN GOTHIC TALES

On champagne:

  • "My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." -John Maynard Keynes
  • "Gentlemen, in the little moment that remains
    to us between the crisis and the catastrophe,
    we may as well drink a glass of Champagne." - Paul Claudel
  • "In victory, you deserve champagne, in defeat, you need it." - Napoleon
  • "Come quickly! I am tasting stars!" - Dom Perignon (1638-1714) at his first sip of champagne
  • "It is said that dining one night at Potsdam with Wilhelm II, Bismarck was served German 'Champagne' or Sekt. He tasted it ... and put down his glass. The kaiser looked at him inquiringly. 'Your Majesty,' said Bismarck, 'I cannot drink German champagne.' Wilhelm explained that he had decided to serve Sekt rather than the Chancellor's beloved Heidsieck, not only for reasons of economy, but as a patriotic gesture. 'Your Majesty,' said Bismarck simply, 'I am extremely sorry. My patriotism stops short of my stomach." - from Patrick Forbes' book "Champagne"

A few nuggest from TJ (first three) and Benjy:

  • "I have lived temperately . . . I double the doctor's recommendation of a glass and a half of wine a day and even treble it with a friend."
  • "By making this wine vine known to the public, I have rendered my country as great a service as if I had enabled it to pay back the national debt."
  • "I think it is a great error to consider a heavy tax on wines as a tax on luxury. On the contrary, it is a tax on the health of our citizens."
  • "We hear of the conversion of water into wine at the marriage in Cana as of a miracle. But this conversion is, through the goodness of God, made every day before our eyes. Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, and which incorporates itself with the grapes, to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy."

And more Americana:

  • "What contemptible scoundrel stole the cork from my lunch" - W. C. Fields
  • "It's a naive domestic Burgundy without any breeding, but I think you'll be amused by its presumption."
    - James Thurber, cartoon caption, 1944
  • A wine critic was sitting at his typewriter & writing a wine review: 'Now this is an amusing little Chardonnay... with a surprisingly perky personality, until it is consumed in large quantities, at which point it seems to display some alarming emotional problems.' - 'Shoe' cartoon
  • "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." - Ernest Hemingway," A Moveable Feast'
  • "I drank at every vine.
    The last was like the first.
    I came upon no wine
    So wonderful as thirst."
    -Edna St. Vincent Millay, 'Feast,' "The Harp-Weaver" (1923)
  • "Wine is a living liquid containing no preservatives. Its life cycle comprises youth, maturity, old age, and death. When not treated with reasonable respect it will sicken and die." - Julia Child
  • "To buy very good wine nowadays requires only money. To serve it to your guests is a sign of fatigue."  - William F. Buckley, 'Harpers Bazaar,' Sept. '79
  • CONNOISSEUR, n. A specialist who knows everything about something and nothing about anything else. An old wine-bibber having been smashed in a railway collision, some wine was poured on his lips to revive him. "Pauillac, 1873," he murmured and died. - Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914), "The Devil's Dictionary", 1911
  • GRAPE, n. Hail noble fruit! -- by Homer sung, Anacreon and Khayyam; Thy praise is ever on the tongue Of better men than I am. The lyre in my hand has never swept, The song I cannot offer: My humbler service pray accept -- I'll help to kill the scoffer. The water-drinkers and the cranks Who load their skins with liquor -- I'll gladly bear their belly-tanks And tap them with my sticker. Fill up, fill up, for wisdom cools When e'er we let the wine rest. Here's death to Prohibition's fools, And every kind of vine-pest! - Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914), "The Devil's Dictionary", 1911:
  • WINE, n. Fermented grape-juice known to the Women's Christian Union as "liquor," sometimes as "rum." Wine, madam, is God's next best gift to man. - Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914), "The Devil's Dictionary", 1911
  • "To take wine into your mouth is to savor a droplet of the river of human history." - Clifton Fadiman, N. Y. Times, 8 Mar '87
  • "A bottle of wine begs to be shared; I have never met a miserly wine lover." - Clifton Fadiman, N. Y. Times, 8 Mar '87

The Spanish weigh in:

  • "For a bad night, a mattress of wine." - Spanish proverb
  • "I have enjoyed great health at a great age because everyday since I can remember I have consumed a bottle of wine except when I have not felt well. Then I have consumed two bottles." -A Bishop of Seville


And the German view:

  • "Life is much too short to drink bad wine!" ("Das Leben ist viel zu kurz, um schlechten Wein zu trinken!")
  • Johann Wolfgang Goethe, the German poet, was asked, which three things he would take to an island. His response: "Poetry, a beautiful woman and enough bottles of the world's finest wines to survive this dry period!" Then he was asked what he would leave back first, if he could take only two things to the island. Briefly he replied he'd leave "The poetry!" Slightly surprised, the man asked the next question: "And Sir, what would you leave back if only one was allowed?" And Goethe thought for a couple of minutes and answered: "It depends on the vintage!"
  • "Her stories about [the German composer Johannes] Brahms's rudeness and wit amused me in particular. For instance, I loved the one about how a great wine connoisseur invited the composer to dinner. 'This is the Brahms of my cellar,' he said to his guests, producing a dust-covered bottle and pouring some into 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. 'Don't you like it?' asked the host. 'Hmm,' Brahms muttered. 'Better bring your Beethoven!'" - Arthur Rubinstein, "My Young Years"

Of course the French:

  • "God made only water, but man made wine."
    - Victor Hugo, "Les Contemplations (1856)
  • "A hard drinker, being at table, was offered grapes at dessert. 'Thank you,' said he, pushing the dish away from him, 'but I am not in the habit of taking my wine in pills.'"
    - "The Physiology of Taste" by Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
  • Baron James Rothschild sent Rossini [composer of 'The Barber of Seville', 'William Tell', etc.] some splendid grapes from his hothouse. Rossini, in thanking him, wrote, "although your grapes are superb, I don't like my wine in capsules." Rothschild read this as an invitation to send him some of his celebrated Chateau-Lafite, which he proceeded to do.
    - Lillie de Hergermann-Lindencrone, "In the Courts of Memory"
  • "When the wine [made at her chateau] is in the golden period of effervescing, any sick child in the village ticketed by the doctor can be brought to the wine-presses and dipped in. If labeled 'tres malade,' he is dipped in twice."
    - Lillie de Hergermann-Lindencrone, "In the Courts of Memory"
  • "Wine is made to be drunk as women are made to be loved; profit by the freshness of youth or the splendor of maturity; do not await decrepitude." - Theophile Malvezin


Some of the 'ancients' (more or less):

  • "I wonder what the vintners buy one half so precious as the stuff they sell."
    - Omar Khayyam
  • "Wine makes a man more pleased with himself; I do not say it makes him more pleasing to others."
    - Samuel Johnson
  • "It sloweth age, it strengtheneth youth, it helpeth digestion, it abandoneth melancholie, it relisheth the heart, it lighteneth the mind, it quickenth the spirits, it keepeth and preserveth the head from whirling, the eyes from dazzling, the tongue from lisping, the mouth from snaffling, the teeth from chattering and the throat from rattling; it keepeth the stomach from wambling, the heart from swelling, the hands from shivering, the sinews from shrinking, the veins from crumbling, the bones from aching,and the marrow from soaking. -copied by Joseph Lyons from a 16th Century manuscript
  • "French wines may be said but to pickle meat in the stomach, but this is the wine that digests, and doth not only breed good blood, but it nutrifieth also, being a glutinous substantial liquor; of this wine, if of any other, may be verified that merry induction: That good wine makes good blood, good blood causeth good humors, good humors cause good thoughts, good thoughts bring forth good works, good works carry a man to heaven, ergo, good wine carrieth a man to heaven." - British writer James Howell (1634)
  • A clipping from The Times of London, circa 1798:
    "'To which University,' said a lady, some time since, to the late sagacious Dr. Warren, 'shall I send my son?' 'Madam,' replied he, 'they drink, I believe, near the same quantity of Port in each of them.'"
  • "Come, come, good wine is a good familiar creature if it be well used; exclaim no more against it." - William Shakespeare "Othello" Act II, Sc. 3, line 293 
  • "In wine there is truth." - Pliny The Elder [A.D.23-79] "Natural History," Book XIV, Sect. 141
  • "There can be no bargain without wine." - Latin saying
  • "Wine can of their wits the wise beguile,
    Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile."
    - Homer, "Odyssey (9th c. B.C.)
  • "When there is plenty of wine, sorrow and worry take wing." - Ovid, "The Art of Love" (c. A.D. 8)
  • "The custom of saluting [i.e., embracing] ladies by their relatives and friends was introduced, it is said, by the early Romans, not out of respect originally, but to find by their breath whether they had been drinking wine, this being criminal for women to do, as it sometimes led to adultery." - Joseph Haydn, "Dictionary of Dates"
  • "On one occasion some one put a very little wine into a [glass], and said that it was sixteen years old. 'It is very small for its age,' said Gnathaena." - Athenaeus [c. A.D.200] "The Deipnosophists," XIII, 47
  • "Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more." - Proverbs 31:6-7:
  • "Who hath woe? Who hath sorrow? Who hath contentions? Who hath babblings? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine." - Proverbs 23:29-30
  • "No one that has drunk old wine wants new; for he says, 'The old is nice.'" - Luke 5:39
  • "There is evil in every berry of grape." - The Koran


And a mixed grabbag of others (mostly English):

  • Sir Robert Scott Caywood:
    "Compromises are for relationships, not wine."
  • "Wine is the drink of the gods, milk the drink of babes, tea the drink of women, and water the drink of beasts."
    - John Stuart Blackie
  • "If penicillin can cure those that are ill, Spanish sherry can bring the dead back to life."
    - Sir Alexander Fleming
  • "Tis pity wine should be so deleterious,
    For tea and coffee leave us much more serious." - Lord Byron
  • "The soft extractive note of an aged cork being withdrawn has the true sound of a man opening his heart." - William S. Benwell, "Journey to Wine in Victoria," Melbourne 76
  • "Nothing is so effective in keeping one young and full of lust as a discriminating palate thoroughly satisfied at least once a day." - Angelo Pelligrini, "The Unprejudiced Palate'
  • "... Mr. Tulkinghorn sits at one of the open windows, enjoying a bottle of old port. Though a hard-grained man, close, dry, and silent, he can enjoy old wine with the best. He has a priceless bin of port in some artful cellar under the Fields, which is one of his many secrets. When he dines alone in chambers, as he has dined to-day, and has his bit of fish and his steak or chicken brought in from the coffee-house, he descends with a candle to the echoing regions below the deserted mansion, and, heralded by the remote reverberation of thundering doors, comes gravely back, encircled by an earthy atmosphere and carrying a bottle from which he pours a radiant nectar, two score and ten years old, that blushes in the glass to find itself so famous,and fills the whole room with the fragrance of southern grapes."
    - Charles Dickens, "Bleak House"
  • "Writing in my sixty-fourth year, I can truthfully say that since I reached the age of discretion I have consistently drunk more than most people would say is good for me. Nor did I regret it. Wine has been for me a firm friend and a wise counsellor. has shown me matters in their true perspective, and has, as though by the touch of a magic wand, reduced great disasters to small inconveniences. 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 to do them."
    - Duff Cooper, "Old Men Forget"
  • "Good wine needs neither bush nor preface to make it welcome." - Sir Walter Scott "Perveril of the Peak," [1822] Chap. 4
  • "When [wines] were good they pleased my sense, cheered my spirits, improved my moral and intellectual powers, besides enabling me to confer the same benefits on other people." - George Saintsbury [1845-1913] "Notes on a Cellar Book"
  • "The Spirit of Wine
    Sang in my glass, and I listened
    With love to his odorous music,
    His flushed and magnificent song."
    - William Ernest Henly







Reply by dmcker, Apr 17, 2010.

As I once again read up the thread I see I need to apologize for a couple of redundant quotes, one by Thomas Jefferson and the other by Ernest Hemingway. My bad, Chip and Manoavino...

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