Wine quotes, like grapes themselves, tend to come in bunches. From those who’ve sipped a bottle of Riesling and claimed, “That’s the best wine I’ve ever had,” to those who, after a wild night, spend their morning assuring that they will “never drink again,” quotes are part of wine culture. The famous and not so famous alike have uttered them. But, not surprisingly, it’s only the famous that get theirs in print.
Now, reading a wine book and coming across a quote by some of these famous isn’t far fetched. An utterance by Mark Twain isn’t going to shock anyone: Twain made it well known that he enjoyed the pleasures of life. Similarly, a wine quote by Ernest Hemmingway is more likely to leave the reader saying, “Duh!,” rather than, “Huh?” But, not every wine quote is uttered by someone as obvious; sometimes the best wine quotes come from those you might not expect.
Thomas Jefferson: If there is a wine God, Jefferson’s resume will someday read: US President, Author of the Declaration of Independence, Founding Father, but, most importantly, wine drinker. The person whose Presidency led to the Lewis and Clark Expedition as well as the Louisiana Purchase also knew the importance of a bottle of Vino. He is quoted as saying, “Good wine is a necessity of life for me.”
One of the largest criticizers of the British government, Jefferson was also concerned with wine from a monetary aspect: tea wasn’t the only thing that perpetuated the “no taxation against representation” mantra. Wine was also on the mind as Jefferson stated, “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.”
Louis Pasteur: You might not typically think of Louis Pasteur as much of a wine drinker. But, a man who is known for some of the greatest scientific discoveries, Lou (he said we could call him that) wasn’t just a chemist, he was a French chemist. That’s right, enter the wine.
His contributions to science are nearly too many to list but include confirming the germ theory of disease, creating the first rabies vaccine, reducing the fatality of puerperal fever, discovering the asymmetry of crystals, and being one of the patriarchs of microbiology. For many, pasteurization was where he left his greatest mark. Through this process, he discovered how to stop milk and, oh yes, wine from going sour. In regards to the latter, Louis Pasteur is quoted as saying, “Wine is the most healthful and most hygienic of beverages.”
Homer: Despite what people of recent generations may think, we aren’t quoting Homer Simpson. If we were, we’d probably provide a quote of, “Mmmm….wine,” or, perhaps, “Bor-DEAUX!” Instead, we are talking about Homer, the author (or the name given to the authors) of epic Greek poems, namely The Iliad and The Odyssey.
Regardless if Homer is but one man, one woman, or the name for a bit of both, the writings that came from “him” speak of wine, and, let’s face it, that speaks to us. In The Iliad, Homer writes, “Wine gives strength to weary men.” We wonder if this Homer would choose a Pinot Grigio over a Duff Beer. We are guessing yes.
John Milton: Like Homer, Milton was known for composing epic poems, most famously Paradise Lost. A piece not for those looking for a quick read, Paradise Lost features the fall of humankind as Adam and Eve were expelled from Paradise by the lure of Satan.
Well known as being one of the most important poets in literature, Milton was also an avid opponent of censorship. His Areopagitica speech, published amid the English Civil War, featured a fervent plea in favor of the freedom of speech. It wasn’t, however, only free speech that made him impassioned. He was also a fan of wine, once quoted as saying, “Wine, one sip of this will bathe the drooping spirits in delight beyond the bliss of dreams. Be wise and taste.”
Benjamin Franklin: Someone who did more for America than perhaps anybody else, Benjamin Franklin, frankly put, was a man of many talents. From Founding Father to author, from scientist to inventor, from diplomat to politician, Franklin is credited with helping establish the idea of America as an independent nation. Simply put, he may have invented the United States.
A man of immeasurable intelligence, Franklin knew a good thing when he saw it. From a wine lover’s standpoint, nothing attests to this notion more than his quote, “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.”
Wine has touched the hearts and tongues of all kinds of people, those who enjoy it silently and those, like the above mentioned, who can’t help but say a mouthful.