The Old Woman and the Wine-Jar
YOU must know that sometimes old women like a glass of wine. One of this sort once found a Wine-Jar lying in the road, and eagerly went up to it hoping to find it full. But when she took it up she found that all the wine had been drunk out of it. Still she took a long sniff at the mouth of the Jar. “Ah,” she cried,
“WHAT MEMORIES CLING ’ROUND THE INSTRUMENTS OF OUR PLEASURE.”
~Æsop. (Sixth century B.C.) Fables. The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.
When I was younger, I rarely took a sip of wine. However, now that I am a granny with plenty of aches and pains, it's a rare evening that passes by without finding me sipping a glass of red, usually a full-bodied Shiraz or a Cabernet Franc.
Out of curiosity, I checked my old "Familiar Quotations" for any quotes about wine. I discovered quite a few.
The first one was a puzzle:
Good wine needs neither bush nor preface
To make it welcome. ~ Sir Walter Scott
Shakespeare had a shorter version in his play, "As You Like It." During the Epilogue, a female character intones, "Good wine needs no bush."
Good wine needs no bush? What was Shakespeare talking about? It wasn't until I read the following quote that I started to understand:
You need not hang up the ivy branch over the wine that will sell.—Publius Syrus: Maxim 968. In
Ancient Greece, wine sellers used to hang a branch of ivy outside to advertise their wine shop. Of course, really good wine didn't need a branch of ivy, because word-of-mouth was enough advertisement. People knew where to go for a good wine!
Sparkling and bright in liquid light
Does the wine our goblets gleam in;
With hue as red as the rosy bed
Which a bee would choose to dream in.
Then fill to-night, with hearts as light
To loves as gay and fleeting
As bubbles that swim on the beaker’s brim
And break on the lips while meeting.Charles Fenno Hoffman (1806–1884)
Wine is best shared with friends or family. It tends to mellow the heart and relax the soul, which leads to many great conversations. As the following quotes warn, a glass of wine can make the imbiber relax their guard, and tell the truth.
And wine can of their wits the wise beguile,
Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile. ~Alexander Pope (1688–1744)
The Odyssey of Homer. Book xiv. Line 520.
It has become quite a common proverb that in wine there is truth.
~Pliny the Elder (A.D. c. 23–A.D. 79)
Bronze is the mirror of the form; wine, of the heart. ~Aeschylus (525–456 B.C.)
Wine is better with age. So are many other things:
Alonso of Aragon was wont to say in commendation of age, that age appears to be best in four things,—old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.
~Francis Bacon (1561–1626)
Is not old wine wholesomest, old pippins toothsomest, old wood burns brightest, old linen wash whitest? Old soldiers, sweetheart, are surest, and old lovers are soundest.
—John Webster: Westward Hoe, act ii. sc. 2.
Old friends are best. King James used to call for his old shoes; they were easiest for his feet.—Selden: Table Talk. Friends.
What find you better or more honourable than age? Take the preheminence of it in everything,—in an old friend, in old wine, in an old pedigree.—Shakerley Marmion (1602–1639): The Antiquary.
I love everything that ’s old,—old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wine.
Oliver Goldsmith: She Stoops to Conquer, act i. [back]
With years a richer life begins,
The spirit mellows:
Ripe age gives tone to violins,
Wine, and good fellows.
~John Townsend Trowbridge
I thank God for His gift of good wine, good friends, good books, and good manners.
How about you? Do you like a glass of wine? What's your favourite quote about wine?