Wine Quotes 101



 

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Welcome to Wine Quotes 101, an ongoing feature of The Wine Lovers' Page in which we salute and celebrate the memorable words that famous (and not-so-famous) authors have had to say about wine. This collection began with an enjoyable online discussion in January 1998 by members of the Wine Lovers' Discussion Group. Since then, it has continued to grow thanks to submissions by many people.

If you know a great wine quote that should be on this list, please let us know! From time to time we will select an entry at random and give the donor a small, wine-related prize. Do bear in mind that quotes should be attributed, and if not in the public domain, must include permission of the source or copyright holder.

Meet WQ101 Host Bob Ross
Bob Ross
BOB ROSS

Now I would like to introduce the new host of Wine Quotes 101, Bob Ross, a wine lover and wine-quotes enthusiast based in the Northeastern U.S. Bob has collected more wine quotes than anyone I know, and takes great delight in discovering new ones and tracking down the history and sources of well-known words about wine. If you would like to contact Bob directly, click here to send him a message.

Last April, writing for the quarterly Tendrils, a respected publication about wine books, Bob wrote a short piece about his interest in wine quotes. It is republished here with his permission:

I have been interested in quotations about wine for several years. At first, I collected collections of wine quotes, ones that focussed on the apt turn of phrase, in collections like these:

Vineyard Tales: Reflections on Wine, by Gerald Asher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 1996. A wine memoir, with quotations integral to the text; "When I was still too young to have tasted wine, I met it in the pages of Chaucer and Balzac and Keats ... There are references to wine everywhere." Frank Prial wrote: "Reading this book is like dipping into a good wine cellar - relishing a fine Burgundy tonight, a California zinfandel tomorrow, a Napa Valley cabernet next week. Adapted from columns written over the past 24 years for Gourmet magazine. " ... a particularly handsome volume. Mr. Asher's savvy came from the London wine trade, but his elegant prose derives from a different crowd: he mentions Paul Claudel, Fay Waldon, Chaucer, Balzac, Keats and Hemingway, among others." Highly recommended. *****.

The Fireside Book of Wine, by Alexis Bespaloff. A wonderful collection of wine related quotations and longer passages; now out of print. Highly recommended. *****.

Bottled Wisdom, A Compilation of Over 1,000 Spirited Quotations and Anecdotes, compiled and edited by Mark Pollman, Wildstone Media, 1998. A fair collection of wine quotes, stronger in spirits, and with some X-rated materials. ***.

The Essential Wine Buff, edited by Jennifer Taylor, 1996. ISBN 0-7090-5242-1. Excellent selection of wine-related quotations, nicely organized by topic. Strongly recommended. ****.

Wine Quotations: A Collection of Rich Paintings and the Best Wine Quotes, Edited by Helen Exley, Published by Exley Publications, UK (1994) ISBN 1-85015-434-1. A pretty little book with nice illustrations and a surprisingly good selection of quotations. A safe gift to a beginning wine lover. Recommended. ***; as Beaujolais: *****.

And of course Cyril Ray’s Compleat Imbiber series is indispensable. *****.

More interesting in many ways are quotations that led me up "paths of knowledge" as Hugh Johnson writes:

"The scope of the subject of wine is never ending, [as indeed,] so many other subjects lie within its boundaries. Without geography and topography it is incomprehensible; without history it is colorless; without taste it is meaningless; without travel it remains unreal. It embraces botany, chemistry, agriculture, carpentry, economics – any number of sciences whose names I do not even know. It leads you up paths of knowledge and by-ways of experience you would never glimpse without it."

My favorite wine related quote is from Willa Cather (On the Gull’s Road, 1908). The characters of the two women are beautifully drawn in a short spare account:

"Imagine how this bay [of Naples] looked to a Finmark girl. It seemed like the overture to Italy."

I laughed. "And then one goes up the country -- song by song and wine by wine."

Mrs. Ebbling sighed. "Ah, yes. It must be fine to follow it. I have never been away from the seaports myself."

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