To exalt, enthrone, establish and defend,
To welcome home mankind's mysterious friend
Wine, true begetter of all arts that be;
Wine, privilege of the completely free;
Wine the recorder; wine the sagely strong;
Wine, bright avenger of sly-dealing wrong,
Awake, Ausonian* Muse, and sing the vineyard song!
* Of ancient Ausonians [Italians] - (poetic) Italian here
Conscious choice? here
Wine is harmony here
To be enjoyed here
Blood of the grape here
Work of art here
Pleasurable sensations here
"never a craving" here
The glass? here
Glassware fetish here
Egg-shaped glasses here
Enamel mug here
A moment, and I drink it with you new:
But in my Father's Kingdom." So, my Friend,
Let not Your cup desert me in the end.
But when the hour of mine adventure's near
Just and benignant, let my youth appear
Bearing a Chalice, open, golden, wide,
With benediction graven on its side.
So touch my dying lip: so bridge that deep:
So pledge my waking from the gift of sleep,
And, sacramental, raise me the Divine:
Strong brother in God and last companion, Wine.
The first and last verses of
An Heroic Poem in Praise of Wine
Hilaire Belloc - 1870 - 1953 here. Read it all here.
... few of us make our choice of daily beverage consciously. With alcohol, it is usually determined by our nation of birth; our education and income level; and our parents’ income and lifestyle. Though the range of wines available today is bigger and better than ever before, and more of us choose wine as our mealtime drink, wine lovers are still a minority of the world’s population. If wine were on every table, I believe our planet would be an infinitely more peaceful – and civilised – place.
In all times and among all nations, we find the praises of wine sung by the poets and we find also wine more highly valued as men become more civilized. And how could it be otherwise since Wine is harmony. What tonality, what modulations, what a melody there is for the connoisseur in a glass of brilliant wine, fragrant with the subdued perfume of verbena and violets, as softly it flows upon its downwards and last journey, lightly touching the taste chords of the palate!
Of course, it is quite possible to live—to live a long and virtuous life—without having ever tasted a glass of wine, looked at a picture or heard a note of music, but what a life!
There are some well-meaning people in the world who would be only too pleased to understand wine, but who are convinced that it is beyond them, they imagine that they lack the time, the disposition or the means to become wine connoisseurs In this they are entirely wrong Are there not a great many people who can neither paint nor play, and yet thoroughly enjoy good music and fine painting? They can also enjoy good wine.
What is Wine?
Wine is the living blood of the grape. Wine is harmony, a marvellously complex and well-balanced blend of ever so many different substances in a solution of water and alcohol.
Andre Simon, THE ART OF GOOD LIVING, Michael Joseph, 1951, p 36
WINE MAY be a work of art, but it is not a museum piece to be looked at and admired: it is a drink, first and foremost, and the great majority of the very ordinaires or common, rough, young wines which the sweating toilers of the soil quaff in large quantities, wherever grapes grow on a big scale, are without looks, without bouquet and without charm, yet they are wholesome, satisfying and helpful.
But all the better of wines, mature wines and carefully made wines, besides being wholesome, satisfying and helpful, are also capable of imparting to our senses of sight, smell and taste the pleasurable sensations, provided, however, that we handle them rightly and understand the service of wine.
The service of wine should be such that any and every wine has chance to show how good it can be, which means, chiefly, served in good condition, at the right temperature, in the right glasses more on that theme laterhere, and at the right time.
Andre Simon, Drink, Burke Publishing, 1948, p 259.
Within the human interaction with wine, praising it is but one aspect. The "Wine Descriptors" page displays a broad range of terms which can be used to cover wine which is excellent, average, mediocre and undrinkable.
What about the glass? Is a good wine as good if the glass is not right?
In winetasting circles, the glass is almost as important to the experience as the vino poured in to it. From the shape and size of the bowl to the thickness of the rim; the design of the glass is long renowned for having the ability to either enhance or ruin a wine's bouquet, taste and balance. But what about the rest of us? Does quality stemware really make the average person's wine taste measurably better? And do we really benefit from having one glass for Burgundy and another for Bordeaux?
For those who have a glassware fetish (and wineglass sales suggest that, unless we're a nation of ham-fisted washer-uppers, many of us do), the good news is that it's widely accepted that well thought-out, high-end wine glasses can make a huge difference to our perception of wine. The bad news is that many (even top-drawer) wineglass manufacturers get it wrong and forking out a fortune isn't an automatic ticket to taste.
It was the Austrian glassmakers Riedel who as good as invented the functional wineglass. Back in the late Fifties, Claus Riedel created a range of glasses shaped like eggs rather than the traditional 'V' or tulip shape. The theory (still accepted today) was that the tongue has different taste sensitivities relating to acidity, bitterness, saltiness and sweetness. He must have jumped with joy at the marketing potential. By doing nothing more than changing the rim, depth and diameter of the glass, he could direct a wine to particular areas of the palate and in doing so emphasise its more favourable attributes while masking the more negative ones.
"Smell is the most rudimentary of the senses and goes hand in hand with taste", says Charles East, a consultant ear, nose and throat surgeon based in London's Harley Street. Smell was originally a defence mechanism - your last chance before you taste something to tell whether it might be poisonous, he explains. "This is why the complexity of wines, and the volatile oils and aromas they gye off, are much better concentrated in an egg-shaped glass." Indeed, on tasting the same wine from a Sauvignon Blanc glass (which deceptively holds half a bottle), the difference is astonishing. The primary aromas are pleasingly delicate and it testes zesty, softer and smoother. Also noticeable is the glass - much finer and thinner, thanks to the lead crystal. Thick or rolled rims, a common feature of cheaper glasses, are Turner's absolute bugbear, having no hope at all of focusing the delivery of wine.
Many lead crystal wine glasses are, of course, gratifyingly heavy, especially cut glass. True wine lovers should avoid like the plague weighty glasses and inscriptions and designs on the bowl, however, as the less that comes between the wine and the palate, the better. That's why glass manufacturers ... constantly strive for completely colourless glassware, and indeed aim to make a rim that's barely noticeable at mouth.
Kate Hilpern, The [UK] Independent - Food and Drink pages, 1 April 2010, p 8
Think of the relationship between wine and its vessel as akin to the relationship between recorded music and a hi-fi. Listening to great music on rubbish speakers does it no favours.
Spend on a glass what you would spend on a bottle.
The bowl should always be big enough to swirl the wine around in.
Shop carefully. Choose shops where staff know their onions. ..
A glass by Germany's Eisch that is controversially described as made of special 'breathable" glass here has been making an impression. And Riedel's range of '0' glasses pushes out wine drinking boundaries by offering the classic wine glass shapes with no stem - for a more casual experience.
Never buy glassware with silver or gold on the rim as wine reacts with metal, changing its taste.
Keep your fancy glasses for the good bottles, especially those big reds. Use them every day at your peril.
Save the washing-up until the morning, or use the dishwasher. Most cleaning instructions for high-end wine glasses require unhampered concentration - in short, not for the inebriated.
Kate Hilpern, The [UK] Independent - Food and Drink pages, 1 April 2010, p 9
Kate Hilpern is a freelance journalist who has been writing on health, family, education, social issues, food and the workplace, among other subjects, for the past 15 years. She has written for the Independent, Guardian, Daily Express, Daily Mail, The Times, Evening Standard and magazines including Good Housekeeping, Woman & Home, Red and the Marketer. source
Can you praise a fine wine drinking raising a chipped-enamel mug?