Quotations about   wine

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Life is too short to drink bad wine.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, statesman, scientist
(Misattributed)

Often attributed to him, but not found in Goethe's works. The attribution, though, may come from translators' commentary on Goethe's West–Eastern Diwan, "The Book of the Cup-Bearer" (1819/1827), that refers to a poetic passage as deriving from Diez's 1811 translation of the Book of Kabus (Qabus):

It comes to this, that it is a sin to drink wine. If though, then committest sin, commit it at least for the best wine, for otherwise wouldst though on one part commit sin, and on another drink bad wine. By God! that would be the most sorrowful among sorrowful things. [tr. Rogers (1890)]

It so happens that wine-drinking is a sin. Hence, if you do commit this sin, do it at least with the best wine; otherwise, you'll commit the sin, on the one hand, and on the other, you'll drink bad wine. By God! That would be the sorriest of all sorry things. [tr. Ormsby (2019)]


More information: The Big Apple: “Life is too short to drink cheap wine”
Added on 9-Apr-21 | Last updated 19-Apr-21
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To confirm still more your piety and gratitude to Divine Providence, reflect upon the situation which it has given to the elbow. You see in animals, who are intended to drink the waters that flow upon the earth, that if they have long legs, they have also a long neck, so that they can get at their drink without kneeling down. But man, who was destined to drink wine, is framed in a manner that he may rise 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 nearer the shoulder, that part would have been so long that when it attempted to carry the wine to the mouth it would have overshot the mark, and gone beyond the head; thus, either way, we should have been in the case of Tantalus. But from the actual situation of the elbow, we are enabled to drink at our ease, the glass going directly to the mouth. Let us, then, with glass in hand, adore this benevolent wisdom; — let us adore and drink!

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Letter to the Abbé Morallet, Postscript (1779)
    (Source)
Added on 12-Nov-20 | Last updated 12-Nov-20
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What a strange machine man is! You fill him with bread, wine, fish, and radishes, and out comes sighs, laughter, and dreams.

Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957) Greek writer and philosopher
Zorba the Greek, ch. 23 (1946)
Added on 9-Nov-20 | Last updated 9-Nov-20
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When a Man’s exhausted, wine will build his strength.

[Ἀνδρὶ δὲ κεκμηῶτι μένος μέγα οἶνος ἀέξει.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Iliad, Book 6, l. 261 (c. 750 BC) [tr. Fagles (1990), l. 310]

Alt. trans.
For to a man dismay’d
With careful spirits, or too much with labour overlaid,
Wine brings much rescue, strength'ning much the body and the mind.
[tr. Chapman (1611), ll. 274-76]

Then with a plenteous draught refresh thy soul,
And draw new spirits from the generous bowl.
[tr. Pope (1715-20)]

For wine is mighty to renew the strength
Of weary man.
[tr. Cowper (1791), ll. 318-19]

For to a wearied man wine greatly increases strength.
[tr. Buckley (1860)]

For great the strength
Which gen'rous wine imparts to men who toil.
[tr. Derby (1864), ll. 306-07]

When a man is awearied wine greatly maketh his strength to wax.
[tr. Leaf/Lang/Myers (1891)]

Wine gives a man fresh strength when he is wearied.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

When a man is spent with toil wine greatly maketh his strength to wax.
[tr. Murray (1924)]

In a tired man, wine will bring back his strength to its bigness.
[tr. Lattimore (1951)]

Wine will restore a man when he is weary as you are.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1974)]

When someone is fatigued, wine greatly increases his power.
[tr. Merrill (2007)]

Added on 30-Sep-20 | Last updated 24-Nov-20
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DEMOSTHENES: And dare you rail at wine’s inventiveness?
I tell you nothing has such go as wine.
Why, look you now; ’tis when men drink, they thrive,
Grow wealthy, speed their business, win their suits,
Make themselves happy, benefit their friends.
Go, fetch me out a stoup of wine, and let me
Moisten my wits, and utter something bright.

Aristophanes (c.450-c.388 BC) Athenian comedic playwright
Knights, ll. 90-96 [tr. Rogers (1924)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.
  • [O'Neill (1938)]: "Do you dare to accuse wine of clouding the reason? Quote me more marvellous effects than those of wine. Look! when a man drinks, he is rich, everything he touches succeeds, he gains lawsuits, is happy and helps his friends. Come, bring hither quick a flagon of wine, that I may soak my brain and get an ingenious idea."
  • [Hickie (1853)]: "Have you the audacity to abuse wine for witlessness? Can you find anything more business-like than wine? Do you see? when men drink, then they are rich, they transact business, gain causes, are happy, assist their friends. Come, bring me out quickly a stoup of wine, that I may moisten my intellect, and say something clever."
Added on 20-May-20 | Last updated 20-May-20
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Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Proverbs 20:1 [KJV]

Alt. trans.:
  • "Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise." [NRSV]
  • "Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise." [NIV]
  • "Wine is a luxurious thing, and drunkenness riotous: whosoever is delighted therewith shall not be wise." [DRA]
Added on 31-May-17 | Last updated 31-May-17
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The girl that I will marry
Will be like a fine wine
That will become better
A bit every morning.

[La fille que j’aimera
Sera comme bon vin
Qui se bonifiera
Un peu chaque matin.]

Brel - like a fine wine - wist_info quote

Jacques Brel (1929-1978) Belgian singer, songwriter, actor
“Bachelor’s Dance [La Bourrée Du Célibataire]” (1957)

More commonly translated for English (by Eric Blau): "The girl that I will marry / Will age without a fear / And like the wine grow mellower / With every passing year."
Added on 5-Feb-16 | Last updated 5-Feb-16
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I have never gotten into wine. I’m a beer man. What I like about beer is you basically just drink it, then you order another one. You don’t sniff at it, or hold it up to the light and slosh it around, and above all you don’t drone on and on about it, the way people do with wine. Your beer drinker tends to be a straightforward, decent, friendly, down-to-earth person who enjoys talking about the importance of relief pitching, whereas your serious wine fancier tends to be an insufferable snot.

Dave Barry (b. 1947) American humorist
“Daze of Wine and Roses,” Dave Barry’s Greatest Hits (1988)
Added on 23-Oct-14 | Last updated 23-Oct-14
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Take a drink because you pity yourself, and then the drink pities you and has a drink, and then two good drinks get together and that calls for drinks all around. No; he’d have one drink, maybe a little bigger than usual, before he went to bed.

H. Beam Piper (1904-1964) American author
Little Fuzzy (1962)
Added on 17-Apr-14 | Last updated 17-Apr-14
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It seems there is something spiritual in wine.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées (1838) [ed. Auster (1983)]
Added on 7-Oct-13 | Last updated 13-May-16
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Wine has drowned more than the sea.

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings]

Alt. trans.: "Wine drowns more than the sea."
Added on 14-Jun-13 | Last updated 15-Feb-17
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Who loves not wine, women, and song
Remains a fool his whole life long.

[Wer nicht liebt Weib, Wein und Gesang,
A Der bleibt ein Narr sein Leben lang.]

Martin Luther (1483-1546) German religious reformer
(Attributed)

Attributed in Matthias Claudius, Der Wandsbecker Bothe (1775). Inscription in the Luther Room, Wartburg, Germany.
Added on 24-May-13 | Last updated 1-May-17
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First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) American writer [Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald]
(Attributed)

See also Hokekyo-Sho, Piper, and this Spanish Proverb.

Added on 7-Aug-09 | Last updated 17-Apr-14
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PORTER: It provokes and unprovokes; it provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance: therefore much drink may be said to be an equivocator with lechery: it makes him, and it mars him: it sets him on, and it takes him off.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Macbeth Act 2, sc. 3, l. 32 (1605)
Added on 22-Dec-08 | Last updated 26-Mar-15
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Wine hath drowned more Men than the Sea.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs, #5744 (1732)
    (Source)
Added on 8-Dec-08 | Last updated 26-Jan-21
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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!

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Letter to the Abbé Morallet (1779)
    (Source)

Apparent origin of the misquote: "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 12-Nov-20
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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) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
Apothegms, # 97 (1624)

See Alfonso X.

Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 16-May-16
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A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread — and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness —
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!

Omar Khayyám (1048-1123) Persian poet, mathematician, philosopher, astronomer
Rubáiyát, 12 [tr. FitzGerald, 4th ed. (1879)]

Alternate trans:
Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough, A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse - and Thou Beside me singing in the Wilderness - And Wilderness is Paradise enow. [FitzGerald, 11, 1st ed. (1859)]
Should our day's portion be one mancel loaf, A haunch of mutton and a gourd of wine Set for us two alone on the wide plain, No Sultan's bounty could evoke such joy. A gourd of red wine and a sheaf of poems — A bare subsistence, half a loaf, not more — Supplied us two alone in the free desert: What Sultan could we envy on his throne? [Graves & Ali-Shah, 11-12 (1967)]
Yes, Loved One, when the Laughing Spring is blowing, With Thee beside me and the Cup o’erflowing, I pass the day upon this Waving Meadow, And dream the while, no thought on Heaven bestowing. [Garner, 1.20 (1888)]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 31-Jul-17
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