“Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.”
This wine quote by arguably the most famous American Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin, pretty much sums up the world’s devotion to wine. From ancient civilizations to the Romans, the New World, and eventually, throughout Asia, wine drinking has been a major part of people’s lives across history. Famous personalities and leaders the world over have raved about their love for wine, such as famed Hollywood Elizabeth Taylor, emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, as well as the inventor of Penicillin, Alexander Fleming, who quoted,
“Penicillin cures but wine makes you happy.”
From these two quotes alone, we can see that wine simply makes people happy. But is it more than that? Is drinking wine the answer to the human quest for happiness? Well, many people seem to think so. Even Scottish novelist, Robert Louis Stevenson, who authored Treasure Island and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, famously said,
“Wine is bottled poetry.”
What is it about our passion for wine? And why has it been devoured universally and even taken with every meal in some parts of the world, particularly in France? Let’s try to understand this obsession and begin our journey of wine culture by discussing its original role in society.
The Beginnings of Wine
Wine has been produced for thousands of years. In fact, the earliest evidence of wine is found in ancient Georgia dating back to 6000 BC. Wine was originally taken in the context of religious ceremonies and rituals. Evidence proves that ancient Egyptians associated red wine with blood, and so did early religions of Judaism and Christianity.
It is believed that the intoxicating effect of wine was used by early religions as a means to communicate with God. This could explain why it was so highly valued in temples and religious celebrations.
It was the Romans, however, that started to produced wine for the mere purpose of pleasure. Drinking wine was reserved for wealthy members of society, and the poor hardly had access to the drink.
It was only during the Renaissance Era in Europe that drinking wine became widespread. Wine drinking became a leisure and social activity, and eventually, bars and pubs started popping up all over the region. It was brought to the New World, where it was taken not for pleasure, but as a celebratory drink.
Today, the biggest producers of wine are Italy, Spain, and France, where they are an essential part of almost every meal.
Wine in Today’s Society
The late Robert Mondavi, whose vineyard has been declared as the best in North America and the 5th in the world, famously said:
“Enjoying fine food and wine at the family table, surrounded by your loved ones and friends, is not just a joy – it’s one of the highest forms of living.”
Indeed, wine is a constant in many of life’s celebrations, from weddings to anniversaries, graduations, New Year’s celebrations, and many dinners with loved ones.
Wine drinking is more and more prevalent in today’s society, even in Asia where drinking tea has always been the traditional accompaniment to meals for thousands of years.
From drinking wine to celebrate momentous events to finishing a bottle on your own when life throws you punches, to travelling to the best vineyards in the world purely for a wine tasting adventure – it’s clear to see that wine has been a constant companion in this thing called life.
Wine is considered to have an important role in bringing people together. A facilitator of social exhange. It motivates people to socialise and party. It loosens the tongue and frees the mind, expanding the imagination and makes people reflect on life.
In Europe, particularly in France, wine is served with every meal. In Argentina, wine is even more prevalent than water in many areas. In other parts of the world, wine is only taken on special occasions. Whether good or bad times, wine makes for a great accompaniment for life’s best and most devastating moments. As Napoleon Bonaparte said about wine,
“In victory, you deserve Champagne. In defeat, you need it.”
From this quote, one can gauge that wine is indeed the drink you need on life’s most memorable occasions, be it good or bad.
Drinking Wine to Unwind
“Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together.”
Iconic Hollywood actress Elizabeth Taylor once said this quote about drinking wine and how it can help women get past troubles and put their chin up.
Aside from being a celebratory drink, the perfect beverage to enhance the flavor of dishes, and as a regular beverage for socialization, people all over the world have used wine to unwind, de-stress, and forget their troubles away.
Italian priest and philosopher, Thomas Aquinas, famously said about wine:
“Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath, and a glass of wine.”
Indeed, the relaxing and intoxicating nature of wine brings people pleasure and relaxation. A drink to melt the worries away, even for a few hours, wine can soothe the soul and calm the weariest of minds.
Another famous Hollywood actress shared this very sentiment, when she said,
“There comes a time in every woman’s life when the only thing that helps is a glass of Champagne.”
Indeed, wine has come a long way from its beginnings and associations with religious practices. Wine continues to be a big part of the culture for many regions of the world, as well as for many generations to come. While we continue to practice the standards and traditions of wine culture, new and interesting ways of drinking wine will eventually emerge, as they did over the centuries.
A great source of unity, of coming together, to celebrate, or to simply unwind at the end of a gruelling day, wine certainly moves and makes people’s lives better, wherever you may be in the world.
And if you’re not a fan or have always veered away from making it a part of your life, it might be time to start discovering the joys of this age-old beverage. As Robert Noecker, from the Garco Wine Company, has said,
“My only regret in life is that I didn’t drink enough wine.”
Don’t live your life with this regret, indulge today and discover the amazing things wine can bring.