Literary wine references

"At quite an early stage I learned one important lesson, and that is that the pleasure of wine consists only partly in itself; the good talk that is inseparable from a wine dinner is even more important than the wines that are being served. Never bring up your better bottles if you are entertaining a man who cannot talk. Keep your treasures for a night when those few who are nearest to your heart can gather round your table, free from care, with latchkeys in their pockets and no last train to catch."

My phone's predictive text suggested 'free from viruses'.
 
"The late Horatio Bottomley had many demerits; but he was clever enough to appreciate the value of a good draught of Champagne at eleven o'clock in the morning. Harry Preston used to say that eleven o'clock was the ideal time for the wine; just a chicken sandwich and a pint."

From a work of non fiction.
 
"The late Horatio Bottomley had many demerits; but he was clever enough to appreciate the value of a good draught of Champagne at eleven o'clock in the morning. Harry Preston used to say that eleven o'clock was the ideal time for the wine; just a chicken sandwich and a pint."

From a work of non fiction.
I remember reading that Churchill felt that an imperial pint was an ideal size of champagne bottle for one…
 
New and very welcome to my taste buds on my first British Yuletide was the classic English Christmas Day dessert sticky toffee pudding. I'm not one for sweets, but for some reason I find this very hard to resist, especially with a glass of good port....

- Stanley Tucci, Taste

Classic Christmas Day dessert? I shall never watch Captain America again.
 
New and very welcome to my taste buds on my first British Yuletide was the classic English Christmas Day dessert sticky toffee pudding. I'm not one for sweets, but for some reason I find this very hard to resist, especially with a glass of good port....

- Stanley Tucci, Taste

Classic Christmas Day dessert? I shall never watch Captain America again.
Indeed. Mr. Tucci is obviously a good thing but I could scarcely believe his Negroni video that was widely circulated relatively recently. He SHAKES it!!!!!!!!
 
He isn't afraid of controversy, certainly. He almost makes me want to try minke whale, although I was reassured to find him giving the usual opinion of the culinary value of puffins.

(He is not, I should add, enamored of andouillette.)

(But is, to add further, enamored of a restaurant his present wife used to live above in Notting Hill, and which is soon reopening.)
 
Last edited:
The new crop of wine is drunk and discussed and drunk and discussed until the next crop appears. Pressed in the old Moorish fashion (while still in the jute sacks) the cloudy rosé catches the throat like a fado.


(Albufeira, Portugal in Horse under Water by Len Deighton)
 
Druin, I am just writing up an extraordinary Chambertin tasting I was privileged to attend earlier this month, and shall unashamedly borrow from Maurice Healy, thanks to your unearthing this fantastic reference. I have the book, and have indeed read it, but this particular beautifully written passage had escaped from my memory.
 
Lots of wine references scattered through the excellent "A Gentleman in Moscow" by Amor Towles. Here's one:

"And would you like some wine to go with your stew?" asked the Bishop.

The young man hesitated and then picked up the wine list with uncertain hands. It may have been the first time in his life that he had ordered a bottle of wine. Never mind that he didn't grasp the merits of the 1900 vesus the 1901, he didn't know a Burgundy from a Bordeaux.

Giving the young man no more than a minute to consider hisoptions, the Bishop leaned forward and poked the list with condescending smile.

"Perhaps the Rioja."

The Rioja? Now there was a wine that would clash with the stew as Achilles clashed with Hector. It would slay the dish with a blow to the head and drag it behind its chariot until it tested the fortitude of every man in Troy. Besides, it plainly cost three times what the young man could afford.

With a shake of the head, the Count reflected that there simply was no substitute for experience. Here had been an ideal opportunity for a waiter to fulfill his purpose. By recommending a suitable wine, he could have put the young man at ease, perfected a meal, and furthered the cause of romance, all in a stroke. But whether from a lack of subtlety or a lack of sense, the Bishop had not only failed in his purpose, he had put his customer in a corner. And the young man, clearly unsure of what to do and beginning to feel as if the whole restaurant were watching, was on the verge of accepting the Bishop's suggestion.

"If I may," the Count interjected. "For a serving of Latvian stew, you will lfind no better choice than a bottle of the Mukuzani."

Leaning toward their table and mimicking the perfectly parted fingers of Andey, the Count gestered to the entry on the list. That this wine was a fraction of teh cost of Rioja need not be a matter of discussion between gentlemen. Instead, teh Count simply noted: "The Georgians practically grow their grapes in the hopes that one day they will accompany such a stew."
 
Druin, I am just writing up an extraordinary Chambertin tasting I was privileged to attend earlier this month, and shall unashamedly borrow from Maurice Healy, thanks to your unearthing this fantastic reference. I have the book, and have indeed read it, but this particular beautifully written passage had escaped from my memory.
I enjoyed reading your notes, but remain convinced I would have enjoyed being there even more, much as I should enjoy dining with friends who have their Rembrandts on display.

I note that, swayed by Thom's reaction, you omitted the Ulsterman.
 
‘Being able to spot the subtle signs of a potential ne’er-do-well across the lobby was essential. At New York’s opulent Plaza Hotel in 1911, the house detective spotted one guest whose “manners were very good, except he handled his fork upside down. But when he put sugar in his claret, he became an object of suspicion.” Already the house detective had his beady eye on the guest. “If he isn’t a crook, he’s a dangerous lunatic,” was the house man’s verdict.’
 
"Whenever the devil harasses you, seek the company of men or drink more, or joke and talk nonsense, or do some other merry thing. Sometimes we must drink more, sport, recreate ourselves, and even sin a little to spite the devil, so that we leave him no place for troubling our consciences with trifles. We are conquered if we try too conscientiously not to sin at all. So when the devil says to you: do not drink, answer him: I will drink, and right freely, just because you tell me not to."
 
Top