Thu 02 Mar 2017

Bottled Poetry For World Book Day


Today is World Book Day, and it was great seeing so many young Harrys, Hermiones, Matildas, Mad Hatters, Megs and Mogs on their way to celebrate at school this morning.

That said, why should they have all the fun? As ‘wine is bottled poetry’ (Robert Louis Stevenson), we turned to our most bookish colleagues to ask for a few of their favourite literary libations.

The results are below for you to curl up with at your leisure. But, like wine, literature is an endless source of new discoveries…

…so if you’ve got a favourite passage or poem, please leave us a comment and let us know!

Wine World Book Day

Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.
Paulo Coelho, Brida

As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.
Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Wine initiates us into the volcanic mysteries of the soil, and its hidden mineral riches; a cup of Samos drunk at noon in the heat of the sun or, on the contrary, absorbed of a winter evening when fatigue makes the warm current be felt at once in the hollow of the diaphragm and the sure and burning dispersion spreads along our arteries, such a drink provides a sensation which is almost sacred, and is sometimes too strong for the human head. No feeling so pure comes from the vintage-numbered cellars of Rome; the pedantry of great connoisseurs of wine wearies me.
Marguerite Yourcenar, Memoirs of Hadrian

The fragrant odour of the wine, O how much more dainty, pleasant, laughing (Riant, priant, friant.), celestial and delicious it is, than that smell of oil! And I will glory as much when it is said of me, that I have spent more on wine than oil, as did Demosthenes, when it was told him, that his expense on oil was greater than on wine.
François Rabelais, Gargantua & Pantagruel

I rejoiced in the Burgundy. It seemed a reminder that the world was an older and better place than Rex knew, that mankind in its long passion had learned another wisdom than his.
Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited

‘A Drinking Song’
Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That’s all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.
W.B. Yeats

…There’s wisdom in wine, goddam it!’ I yelled. ‘Have a shot!’
Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

Categories : Miscellaneous


  1. Bill George says:

    As Goethe once said “Life is too short to drink bad wine”. This is often misquoted as “Life is too short to drink cheap wine” but both are true.

    • Ian Shepherd says:

      Sorry Bill but I don’t agree. I have drunk some good quality cheap wine. Life is too short though – Goethe was correct in this respect.

  2. Julia says:

    « La vigne et le vin sont de grands mystères. Seule, dans le règne végétal, la vigne nous rend intelligible ce qu’est la véritable saveur de la terre. Quelle fidélité dans la traduction! Elle ressent, exprime par la grappe les secrets du sol. Le silex, par elle, nous fait connaître qu’il est vivant, fusible, nourricier. La craie ingrate pleure, en vin, des larmes d’or. »
    Colette (1873-1954)

  3. David Gow says:

    O for a draught of vintage! that hath been
    Cool’d a long age in the deep-delvèd earth,
    Tasting of Flora and the country-green,
    Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
    O for a beaker full of the warm South!
    Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
    With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
    And purple-stainèd mouth;
    That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
    And with thee fade away into the forest dim

    From Ode to a Nightingale by John Keats

    • Gavin McEwen says:

      A poem I learned at school more than half a century ago. The words have stayed with me and often come to me when anticipating or enjoying a glass of wine.

  4. Suzie Tydeman says:

    A Reflection on a Glass of Wine
    The colour of gold,
    Deep with reflecting brilliance,
    Entices you a little closer.
    Beguiling hints of exotic fruits,
    Lychees and white peaches,
    Heavenly vanilla,
    All assault your senses.
    At length I raise to my lips
    And am transported! Suzie Tydeman

  5. Will Stevens says:

    The velvety, perfumed liquor, between fawn and topaz, neither too sweet nor too dry, creamed in its generous glass. But I knew no wine composed of the whispers of angels’ wings, the breath of Eden and the foam and pulse of Youth renewed. So I asked what it might be.
    ‘It is champagne,’ he said gravely.
    ‘Then what have I been drinking all my life?’

    Rudyard Kipling – ‘The Bull that Thought’

    • Will Stevens says:

      It may be considered bad form to respond to one’s own message, but I omitted to add that Kipling goes on to say that the wine referred to cost thirty shillings a bottle. Now that’s a real challenge to the Wine Society: list a wine like that at £1.50!

  6. Jeannie Abbott says:

    Wine is like life, one sip isn’t enough

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