The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

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Wine and Words? Best Wine Quotes, Ever?

Posted on | December 25, 2009 | Written by Frank Sansotta | 1 Comment

Last week the editor of Inside IWM wrote a post inspired by a long quote from a book, and reading that piece got me thinking about some of my favorite wine-related quotes. I’m not much for reading British novels, but I’m glad to have scrounged up more than a handful of wise, compelling and interesting things that other people have said about wine. Without further ado, here are three of my favorite wine quotes and why I love them.

“How it’s a living thing…. I like to think about what was going on the year the grapes were growing; how the sun was shining; if it rained. I like to think about all the people who tended and picked the grapes. And if it’s an old wine, how many of them have passed on by now. I like how wine continues to evolve, like if I opened a bottle of wine today it would taste different than if I’d opened it on any other day, because a bottle of wine is actually alive. And it’s constantly evolving and gaining complexity. That is, until it peaks, like your ’61. And then it begins its steady, inevitable decline … And it tastes so f***ing good.” –Maya, played by Virginia Madsen, in Sideways

I was in my senior year of college when Sideways came out, and I was religiously studying wine. I was obsessed with wine, and this was one of those quotes that solidified my decision to pursue a career in wine. When I first saw and heard this quote in the film Sideways, I felt the hair on the back of my neck jump, as if a beautiful woman was brushing the nape of my neck with her hand. Virginia Madsen’s character Maya’s quote uses just a few short lines to capture all the important aspects of wine: the harvest, the evolution in the bottle, and the end result. I wanted to jump into the screen and kiss Maya. This scene is one of the most beautiful moments for wine in any film ever made.

Later that year Madsen was on the cover of Wine Enthusiast Magazine. I framed that issue because of this quote. Or mostly because of that quote, anyway.

Let’s be honest: there’s only one activity more satisfying than drinking good wine with good food; and if you’re drinking wine in the right company, the one pleasure, more often than not, will lead to the other!” –Jay McInerney, Hedonist in the Cellar: Adventures in Wine

Jay hits the nail on the head, and because of his exactitude, his is my very favorite wine quote. It’s so spot on that I’m very surprised many wine people don’t mention this quote more often. I can remember reading this and saying to myself, “This guy gets it.” Wine is one of those few things that make you feel so warm and cozy inside. It gets the blood flowing. This quote makes me think of two people sitting on a couch next to the fire sipping a glass of their favorite red, each gazing deeply and passionately into one another’s eyes, each savoring the moment and yet looking forward to even more pleasurable moments to come. Kudos to Jay McInerney for giving voice to the sensual aspects of wine and how enjoying it can lead to more than just a hangover.

“Wine to me is passion.  It’s family and friends. It’s warmth of heart and generosity of spirit. Wine is art. It’s culture. It’s the essence of civilization and the art of living.” Robert Mondavi, Harvests Of Joy

The anchor to this quote for me is “family and friends.” There is nothing more gratifying to me than sitting around a table with my family and my friends, enjoying great food and wine. It’s one of the most meaningful, nurturing and special experiences in life. But what makes raises this quote and makes it spectacular is how Mondavi doesn’t just reference family, but the whole of human civilization. He seems to suggest that the art of wine is so important because same type of vine grown in two separate areas of the world, handled by different winemaking techniques can produce significantly different results. And these different results shape the culture that made them. Embedded in these two short lines is the rich history of wine, the way wine affected cultures throughout the history of the world, and how the world’s peoples were touched by wine. Mondavi understood that wine was more than just a beverage—wine brings people together in a wonderful, joyous, historical way!


One Response to “Wine and Words? Best Wine Quotes, Ever?”

  1. Melissa Sutherland
    December 28th, 2009 @ 12:38 pm

    Hey Frank — love these quotes. Always gets me thinking about wine in films or books, of course. One of my favorites is from Lawrence Osborne’s The Accidental Connoisseur: An Irreverent Journey Through the Wine World. He writes, “Acquiring taste is not the result of study, it’s a talent for living life.”

    Here’s to enthusiastically living life!

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