Great wine lovers throughout history have set a very high standard for the rest of us. Collectors (and imbibers) of the past have made wine more accessible to us all.
The cunning warrior Odysseus was a famous lover of wine. Wine didn’t just keep him and his men going at the long journey at sea; it actually saved his life. He had brought some wine along with him (of course) when he camped out on the cyclops’ island. When he found himself trapped in a cave, he came up with a plan to escape. You see, Odysseus’ wine was too good for the cyclops to pass up. After drinking deep of the good Greek wine, the cyclops was too slow to stop Odysseus from tricking him and making a daring escape. Afterwards, the men celebrated with what else? More wine!
Another famous wine lover was the great Thomas Jefferson. He spent months at a time in France and Italy, visiting the greatest wine regions in the world to find cases to ship home. He also pioneered direct-to-consumer sales to American consumers. He drank wine a bottle at a time (his measure being a “perfectly sober 3 or 4 glasses at dinner”), and owned an incredible cellar spanning various countries and many decades. He owned bottles of Lafitte. He even planted vineyards on his property at Monticello. Above all else, he absolutely loved wine, and respected it as a delicious and healthful beverage. As he wrote in a letter, “good wine is a necessity of life for me.” I can’t help but agree with Long Tom.
More recently, Ernest Hemingway is on record as a great lover of wine. He sipped all kinds of drinks all over the world. While he was a famous drinker in general, Hemingway held wine in his heart as “one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world.” While not espoused as the most refined man, he could hold his own in any bar most anywhere in the world. He saw having a drink not just as a pleasure, but as a gateway into the lives and cultures of those he met in his travels. He was most at home in a bar, and gathered inspiration from glass after glass. “If you want to know about a culture, spend a night in its bars.”
These three men are a few examples of a great many who found pleasure, relaxation, and personal connection in a glass of wine. It would appear that wine isn’t reserved for wealthy collectors, world travelers, or studious wine geeks.