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Most overused wine quotes and memes revealed

It’s always nice to fling a good quotation into an article or conversation and there are plenty to choose from when it comes to wine. Why then does it seem to be that from the cornucopia of wine quotes there are but a tired old handful that seem to be doing the rounds?

No one for example ever uses this from the late Christopher Hitchens’ autobiography Hitch-22: A Memoir:

“Alcohol makes other people less tedious, and food less bland, and can help provide what the Greeks called entheos, or the slight buzz of inspiration when reading or writing. The only worthwhile miracle in the New Testament—the transmutation of water into wine during the wedding at Cana—is a tribute to the persistence of Hellenism in an otherwise austere Judaea. The same applies to the Seder at Passover, which is obviously modelled on the Platonic symposium: questions are asked (especially of the young) while wine is circulated.

“No better form of sodality has ever been devised: at Oxford one was positively expected to take wine during tutorials. The tongue must be untied. It’s not a coincidence that Omar Khayyam, rebuking and ridiculing the stone-faced Iranian mullahs of his time, pointed to the value of the grape as a mockery of their joyless and sterile regime. Visiting today’s Iran, I was delighted to find that citizens made a point of defying the clerical ban on booze, keeping it in their homes for visitors even if they didn’t particularly take to it themselves, and bootlegging it with great brio and ingenuity. These small revolutions affirm the human.”

Granted, it’s not particularly catchy as a wine quote goes but it has its moments. “Alcohol makes other people less tedious,” is particularly pertinent with regards this piece.

If you’d like something pithier though why not something from the aforementioned Khayyam himself?

“A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou.” Much better.

A good quote can convey a point that bolsters an argument or pricks an ego; can be a salient observation in its own right and add pathos or humour to a statement.

Sadly they’re also something of a refuge for the unimaginative which is probably why there’s a fairly limited clutch that seem to appear rather too frequently.

It’s not so much that they are bad quotes, inaccurate or cringe worthy in themselves, so much as they have now been so overused that their appearance is simply clichéd, and an increasingly grinding annoyance.

One doesn’t want to suck all the fun and archness out of wine of course, in fact it’s to be positively encouraged and it’s true these quotes are mostly being used by people who are just very enthusiastic about wine, but on the other hand it’s just too saccharine for true Anglo-Saxon tastes and like all sweet things in high doses they become sickly.

The other problems with their use are manifold and to lay out the case against them in full requires greater space than can be given here or now. Essentially though, at worst, they either reduce wine to the crushingly pedestrian or are wrapped in the pseudo-philosophical, smug, smarmy cloak of one-upmanship that wine is trying really desperately to leave behind it.

Despite what their users imagine them to be, they are no longer clever nor funny, still less original. The advance of social media is also helping the pedlars of these banalities reach ever larger audiences – appreciative or not – and so it is becoming an increasing problem. One can barely scroll down a twitter feed anymore without some supposedly amusing wine-related twaddle cropping up.

To anyone riding any of these and probably a few other quotes and memes to destruction like a knackered old nag, we say this: You are neither a shining wit nor a world-weary barfly. Stop it, right now… please.

Please click through to the next page to see our hit-list…


“Life’s too short to drink bad wine” – anonymous

Or listen to that quote on a continuous loop.


“Wine is bottled poetry” – Robert Louis Stevenson

But it’s unlikely the speaker will back it up with anything more meaningful, so counter their shallow observation with Baudelaire’s exhortation:

“It is time to get drunk!
So as not to be the martyred slaves of Time,
get drunk; ceaselessly drunk!
On wine, on poetry, or on virtue as you wish.”

If you can say it in French then appropriate a bottle for yourself by way of a reward.


“There’s more philosophy in a bottle of wine than in all the books in the world,”– Louis Pasteur

It’s a pity you haven’t read more books to find more original quotes though.

“Hide our ignorance as we will, an evening of wine soon reveals it,” as Heraclitus said.


“I drink to make other people more interesting,” – Ernest Hemingway

Sadly, those that like to bandy this about are usually unaware of the irony. Hemingway ranks as one of the most abused literary greats, with boorish, posturing fools prattling on about how much they’d like to be like him or, still worse, actually emulate him – ignorant of the fact that Hemingway would probably have said that if you can’t be your own man, what’s the point?

“Nobody’s going to get me in any ring with Mr. Tolstoy unless I’m crazy or I keep getting better,” he once said of himself. It’s a pity would-be-Hemingways don’t remind themselves of that more often rather than being blinded by their own conceit.

“I drink Champagne when I’m happy…” – Lily Bollinger

The problem here is the sonorous, ponderous delivery some people adopt when intoning the lines as if it’s one of the most profound statements ever uttered or it’s delivered in a fuzzy, feel-good, give-yourself-a-hug, wishy-washy, life-affirming, sing-song, desperately earnest voice. Then they cock their heads at you, smile knowingly and say something like “isn’t that lovely/true/wonderful?” and expect you to be impressed and nod in agreement.

Yes, it’s a lovely quote and yes we know you can recite it by heart or maybe not – it’s hard to say which is worse. Either way you’ve done it to death now and it’s time you stopped.

Counter them with something like this:

“She’s no mistress of mine
That drinks not her wine,
Or frowns at my friends’ drinking motions;
If my heart thou wouldst gain,
Drink thy bottle of Champagne.
‘Twill serve thee for paint and love potions.”

Sir George Etherege, She Would if she Could, 1667


The “wine meme” – endless

“Wine a little, it’ll make you feel better.”
“You had me at ‘wine’.”
“Save water, drink wine.”

The list goes on and, admittedly, some are both true and rather amusing, like this one which neatly summarises what this piece is all about:

Take that on board. But sadly many (one might argue the majority) are like these:

You can see the thinking here. “Blah, blah, blah, something, something, something, wine. That’ll get me a retweet.”

There’s no substance to them, no imagination or true creative thought. They’re just rubbish; inanity posing as wit and, as the purveyors of this kind of tat aren’t especially discerning, they’re all used far too much. Employ them if you must but remember, he would pun would pick a pocket – choose wisely.

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