Between a chalice and a sheet of paper
“Bronze is the mirror of essence, wine is that of the mind,” said Aeschylus in the 5th century B.C. and thereafter, as well as well before to be sincere, wine has had a place in the world history of literature.
Here begins the magic, divided into five parts and dedicated to wine in literature. And it could not be better put than “wine as the mirror to the mind”.
It is no easy task to speak about wine’s role in literary history of mankind; it’s like isolating a drop of water from the ocean and making it distinct from everything else. But we’ll try.
Man’s journey will be looked at through a wine glass. We will strive to understand what the nectar of the gods was like, how it was a muse for inspiration as well as simply ink’s companion to the most beautiful verses our humanity has been able to express.
How do we take on this enormous task?
We’ll ride together through the centuries, cultures, customs and peoples. Above all we will explore the peoples who for centuries, actually millennia, have been intertwined with the culture of wine and its symbolism.
It’s best to confront this “wine trip” into the history of wine selections and chalices by drinking in together the best tastes and their most famous drinkers.
We’ll start off with the “divine wine” and we’ll discover how wine and its ingredients were fundamental for creating metaphors or paradigms linked to religion in a broad sense of the term. We will also discover that wine was not only important in contemporary monotheistic religions, such as Christianity, Judaism and Islam, but also in the lost and forgotten ones like those of the Norsemen, the Scandinavian Vikings, and the religions of ancient Greece, Rome, or Phoenicia, as well as that of Confucianism and Buddhism, etc.
Once we’ve disturbed the divine, we’ll confront the ancient world of cornucopia and triclinium, from two handled cups, from overflowing horns and watered-down wine.
From sip to sip and verse to verse we’ll walk through the centuries of the most illustrious names of Western history, from “Dolce Stil Novo” poets to those who have come to be universally considered as all-around geniuses, such as Leonardo da Vinci.
At the end of the trip, of course, we won’t be able to quote Catullus or Dante or possess the self-confidence of Aristophanes or of Cecco Angiolieri, and I hope we won’t be drunk like Noè or Cecco Angiolieri, but we’ll certainly be able to raise a glass of good wine and toast them all! (To Health!)