In Vino veritas is one of the most famous phrase since thousand years. It was used by the Latin to say that when we drink too much we say things that we would never say.
And so the great Arc at last came to rest on Mount Ararat, and Noah and his vast family came out, followed by “all the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground”. For Noah had saved all Creation and was named ‘Soter’ the saviour. He had saved all that moved, but not the grasses, nor the trees nor any other plants, and so it was that the farmer “Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard”.
The exuberant force of wine transcends all religious confines. As the Book of Genesis shows us with the sudden appearance of Melchisedech, King of Salem. Here was a King not descended from Abraham, hence no son of Israel, who nevertheless “offered bread and wine and blessed” Abraham in the name of God the Creator. In the Christian exegesis the priest-king’s offer of bread and wine pre-figures the Eucharist. Vines, grapes and wine were also used symbolically by Jesus. The vine and its fruits were removed from time to become eternal. Harvest would no longer have just one short season, its fruits would be eternal. Christ himself became the vine, his apostles his trellis. In that he himself was the wine-making vine, the wine his blood, while his disciples drinking wine together with him on earth were at one with him, as he with them, only to later drink wine together with the Lord in the realm of Heaven.
Mediterranean vineyards have greatly influenced vineyards and wine production throughout the rest of Europe: traditionally acting as custodian to a sense of history, keeping alive the universality of both myth and tradition, where tangible symbols are made manifest via the ancient vineyards and places able to bring these back to life. The history of vineyards and winemaking is inextricably linked with the customs of all those who drink wine, rituals more closely linked to the mind than to drinking; cultivating a vineyard, and techniques for wine growing reflect, on the other hand, a system of world representations that are deeply linked to the most elaborate thought processes and to our unconscious bond to myths and religion.
Water be gone, away with you, corrupter of wine, off with you to more serious folk:
for here is the fire of Bacchus. Gaio Valerio Catullo (I secolo a.C.)
It is I who keeps on my lips the taste of grapes. Bruised grapes. Vermillion bites. Pablo Neruda (1904–1973)
On the table I love, as we talk, the light of a bottle of intelligent wine. Pablo Neruda (1904–1973)
In the country after a long day working, the men would lift their glasses up to their faces, checking them over, holding them up to the light, before taking a cautious sip. The hundred-year old trees followed in their fate century after century and with a slowness that came close to eternity.Pierre Sansot (1928–2005)
I love those dark corners of sleepy wine bars where people peak in an excess of in song, I love the swearing, and reading the glasses all filled to the brim with wine, where the mind exults every thought to a magical level.Alda Merini (1931–2009)
But it is true that if we look at a glass of wine closely enough we see the entire universe. There are the things of physics: the twisting liquid which evaporates depending on the wind and weather, the reflection in the glass; and our imagination adds atoms. Richard Feynman (1918–1988)
For thy Love is better than wine. Song of Songs
… he pulled the wine bottle off the table with his withered right hand, grabbing a glass and with his left and, after first noisily crashing the two together, raised
the bottle, tilting it to fill up his glass, then putting it to his lips to take a swig, next he picked up the glass again, glugging down the wine another two or three times before crying out: “Ah! that’d to wake the dead!”.Alessandro Manzoni (1785–1873)
“Both by Nature and in the monuments of Italy and Greece no other god is more present than Dionysus in that in the traditions of the Classics are still alive. So that it is possible to talk of a Dionysian element which is highly omnipresent” K. Kerényi (1992)
“… in ancient times the name was famous, he was said to have found wine, teaching all mortals its use, so did they adore him invoking his name not only as Bacchus and Dionysus, but also ‘liberating father’ (to express) with the effects of wine on us… Liberating father in that by drinking freely man may rid himself of troublesome thoughts that he may speak more freely than when sober. For here is a god, as Plutarch tells us, who fights greatly for freedom, reminding us that he is in essence a warrior”. V. Cartari (1571)
“Dionysus is the god of wine and god of parties, god of intoxication and oblivion, god of fertility and of inspiration; but he is also a god to be feared, a vengeful god, always imagined as an ‘other’. He is foreign … in that he always arouses fear and terror … his persona binding both the visible present with a more hidden elsewhere” Schiesaro, 2008. Meaning that from Euripides to Otto he is “a god as terrible yet as mild to men” (Baccanti, 854-856, 861), “a complementary combination of opposites … a god who arrives … crazed creativity, laying the foundations for the world’s irrationality” W. Otto (1933–1965)
Bacchus invented wreaths of ivy to wear on his head for his triumphant return after conquering India, this was later copied by Alexander the Great and his army upon their victorious return from Macedonia. The choice of this ‘cold’ plant able to dampen such intoxicated jubilation has many explanations, from its evergreen colour, its shape and even the fact that it grows in the winter. Here is a binding plant that grips onto all it climbs, just as “wine binds human minds” holding within it a “certain virtue and hidden strength” which “nearly always fills all with frenzy”.
V. Car tari (1571)
“The ‘contrary’ ivy blooms in autumn, whilst for the vines this is a time of harvest, and ivy bears its fruit in Spring. Ivy is a winter ornament. While Dionysian vines need light, heat and sun, Dionysian ivy needs very little light or heat, and brings forth its verdant bloom even in from the chilly shadows … W. Otto (1933)
The Baccae, Bacchantes, or Maenads, are the female followers of Bacchus, together with Silenus, his tutor, the Sileni and the Satyrs. His train of followers wave their bare hands in the air shrieking as they go, much like those treading grapes for wine. With cymbals and bells they make a real din, what Italians call a real ‘baccano’. Filled with his spirit they reach enthusiasmos gradually progressing to a state of total extasis. Bacchus moved forth to conquer India on a chariot equipped with both wheels and shells, so that he might more easily navigate its rivers and seas.
This was his Carrum Navale, adorned with vines and ivy, a chariot which later became famous in every future depiction of triumph, showing his followers in joyful celebration, fit for any victory parade. It is from this festive float that the word carnevale takes its origins. Bacchus is the “brave captain” a conqueror in the name of freedom. Here is a god who ‘subjugated the whole of India, from whence he returned … atop an elephant… leading triumph in his wake, with Satyrs, men with the ears and hooves of goats, who came down from the mountains of that land, finding their wine helped them to yield to their baser frenzied instincts, followers of their king, Pan, god of All, dreaded creature of terror, whose mere appearance resulted in “panico” for all who set eyes upon him. On his Carrum Navale Bacchus landed at the island of Naxos. It was here that he found Ariadne, daughter of Minos, who had been abandoned there by her faithless love Theseus after he had led her away from Crete. Bacchus took her as his bride, tossing away the crown that Theseus set on her head, this was lifted into the heavens where it turned into the Corona Borealis constellation, named after her crown.