Wine, Words & Wednesday, No. 55

In vino veritas.

In wine there is truth.

Among the most famous wine words of all time, they are frequently quoted, and often commercialized.  Visit almost any winery tchochke shop, and you’ll find some version of that quote for sale — on a wine barrel stave, a t-shirt, wall art, etc.

In vino veritas is a Latin phrase, with roots in several ancient cultures.  The Babylonian Talmud contains a phrase that translates to, “Wine enters, secrets exit.”  Oooh, I like that.  There’s a version of the phrase in an ancient Greek poem by Alcaeus.  Pliny the Elder makes a similar observation in his extremely long, Naturalis history.  It also appears in Erasmus’ Adagia.  My point?  Pretty much everyone since the dawn of fermenting grapes has noticed that drinking wine produces a certain . . . candor.

One of my favorite versions is often attributed to Plato:

children

Right?!?  If you ever want brutal honesty (does this dress make me look fat?), ask a preschooler or a drunk guy.  You’ll get loads of truth.

The Internet attributes the quote to Plato’s Symposium,  c. 385–370 BC.  (A symposium was a big drinking party where guys sat around, drank wine, and discussed big ideas).  This particular symposium is Plato’s speech about love, and it’s supposed to be the origin of the concept of Platonic love.  I combed through two or three different translations of Symposium on Project Guttenburg (it’s not so much a page-turner, let me tell you), but couldn’t find that exact quote.  The closest I could find is:

There’s truth in wine when the slaves have left, and when they’re present, too.
There’s truth in wine whether with boys or without.

Um???  I’m sure the reason these quotes make approximately zero sense is that I’ve taken them out of context. 😉

To whomever took liberties with the original(s) . . . thank you!

Salud!

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