Wine, Words & Wednesday, No. 101

Today’s words come to us from American journalist, critic and satirist, HL Mencken.

Mencken is known for his satirical coverage of the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial.  If you need a memory prod, this was the case where a substitute high school teacher in Tennessee, John Scopes, was accused teaching human evolution, in violation of Tennessee law.  Mencken wrote a series of scathing, pro-evolution columns for The Baltimore Sun, and dubbed the affair, The Monkey Trial.

Writing (and railing) against the backdrop of Prohibition (1920-33), Mencken lauded alcohol as the greatest of all the Devil’s inventions.  Mencken enjoyed a good drink, and he wasn’t terribly picky about what kind of drink.  Today’s words appeared in the publication, Smart Set, in February of 1920.  And they just made me laugh.

And, they’re a vocabulary builder.


Here’s the full quote:

As for me, I am prepared to admit some merit in every alcoholic beverage ever devised by the incomparable brain of man, and drink them all when the occasions are suitable — wine with meat, the hard liquors when my so-called soul languishes, and beer to let me down gently of an evening.  In other words, I am omnibibulous, or, more simply, ombibulous.

As for wine, Mencken called it, the most delightful of all juices.  In his article, How to Drink Like a Gentlemen, published in Liberty Magazine in 1935, Mencken dispensed this advice about conventional wine and food pairings:

If you happen to snare a good bottle of red Burgundy, and the cook provides roast chicken for dinner, do not hesitate to use the wine to dilute and adorn the fowl. Nothing will befall you — save only that you will rise from the table a wiser and a happier man. And the next time you see a whisky bottle on a dinner table you will seize it by the neck and beat in the skull of your host.

Maybe skip that last recommendation.


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