Sunday, November 2, 2008
Belloc on Wine
Last year, when I was at home, while searching the bookstores around Charing Cross Road, I found a wonderful collection of Belloc essays I had not seen before. It's called "One Thing and Another, A Miscellany from His Uncollected Essays," chosen by Patrick Cahill. My copy is a First Edition, published in 1955. It was rather expensive - the equivalent of $50 - but well worth it. Most of the essays were being printed for the first time. My favourite Belloc essay of all time is, of course, 'A Remaining Christmas,' but this collection has a couple that come close. 'Autumn in England' is magnificent, but my favourite in this collection is: 'Advice to a Young Man in the Matter of Wine.' Suitable for reading out loud, as I did recently when some friends came to dinner, Belloc writes of three main rules "the observance of which are of life-long value in the use of wine. The first, the most essential canon, is that wine of every sort, so long as it is pure, must be taken seriously as a chief element in life. It is the concomitant, and perhaps the foundation, of all our culture." If you didn't like Belloc before, why wouldn't you love him after than sentence? Here's the best paragraph in the whole essay:
"For your plain man one bottle of red wine at a meal is a just measure. Indeed, it is thus that the bottle came to be what it is, holding one meal's provision, about one-sixth of a gallon. It is enough - but not too much. It is the very symbol of temperance."