“In his essay on Persian poetry Emerson commends the great wino Hafiz in the following words:
Hafiz praises wine, roses, maidens, boys, birds, mornings and music to give vent to his immense hilarity and sympathy with every form of beauty and joy; and lays emphasis on these to mark his scorn of sanctimony and base prudence.
It is against sanctimony and base prudence that much of my argument is directed, not in order to encourage vice, but in order to show that wine is compatible with virtue. The right way to live is by enjoying one’s faculties, striving to like and if possible to love one’s fellows, and also to accept that death is both necessary in itself and a blessed relief to those whom you would otherwise burden. The health fanatics who have poisoned all our natural enjoyments ought, in my view, to be rounded up and locked together in a place where they can bore each other rigid with their futile nostrums for eternal life. The rest of us should live out our days in a chain of linked symposia, in which the catalyst is wine, the means conversation, the goal a serene acceptance of our lot and a determination not to outstay our welcome.
(…) In my view wine is an excellent accompaniment to food; but it is a better accompaniment to thought. And by thinking with wine you can learn not merely to drink in thoughts, but to think in draughts. By swallowing premise, argument and conclusion in one full, satisfying stream, you do not merely understand an idea; you fit it to the life in you. You come to gauge not only its truth and coherence, but its value. Wine is something you live by; so too is an idea. And as far as life is concerned, wine is the test of the idea – the preliminary sampling which foreshadows the long-term mental effect”.