Monday, August 31, 2009

Wine and civilization: more reasons to drink wine

87. Ernest Hemingway wrote that "wine is one of the most civilized things in the world." I say that not only is that true, but wine may have made civilization as we know it possible. When hunter-gatherer societies first congregated into villages and cities, the notion of septic systems hadn't been worked out so water supplies became of questionable safety. The practice of adding wine to water made it safer to drink, as Louis Pasteur observed a few thousand years later.
88. Wine became further entrenched in civilization during the golden age of Greece. Plato, who articulated so many of the tenets on which modern societies are organized, brought great thinkers together in what were called "symposia" which derives from the words "to drink together." Many of our most cherished institutions were conceived during these drinking sessions.
89. The notion of moderation is also an ancient one. The Roman orator Pliny the Elder noted "Nothing is more useful than wine for strengthening the body, and also more detrimental to our pleasure if moderation is lacking." Wine was firmly entrenched in Roman society, and in fact the expansion of the Roman Empire was possible because of the fact that the Romans has worked out the necessity of wine added to water to ensure potability.

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