Shakespeare on the Benefits of Wine

The aphrodisiac and otherwise good effects of wine“A good sherris-sack hath a two fold operation in it. It ascends me into the brain; dries me there all the crude, dull and foolish vapours which environ it: makes it apprehensive, quick, forgetive, full of quick, nimble, fiery and delectable shapes; which deliver’d over to the voice (the tongue) which is the birth, becomes excellent wit.
(King Henry IV part 2, act 2, sc. 3)

Comments. Substitute ‘wine’ for ‘sherris-sack’ when delivering a speech after a good dinner, during which a particularly good wine has been served – or in answer to, “Do you like wine?”
Notwithstanding the potential negative side effects of drinking (of which we will deal in a future Shakespearean blog), there is general consensus that wine is, on the whole, an ally to romance. Ovid says, “Often has bright-hued Love with soft arms drawn to him and held down the horns of Bacchus (i.e. wine divinity) as he there reclined. Wine gives courage and makes men apt for passion; care flees and is drowned in much wine. Then laughter comes, then even the timid find audacity, then sorrow and care and the wrinkles of the brow depart.’ At such time often have women bewitched the minds of men, and Venus in the wine has been fire in fire.’ (Art Of Love, book 1)
And on the same subject, ‘As real drunkenness does harm, so will feigned bring profit: make your crafty tongue stumble into stammering talk, so that, whatever you do or say more freely than you should may be put down to too much wine.’ (Art Of Love, book 1)
Tobias Venner (1577-1660), in his book ‘The right way to live long’ concurs with the advise to stay away from water, ‘Water doth very greatly deject the appetite, destroy the natural heat, and overthrow the strength of the stomach.’
German wines are somewhat the exception. For Mark Twain (1835-1910) ‘‘The Germans are exceedingly fond of Rhine wines; they are put in tall, slender bottles, and are considered a pleasant beverage. One tells them from vinegar from the label”.
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In the play. Falstaff, redoubtable companion of the young Prince of Wales (the future Henry V) extols the benefits and the effects that a good drink.

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