By Rick Riozza

Playing the game of wine gets you everywhere. I always like to start the game with a nice bottle of shut-the-hell-up. In more pleasing terms, let’s first enjoy the glass in front of us—which includes viewing, sniffing, tasting, sensing and memories… it’s a pleasant list certainly with a good glass of wine. But then come the words: And we become the quotable vino lovers. “If your heart is warm with happiness, you’ll need a glass—if sorrow chills your heart, have two!”

Just the other day, the president of a very well-known U.S. company came into Pavilions at Rancho Mirage. As she entered the wine department, I amiably introduced myself as the wine steward and politely queried her as to her wine affections i.e., what kind of wine do you really enjoy? She pointed to the reds, and said, I don’t do whites. For some reason that brought to mind the nervy comment by the famous actress, Bette Davis, who said, “Never, never trust anyone who asks for white wine. It means they’re phonies.” A funny line for sure; we white wine drinkers should always laugh at ourselves.

Everyone’s favorite sobering wine comments probably come from Ben Franklin: “Wine is sure proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy; Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance; and, “When Wine enters, out goes the Truth.” I take that last quote to mean wine is a type of truth serum; otherwise, it could be saying the game of wine is a false pursuit!


A generation of wine drinkers in the U.S. were schooled on the line delivered by actor/director Orson Wells in a commercial for Paul Masson Wines: “We will sell no wine, before its time”. Wells was soon thereafter sacked from the add after admitting to never drinking Paul Masson. Although, if you go on-line to this subject, YouTube has the many “drunken outtakes” of Wells when trying to film the commercial. So he must have been drinking somebody’s wine.

Champagne and women chime in: Dorothy Parker, the American poet, writer, and satirist—a fixture at the Alqonquin Round Table, wrote, “Three things I’ll never attain: envy, content, and sufficient champagne.” Singer Tina Turner said, “Whenever I drink Champagne I either laugh or cry…I get so emotional! I love Champagne.” Brigitte Bardot expressed, “Champagne is the one thing that gives me zest when I am tired” and Madame De Pompadour reminded us once again that, “Champagne is the one wine that leaves a woman beautiful after drinking it.” Coco Chanel simply states: “I drink champagne on two occasions—when I’m in love and when I’m not.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald spoke up for the men when he remarked, “Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right.” When the monk Dom Perignon took his first sip of his new wine “champagne”, he exclaimed, “Venez vite! Je goûte les étoiles! (Come quickly! I’m tasting the stars!”) Napolean Bonaparte decreed: “Champagne! In victory—one deserves it, in defeat—one needs it!” W.C. Fields pretty much sums up the foodie cry when he said, “I cook with wine; sometimes I even add it to the food.” Fields also went on to admit, “it was a woman who lead me to drink—I never got to thank her.

Plenty of wine wisdom to go around—especially after a few glasses. Len Evans, a founding father of the modern Australian wine industry who passed away a few years ago, offered, “You have only so many bottles in your life, never drink a bad one.” Robert Mondavi said, “Making good wine is a skill—fine wine an art.” Theologian Martin Luther said, “Who loves not a woman, wine and song, remains a fool his whole life long.” Louis Pasteur sums up what we vino lovers know: the flavor of wine is like delicate poetry.” Of course Pasteur never had a Lodi Zinfandel—which he may have described as “hard hitting news”.

In the “what planet are you from?” category, British statesman Benjamin Disraeli once stated, “I rather like bad wine; one gets so bored with good wine.” I’m going out on a limb to say he was the hit of the party.

For you young wine lovers who don’t really recognize most of the speakers above, how about this guy Charles Tovey—a wine merchant and writer back in the mid 1800s: “Your stomach is your wine cellar, keep it stocked, small, and cool.” And since we’re going back in time—to Ancient Greece—where cheapskate Diogenes the Cynic (383 B.C.) wrote, “I like best the wine drunk at the cost of others.” Well—give the guy credit for his honesty; no one likes admitting that.

And although ageing rock stars are more known for their whiskey drinking, and whether or not “Jeremiah was really “a bullfrog” or, as some believe the original lyric to be “a prophet ”—doesn’t matter, the “Joy to the World” singer still “couldn’t understand a single word he said, but he sure had some mighty fine wine….and I helped him drink his wine”—Three Dog Night/ Hoyt Axton.

In vino veritas

Rick is your “somm-about-town” entertaining and conducting at wine events and tastings. Contact