Creative writing? Reach for a glass of wine…
Oh, I know, it’s only a beverage, but where would writers be without wine? What other drinkable or edible comestible can boast such a rich store of literary references? The metaphors and similes, analogies and allegories that spring from wine’s lexicon are as countless as vines in a vineyard (see, there goes another one!). Well, okay, bread (albeit unleavened) rose to metaphorical and liturgical heights in the Old and New Testaments, I’ll give you that; and, yes, old ale came to a frothy head in Chaucer’s day (there weren’t so many branches of Oddbins back then). Mothers’ milk seems to flow through every language; and let’s not forget water (her eyes were like limpid pools…)
In As You Like It, Phebe wouldn’t “eat her words” (put into her mouth by The Bard for whom so much was “meat and drink” and whose soul did “hang there like fruit” so that he would “rather pray a month with mutton and porridge”…) Okay, so there are lots of foody allusions in literature; but among all the drinkables, only one gushes forth across millennia of writing, from hieroglyphics on sarcophagi to journalistic gibberish on twitter: wine.
Today, wine in literature is – like many a spritely Beaujolais – still fresh and lively. Whether it’s Ian McEwan slipping a bottle of Mas de Daumas Gassac into his protagonists’ picnic basket in the opening scene of Enduring Love (not my cup of tea – the wine, that is – but there’s no accounting for taste) or Oz Clarke waxing lyrical about streams of Syrah coursing over hot limestone pebbles and suchlike, winey talk is everywhere.
So, the next time you’re tempted to compare a character’s mood to a darkening sky, or evoke a malevolent intent by invoking a ravening wolf, or find yourself being backed into a cul de sac of tired clichés, why not try a wine reference or two? Pour a drop of turbid Tuscan truculence onto the page, slake a yearning thirst with a glass of priceless Pétrus, taste the sting of deceit in the dregs of a DRC. Be as furtive as a Frascati, as majestic as a Margaux, as bold as a Barossa, as mild as a Moselle or as sweet as a Sauternes. Fight with the ferocity of a Fitou; wheedle and connive with the cunning of a Condrieu; drive with the determination of a Dolcetto (but never under its influence, of course…).
And don’t be afraid to alliterate!
Happy sipping, slurping and scribbling.