“The best wine is the oldest, the best water the newest.’ Water is experience, immediate sensation, and wine is emotion, and it is with the intellect, as distinguished from imagination, that we enlarge the bounds of experience and separate it from all but itself, from illusion, from memory, and create among other things science and good journalism. Emotion, on the other hand, grows intoxicating and delightful after it has been enriched with the memory of old emotions, with all the uncounted flavours of old experience, and it is necessarily an antiquity of thought, emotions that have been deepened by the experiences of many men of genius, that distinguishes the cultivated man.” – W.B. Yeats
“In vino veritas, in aqua sanitas” (In wine there is truth, in water health)
Water is best when it’s moving. There’s a reason we seek out ocean swells and waterfalls. It taps into out desire for constant change, for movement and action. Stagnant water is usually associated with contamination and sickness. Moving water is associated with vibrancy and health. We seek the fresh and new in our lives for it is life itself.
Wine is no good at the moment it’s poured into the cask. It must age and mature, and rise to meet its potential depth of flavor. The French call this process élevage, the progression of wine between fermentation and bottling. The term élevage also means procreation. It’s clear the French saw the connection between aging wine and human life.
Water as experience, wine as emotion. A great life is a proper mix of experience and emotion, new and old. With that in mind, shouldn’t we seek out new experiences? Shouldn’t we mine our deepest thoughts and emotions and create something from it? We need both in our lives, don’t we? Experience to encounter the world, to wrestle with it in real time and find our place in it. Emotion to reflect on what we’ve seen and grow, and ultimately realize our potential through maturity and insight.
Turning to the Latin phrase, we see that there’s a balance between the two. To be healthy (sanus) we must refresh our bodies with nutrition and hydration and action. To be wise (sapiens), we must learn from this experience, meditate on it and grow. Balancing the two is the key to a vibrant, fulfilling life.