You are here:   Don Quixote > Quixotic Connoisseurs
 

 

In Don Quixote, Sancho Panza is travelling with the "charitable squire of the wood", and begins to feel thirsty. Noticing his unease, the squire reassures him: "Methinks we have talked till our tongues cleave to the roofs of our mouths; but I have got something that will agreeably moisten them, at my saddle bow." He then produces a large leather bottle of wine, and a pie containing a whole rabbit.

Sancho needs no encouragement. He crams huge portions of the pie into his mouth, and then rounds off his meal by lifting the bottle to his lips, and "gazing at the stars a whole quarter of an hour" — Cervantes's pleasantly hyperbolical way of saying that he took a long swallow.  

But then Sancho, unexpectedly, does something rather refined — he unerringly identifies where the wine comes from: "But tell me, Signior, by the life of what you best love, is not this wine from Cividad Real?"  The squire is suitably impressed: "You have an excellent taste . . . it comes from no other part, I'll assure you; and has, moreover, some good years over its head." This is Sancho's cue for some wonderful bragging: "You'll never catch me tripping in the knowledge of wine, let it be never so difficult to distinguish. Is it not an extraordinary thing, Signior Squire, that I should have such a sure and natural instinct in the knowledge of wine, that give me but a smell of any sort whatever, and I will tell you exactly its country, growth, and age, together with the changes it will undergo, and all other circumstances appertaining to the mystery."

He then goes on to explain why he is so unerring. Is his sure and natural instinct the result of his unflagging commitment to drink? On the contrary — it was in his genes: "By my father's side, I had the two most excellent tasters that La Mancha hath known for these many years; as a proof of which, I will tell you what once happened to them. A sample of wine was presented to them out of a hogshead, and their opinions asked concerning the condition and quality; . . . one of them tasted it with the tip of his tongue, the other did no more than clap it to his nose; the first said the wine tasted of iron, the other affirmed it had a twang of goat's leather; the owner protested that the pipe was clean, and the contents without any sort of mixture that could give the liquor either the taste of iron, or the smell of goat's leather: nevertheless, the two famous tasters stuck to the judgment they had given; time passed on, the wine was sold, and when the pipe came to be cleaned, they found in it a small key, tied to a leathern thong. By this your worship may perceive, whether or not one who is descended from such a race, may venture to give his opinion in cases of this nature."

View Full Article
 
Share/Save
 
 
 
 

Post your comment

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.