Oeno-File, the Wine & Gastronomy Column

by Frank Ward

Welcome to Oeno-File

The Wine & Gastronomy Column on the Internet


Wine and food are absorbing subjects in their own right ; fused together they are worthy of a lifetime’s study. They transform the quality of our lives, mentally and emotionally. They also bring us closer together.

One of the greatest wine-lovers in history (he put his palate where his mouth is), was Omar Khayyam, an astronomer and mathematician as well as poet. Living in the 11th-century Persia, when Islamic law was enforced with rigour, he anyway devoted his life to singing wine’s praises : « Drink wine, this is life eternal», he wrote. « Make wine your intimate ». He jokingly suggested that the vinous aromas arising from his grave would one day make a passing toper drunk. Like many wine-drinkers he lived to a ripe old age (83).

Wine has played a key role in our culture for millennia. The Bible contains numerous references, and scenes of libation appear on many antique Greek vases (the kind we don’t want to have broken). That resonant Greek word symposium means « the act of drinking [wine] together ». The intricate bronze vessels and beakers for wine service from China’s Shang-Yin and Chou dynasties are among that country’s noblest artefacts.

« Wine is surrounded by a rich symbolism comparable to that of bread, » wrote Michel Montignac, whose « The Miracle of Wine » should be a compulsory reading.


But nobody brought home the importance of good eating and drinking better than Brillat-Savarin, the Plato of gastronomic thought : “The pleasures of the table are of all times and all ages, of every country and of every day ; they go hand in hand with all our other pleasures, outlast them, and in the end console us for their loss”.

This column is neither structured nor systematic. In writing it, I will, literally and metaphorically, follow my nose, the most salient of organs in this context. There are two fixed points. A passion for excellence. And the use of a wine-tasting technique, developed by me over nearly four decades. It makes use of all five senses, combined with intuition (which can outrank them all). It has always helped me home in on the veritas always to be found in good wines, whatever their origin or price level. I hope you’ll join me on this voyage of discovery.

Frank Ward