From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY
Oct 15th, 1864
Wine Versus Temperance
Physicians often recommend poisons for the cure of certain diseases. It is probably on the same principle that wine is said to be an antidote for intemperance. As fatal disorders in the physical system require harsh methods for relief, so, we are told, the great panacea for this malady of the social body is pure juice of the grape!
There are those who urge that a plentiful supply of unadulterated grape wine would have a tendency to throw out of use the poor whisky with which the market is flooded. This may be so, but it seems to us that the temperance cause will not be very materially advanced by the change. We cannot see why a man who drink to excess would not be just as wiling to get drunk upon pure sweet wine, as upon the poisonous product of the still, provided he could get one as easily and cheaply as the other. We cannot but think that those who recommend the extensive manufacture of wine are advocating an experiment that is fraught with the greatest danger.
Just at this time, when the temperance reform is again attracting attention, and the pledge of total abstinence being circulated, it seems somewhat startling to hear prominent members of horticultural societies say that they cannot recommend any grape for general cultivation unless it will make a good wine.
Fermented grape juice is admitted to be alcoholic, if alcoholic then it is intoxicating, and if it is intoxicating and becomes plenty and cheap, then it is dangerous. No true friend of the temperance movement can refure to take the pledge of total abstinence. If he does that, he excludes from the list of his indulgences, wine. The whole fraternity, then, of temperance men is committed against this beverage. This being the case it seems a strange anomaly that persons of influence and distinction, persist in advocating the extensive manufacture of wine, and urge as their strongest plea that it will be a death-blow to intemperance! They tell us that among the vine-clad hills of Italy, and upon the vineyard-skirted banks of the Rhine, where wine is almost as free and plenty as water, intemperance is nearly unknown. This may be true and yet not destroy our position. American character and society are essentially different from either Italian, German or French. What is a blessing there, might prove to be a curse to us.
The ancient wise man, when he said “strong drink is raging,” did not refer to whisky or beer. They are products of a later age than his. Distilleries were not among the institutions of the ancient Jews. His words of condemnation were uttered against wine, sparkling, innocent wine! Let us have grapes, simple and fresh, and be satisfied with them. Let them be as plenty and cheap as we can make them. Let the people eat and be contented. Grapes are healthy, “Wine is a mocker.” W.S.F. Verona, Oneida Co., N.Y., 1864