History’s Great Orators Speak Out on Wine

MLK MemorialToday we pay tribute to the leader of the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose voice was quieted by an assassin’s bullet not quite 49 years ago.

Dr. King was known for oratory skills, and no list of history’s great speech-makers is complete without his name — a name that tops many of those lists.

On January 2, 1966 at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Dr. King titled his sermon, “New Wine in Old Bottles,” and quoted from the Bible:

“Neither do men put new wine into old bottles… else the bottles break and the wine runeth out, and the bottles perish. But they put new wine in new bottles, and both are preserved.”

You can view a typewritten version of the speech at The King Center, and if you ever heard Dr. King speak, you will almost hear his voice and unique cadence through those printed words.

The Bible is packed with references to wine, so it’s likely this wasn’t the only speech in which Dr. King mentioned our favorite beverage.

As it turns out, other great orators have had a “connection” with wine in one way or another…


America’s 16th President wasn’t much of a drinker himself, but he and a business partner, William F. Berry, obtained a tavern license in Salem, Ill., that allowed them to sell “a half-pint of wine or French brandy for 25 cents.”


Although a very rich man, Kennedy was said to have simple tastes in food, with creamy New England clam chowder and hot fudge sundaes ranking at the top of his guilty-pleasure list. But wine was a different matter altogether. At one state dinner during his brief Presidency, Kennedy served Chateau Haut-Brion Blanc, which then cost $1,000 per bottle.


A book called “Drinking With the Republicans” was released this year, packed with information on what some of America’s most powerful people like(d) to sip.

The book points out that according to one of his trusted advisors, Michael Deaver, President Reagan “could not resist a good French wine.”

Perhaps a wine like the 2015 Laurent de L’Olibet Cabernet Sauvignon, a delicious red from southern France that’s brimming with cherry and berry flavors, and kissed with licorice and cedar notes.

Of course, we have no way of knowing with certainty what types of wine history’s great orators would drink. What we do know is that they all were aware of wine and, in some cases, sought out very good wine to drink.

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