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Ciudad Real, 09-11 de Mayo de 2017

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Luis A. de Villena at Fenavin: "As Mediterraneans, we have the cultural duty to confront the Anglo-Saxon prohibition on alcohol"

The well-known writer and poet, Luis A. de Villena, coordinated a round table at Fenavin: 'Wine: Sensuality and Mysticism' with the participation of the poets Ana Rosetti, Clara Janés and Jaime Siles

12.05.2011 | 

"We have the cultural duty to confront the Anglo-Saxon culture, based on hard liquor, but that wants to prohibit alcohol, because wine has far less alcohol and it is a healthy and nutritious drink that I have consumed in moderation since the age of twelve," assured at Fenavin Luis Antonio de Villena, poet, writer and press columnist, at the beginning of the round table "Wine: Sensuality and Mysticism", at which the poets Ana Rosetti, Clara Janés and Jaime Siles all participated.

In the opinion of Luis Antonio de Villena "wine forms a part of our western culture and it has close ties with the Mediterranean, as wine is an essential metaphor of life as pleasure, as the door to pleasure." Therefore, Villena launched a harsh attack against the Anglo-Saxon prohibition to consume alcohol, "as their culture is based on drinking hard liquor, with a high alcohol content, but now they are saying that it is not good for us. However, our wine has much less alcohol and it has formed part of our culture since antiquity, hence we have the cultural duty to insure that we are not subjugated to this prohibition, and, as Mediterraneans that we are, we must defend our culture on wine, wine in moderation, since puberty."

Drinking a little bit of wine since the age of twelve until the age of a hundred

As an example he mentioned his own personal story: "I was given wine to drink with meals as of the age of twelve, and it was healthy, to the point that my grandfather used to drink wine in moderation with his meals, considering it a healthy product, because wine is in fact good for you."

He presented the round table as a point of union between poetry and wine in the Mediterranean and European culture ever since the Greco-Roman civilization, affirming that "the state into which a mystic succumbs is similar to inebriation. Wine is a continuous element of poetry, and wine has always been hailed as a path to pleasure and spirituality, apart from the fact that many educated meetings or encounters, in particular in ancient times, took place in the shape of evening banquets at which wine was certainly enjoyed. It is true though that wine in both Greece and Rome was watered down, although it was still wine. The encounters were celebrated with wine and poetry enhanced them in two different ways: as a path towards pleasure, as delightful ecstasy on the one hand."

"While on the other hand and in the Islamic world, in particular, it was used as a symbol of spirituality, as the mystic would somehow feel differently, inebriated so to say, logically understood in a symbolic way," he commented before reading some beautiful verses by the Arab poet Abu Nawas, from his book "The Wine Song".

Clara Janés: The angels are at the door of the tavern

The Catalan poet Clara Janés spoke to us about angels and poetry, about the Sufi poets, starting with a quote by Hafez Shirazi, in which the Persian poet places the angels at the door of the tavern, and she also spoke of the city of Shiraz, land of wine and roses. She also told us how they refer to wine, "how it inflames the body and helps the spirit." Other poets that appeared during her intervention were Yalal Uddin Rumi, and an anonymous Egyptian who sang the praises of wine and poetry two thousand years before Christ, likewise mentioning Juan de la Cruz and Omar Jayyam, the great singer of wine.

All these poets were saying that "wine helps to awaken the dead" and how wine contributes to love: "En la interior bodega de mi amado bebí" (Inside my lover's cellar I did drink), by our mystics.

Jaime Siles: The vine, the olive tree and wheat, these were our uranium of classical antiquity

Jaime Siles, poet and professor specialized in classical languages, reminded us that in classical antiquity the vine, the olive tree and wheat were all considered treasures, just like uranium is today, as these were the most valuable things of all at the time, then continuing by delving right into the texts of Epicure, Hesiod, Theophrastus, Aristotle, etc., who used to say that "love is as exciting as wine."

From the Odyssey to the Iliad, these classics revealed that "wine is truth because it leads us to ecstasy", or "wine is the delight of the conversation."

Ana Rosseti: What wine, mysticism, and sensuality have in common is that they bring you out of yourself

Ana Rosseti, who was born in Cadiz, is quite clear on the fact that "what wine, mysticism and sensuality have in common is that they bring us out of ourselves, reason why I am not surprised that inebriation was considered to be sacred in some cultures."

Ana Rosseti focused on Christian mysticism and on the beauty of the "Song of Songs" in which we discover "caresses as soft as wine" or "words are the wine that gently flows over lips and teeth."

The Cadiz born poet vindicated "Palo Cortado" wine

She praised Fenavin, and affirmed that "we, the Spanish, should be more interested than we are in the culture of wine, because it forms part of humanity ever since man adopted a sedentary lifestyle and it is part of our history's cultural heritage and it is the alcoholic drink that is mentioned the most in literary texts."

Her preferences in wine are cava or a sparkling wine for breakfast; a cold white wine with the aperitif, lunch and a long after-lunch conversation with red wine and, in between, well an oloroso or even better, a palo cortado, a generous, mahogany colored wine made in Jerez, absolute perfection for a chat with friends.

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