Michael Fontaine Ph.D.

Ancient Insights

Yes, You Can Totally Enjoy Drinking at Home

In a time of social distancing, some ancient wisdom on staying home to drink.

Posted Mar 22, 2020

Well, here we are. A couple of weeks ago, many of us had never heard of the coronavirus.

We’re all experts now, or getting there fast.

And, you may have heard, bars and pubs are closed all around the world. Las Vegas, Bourbon Street, New York City, and on and on. Even St. Patrick's Day was canceled.

If you were hoping to get drinks anytime soon, it sounds miserable. But maybe it’s not.

As it happens, a wine enthusiast in Germany 500 years ago wrote a treatise called The Art of Drinking.

The author, Vincent Obsopoeus, offers to teach us his total system—his special tricks, hacks, and algorithms — for enjoying the fruit of the vine sustainably and with discrimination. The book is all but forgotten, and I'll have much more to say about it soon.

Meanwhile, a few words from the start couldn't be timelier:

To begin with, there are three ways we drink:

  1. At home by ourselves, or
  2. Going out someplace we meet friends to have drinks with, or
  3. At social functions, in celebratory fashion and among like-minded people.

Hands down, he says, drinking at home is best. Why?

If you want to drink wine right, have fun, and enjoy life, then no matter who you are, live it up at home. Your home, as they say, is comfortable; it’s the best. Nowhere beats the freedom and advantages of staying home.

What’s so special about staying home?

The first advantage, he says, is spending time with your significant other. Chances are she or he likes having a drink with you, too! And even better:

What drinking buddies could you prefer to a faithful wife? What bros can you imagine skipping out on her for? A wife’s more trustworthy than friends, more faithful than a brother, and a beautiful bride even beats your mom for loyalty.

But there are other advantages, too:

You can express total happiness, laugh without embarrassment, and say anything and everything that comes to mind. By drinking at home like this, you’ll avoid a bunch of irritations you have to put up with when you go out drinking:

  • Snitting behind your back
  • Obnoxious quips
  • Jokes at your expense
  • Obnoxious teasing by some smartass
  • Smirks, sarcasm, and chuckling from some jerk
  • Endless banter from some buffoon

And that’s not to mention the mouthing off and embarrassing brawls that are always breaking out over some stupid little thing!

Even 500 years later, you have to admit it’s a good point.


Fontaine, Michael. 2020. How to Drink: a classical guide to the art of imbibing. Princeton: Princeton University Press.