In Vino Veritas

In vino veritas—in wine there is truth.

Is it true? Do inebriated people tell the truth? It’s a cliché in literature that tipsy, drunk, drugged or otherwise inebriated characters reveal secrets, telling the truth when dissembling is the norm.

In mystery fiction, the lapse of judgment that leads one character to drop a “truth bomb” into a story might get the character killed or help the detective solve the crime with a critical piece of information. But I’ve often wondered if wine really “loosens” otherwise reticent tongues.

Do you say more than you should when you’ve had a few? Maybe I get a little loquacious, but am I truly less discreet? I don’t think so, but… I can see where some characters might drop their guard and “spill the beans.” A storyteller could use this habit to drop some clues in the right ears. But I can also see how characters might brag or even make up a story when they are feeling the influence of wine.

Perhaps it’s not TRUTH that is found in some glasses of wine, but compelling stories? The character might wax poetic about a subject they should avoid, or worse, make up a story to entertain the other patrons at the bar or the attractive stranger at a party. A character could make up a story during a lull in a conversation?

This is something worth rolling around in my head.

A few months ago, I found myself in a peculiar setting, seated at a supper club with three strangers, making conversation before the music started. We were not complete strangers—as we had all been invited to the event by the same host—but we had never met before and had little in common. To say the least, it was awkward and you can kill only so much time talking about the place, the menu, the host, and the night’s performer.

Inevitably, the conversation went to the usual questions: How are you connected to our host? Where do you live? What do you do? Boring stuff at best, when you’re seated with the host’s yoga teacher, the singer’s aunt, and someone’s neighbor. When I said I was a writer, I was met with the usual, “Have you written anything I’ve read?” question. I HATE that question. I made a pivotal decision and answered with an enigmatic, “Since I ghostwrite, maybe?” They started to buzz with questions about famous people and memoirs, but I demurred and ordered a second glass of prosecco. Did I make up stories for their amusement? Not then and there, but I turned that moment of in vino fiction, into a short story!

In vino veritas—and in cocktails, too.


  1. I’m quite talkative and forthcoming when it comes to people in general asking me questions, but get a few drinks in me, and I will say all sorts of stuff–stuff I wasn’t even aware I was thinking about. It just pops out of my mouth and there ya go… awkward! Thankfully I don’t do this very often 😉

    • Candy Korman

      You would make a wonderful character in a story!

      Awkward, embarrassing, outrageous, or just silly… a great character!

  2. Not sure about the ‘truth’, but too much alcohol definitely breaks down my inhibitions. Fine if I’m happy, not so fine if I’m angry. Had a ‘debate’ at a party once, with a minister of religion. He was being obnoxious. I was drunk. He received some ‘home truths’ he wasn’t expecting from the nice little atheist lady. 🙁

    • Candy Korman

      I did something similar at a family holiday party a long while back. Having warned my progressive/leftist friends from Germany and Argentina NOT to have an argument with the conservative right wing lawyer husband of a family friend, I wound up taking him on. In my defense, I thought I’d picked a topic we could all agree on——that torture was never justified——and I’d had a great deal of wine. It turned out that my truth was not his and I learned (not for the first time) that it never pays to argue with an attorney. LOL…

      I’m sure the minister deserved a few home truths! I guess wine loosens the inhibitions about the true and, in some people, it loosens the inclination to verbalize fictions. If you had been in the second category, you might have made up your own religion to compete with his. Oh, my… I think I have a story idea!