Another nugget from the master. The italics are mine, meant to emphasize the sacramental mindset that is John Zmirak’s. His sacramental landscape, along with erudition and fine prose, makes him required reading for any drinker who thinks a little alcohol can bring a lot of God:
[T]he guardians of the Hospice [de Beaune] produce some of the finest wine in the world–which once a year, on the third Sunday of November, is auctioned off to fund the care of the sick and poor year-round. This custom has continued for more than 500 years . . . and today is one of the most festive events in the wine world. The city fills up with connoisseurs (and their checkbooks), who huddle together under the ancient eaves of what looks like a guild hall, and the auction is timed by the burning of three candles. When the last one gutters out, everyone has to leave. The medieval hospital still stands as an architectural jewel–though the sick are now cared for in a more high-tech, if less picturesque facility. Few sites on earth so perfectly combine in one place everything that is delightful about old Christendom: love for God in the form of the poor is yoked to enjoyment of the beauties of His creation, and the cultivation of one of mankind’s highest arts.