Wine is a necessary of life...(Quotation)

From Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia

Thomas Jefferson named many things a "necessary of life" (including hair powder, salad oil, salt and books), but wine was certainly one of the most famous. The actual quotation, in its original context, is as follows:

"For the present I confine myself to the physical want of some good Montepulciano; and your friendship has heretofore supplied me with that which was so good that I naturally address my want to you. In your letter of May 1.05. you mention that what you then sent me was produced on grounds formerly belonging to the orders of Jesuits and sold for the benefit of the government in 1773. at the time that that institution was abolished. I hope it has preserved it’s reputation, & the quality of it’s wines. I send this letter to my friend John Vaughan of Philadelphia and inclose with it to him 50.D. to be remitted to you and I pray you to send me it’s amount in Montepulciano, in black bottles, well corked & cemented, and in strong boxes, addressed to the Collector of any port from Boston to the Chesapeak, to which the first opportunity occurs: Norfolk & Richmond being always to be preferred, if a conveyance equally early offers. But the warm season will be so fast advancing, when you recieve this, that no time will be to be lost. Perhaps I may trouble you annually to about the same amount, this being a very favorite wine, and habit having rendered the light and high flavored wines a necessary of life with me." - Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Appleton, Monticello, 14 January 1816[1]

Note that the phrase in question is mis-transcribed in Lipscomb and Bergh's Writings of Thomas Jefferson - it is printed as "necessity of life" instead of "necessary of life."[2]


  1. Polygraph copy at the Library of Congress.
  2. L&B 19:231.