A Glass of Tobacco, a Bowl of Wine
    August 3rd, 2011

By G. L. Pease
I frequently mention wine and pipe tobacco in the same puff of smoke.
It’s usually an off-hand, casual remark, and it wasn’t until I was challenged by a friend, a devotée of the grape, but no fan of the leaf, to defend what seemed to be a somewhat tenuous position that I started to examine it more closely, and wound up finding even more similarities than I’d previously thought possible. On the surface, it might be difficult to imagine two things as different as a bottle of wine and a tin of tobacco sharing many similarities; let’s start at the ground, and work our way up.

Though there are many species of tobacco, quite a few of which are grown as ornamental plants for their showy leaves and fragrant flowers, that which finds its way into our pipes is of a single species, Nicotiana tabacum. (N. rustica is sometimes grown for smoking, or for the production of chewing tobacco or pesticide, but it is much to harsh and too strong to find its way into our pipes.) Similarly, the majority of grapes cultivated for the production of wine are of a single species, Vitis vinifera.

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