Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

The small barrel preserves the best wine

The small barrel preserves the best wine
The Italian proverb ‘botte piccola fa buon vino’ literally translates as ‘the small barrel preserves the best wine.’ It pretty much means the same as ‘the best things come in small packages’.

Being a nation of culinary aficionados, Italians have a seemingly never-ending supply of idioms and proverbs connecting food and drink to everyday life and the human condition. Well, this is one of them. By nature, the very best wines are in greater demand and cost more, so it stands to reason that when you’re lucky enough to get one, it will be in a small, carefully packaged cask or barrel, making the most of the vintage. That’s where the expression originated.

But now it’s used more playfully to sing the praises of people who may be shorter than average. It reminds us to never judge a book by its cover. Because just like small casks of wine, people are full of surprises and can often punch well above their weight.