In 1984, what is the significance of the wine which O'Brien serves Winston and Julia?

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When Winston and Julia visit O'Brien 's apartment, Winston is astonished to discover how the Inner Party lives and is taken aback by the pleasant smells of "good food and good tobacco." Unlike Winston's dreary, dilapidated apartment at Victory Mansions, O'Brien's flat has unique, expensive furniture in it, and he...

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When Winston and Julia visit O'Brien's apartment, Winston is astonished to discover how the Inner Party lives and is taken aback by the pleasant smells of "good food and good tobacco." Unlike Winston's dreary, dilapidated apartment at Victory Mansions, O'Brien's flat has unique, expensive furniture in it, and he even has his own servant. Both Winston and Julia are also amazed that O'Brien is able to turn off the telescreen in his apartment and are curious when O'Brien pours them wine out of a decanter. Winston has never tasted wine before, but he has read and dreamt about it. Winston compares wine to something from the romantic past and associates it with the glass paperweight and Mr. Charrington's half-remembered rhymes. Unfortunately, Winston is disappointed when he drinks the wine and can barely taste it because he is used to drinking strong gin every day.

O'Brien's wine emphasizes the extreme gap between the privileged Inner Party and the oppressed Outer Party. O'Brien's wine also illustrates how those in power have luxurious lives while the vast majority of the population suffers. Similar to most authoritarian regimes, the ruling members of Oceania enjoy many privileges that the majority of citizens do not even know exist. Winston's inexperience with wine also highlights his oppressed life and adds to his bleak existence.

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The wine O'Brien serves Julia and Winston signifies the huge gulf in living standards between Inner Party members like O'Brien and Outer Party members like Julia and Winston. O'Brien might come to the office in the same overalls everyone else wears, but behind closed doors, he lives an entirely different life. While Julia and Winston deal with constant deprivation, O'Brien lives in luxury. He has a servant, he drinks wine, he has soft carpeting, and he can turn off his view screen.

As if to emphasize the point, the text points out that Julia has never seen wine before. When O'Brien hands her a glass, she smells the wine with "frank curiosity."

"It is called wine," said O’Brien with a faint smile.

Winston has read about wine, and it carries a flood of associations, representing to him the texture of life before the Party took over:

Like the glass paperweight or Mr Charrington’s half-remembered rhymes, it belonged to the vanished, romantic past, the olden time as he liked to call it in his secret thoughts.

We see how much everyday life has narrowed for Outer Party members through Winston's and Julia's reaction to the wine. Winston thinks wine is sweeter and more powerful than it turns out to be, he thinks it has "an immediate intoxicating effect," and when it does not, he is disappointed. He drinks it all down at once, having no idea he is meant to sip it, another sign of the distance between him and O'Brien.

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In Part Two, Chapter Eight of 1984, Winston and Julia go to O'Brien's apartment where they drink wine for the first time in their lives. This act is significant for two reasons: firstly, because it is used to mark their entrance into the Brotherhood, an underground resistance movement. The act of drinking wine demonstrates their commitment to rebelling against the Party and is similar to a religious baptism.

Secondly, as Winston comments, the wine serves as a link to the "vanished" and "romantic" past because it is no longer a part of the lives of ordinary and everyday people. It is, therefore, representative of Winston's innermost desire to remove the totalitarian rule of the Party and to replace it with the democracy of the past.

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The primary significance of the wine which O'Brien serves Winston and julia is that it is contraband and only available to inner party members. No one in Oceania would be privvy to drinking wine unless it was illegally procured. Wine might also hold some distant link to the wine used at religious events. O'Brien could be seen as a "high-priest" in that regard.

The final significance of the wine is that they use it to toast Emmanuel Goldstein, the enemy of the party.

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