Do not put new wine into old bottles

At first sight this would seem to imply that it is false economy to use wine bottles more than once, and that the saying means the same as, for example, Penny wise, pound foolish. But this is not so. The real meaning is that are out of keeping with each other. To play dance music at a funeral is to put new wine into old bottles.

Let us consider first the source of the saying, which is Matthew, ix, 17:

‘Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out and the bottles perish; but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.’

These bottles, of course, were not made of glass, but from the skin of goats. Once the wineskin had been stretched by fermenting wine, it was liable of burst when new wine was put into it.

The above quotation does not bring out the full meaning; the lesson is not complete without these two proceeding verses.

Jesus asked: ‘Can friends at a wedding mourn, so long as the bridegroom is beside them?’ Than he said that a piece of new cloth should not be sewn on an old coat, because it will shrink and make the tear worse.

Thus, when taken together, the three verses mean that we cannot mix things that will not harmonize with each other, just as oil will not mix with water.