Exploring The Slime-Factor In Winemaking
"How can anything you ultimately excrete be called art?"
This is a darn good question that deserves and answer.
Most often you hear winemaking referred to as both an art AND a science. Technically I think winemaking is clearly more "art" than science, unless you think of winemakers as mainly practitioners of the "fermentation sciences".
You could make an argument that winemakers are not so much artists as they are "craftsmen", in the way that a designer of fine rocking chairs is a craftsman. The difference between the terms "craftsman" and artist seems to come down to the difference between being proficient with particular tools for the purpose of creating a high quality item and being primarily creative for the sake of communicating an idea or perspective.
It turns out that both the craftsman and the artist need to have some general knowledge of and make use of various scientific disciplines in the same way that a winemaker must. But having that knowledge of, say, fermentation sciences, won’t get us where we need to be. Where we need to go to call a winemaker an artist is to make the case that a bottle of wine is truly a piece of art.
We could have a lively debate as to what constitutes "art". In fact, the commenter who provoked this post had something to say about that: "Either the word "art" is definable, or else anything you want to call art, is art."
I think art is definable in a way that isn’t just applied to particular subject matter or materials. For me, "art" has always been something that attempts to convey a particular idea about the nature of reality and about the perspective of the artist and that was created from scratch for just this purpose.
Wine is created from scratch. But in its finished form does it convey the winemaker’s perspective on an idea about the nature of reality? I think so. The winemaker surely has an idea in mind when they create the wine. They have an idea about style, texture, longevity, aroma, and color. But what’s important is that they have a myriad of choices as to how they can approach each of these aspects of a wine. And more important, as technology gives the winemaker the tools to achieve just about any style and character they want in a wine, what make the difference is the idea of the wine in the winemaker’s head.
But my commenter makes another point that is cogent: If it’s consumable, is it art?: "I’ve stood in front of great paintings, and i’ve maybe had a coupla
glasses of great wine no comparison and when i came back from the men’s
room, the painting was still there, on the wall, not on its
subterranean trip to the sewage treatment plant."
The suggestion here is that it one must be able to repeat their experience with an object in order for it to be art. That is, we need to be able to visit the restroom, then return with ever expectation that the art will be around to be experienced. This is very different than the idea that the wine must be consumed in order to be experienced because once consumed the experience cannot be repeated, at least it can’t once all the bottlings of a particular wine is gone. I guess my response is that since when can art only be experienced through our eyes, ears and touch? Why can’t it be experienced through out mouth and nose?
My commenter ends with a reiteration: "As for winemakers being artists, once again, PUUHLEEEZZE! don’t make me
choke on my Conundrum. Bartenders are more worthy of the title. Winemakers and lawyers are basically equivalent on the slime scale-—just below writers and above married senators who cruise airport mens
I haven’t thought much about the "slime scale". It’s an intriguing concept. The problem with my commenter’s depiction of this scale is that we don’t know what falls at the lowest end of the Slime Scale, that end of the scale that indicates what possesses the least amount of slimishness. But I don’t think my commenter means to say that winemakers and lawyers occupy that position.