A Meritge of Vintage Ideas…and Meaning.

Wineandphilosophy
Even before I review it, which I will be doing, I want to bring your attention to a new book that will be published on October 29:

Wine and Philosophy: A Meritage of Vintage Ideas
Editor: Fritz Allhoff

I was very excited to learn of the publication of this compilation of papers and essays that seek the nexus between wine, the experience of drinking wine and philosophy. I’ve come to believe that few pursuits are as ripe as wine drinking for helping us to think about our world, how we perceive it and how we interact with it. This book address exactly that issue.

Finding "meaning" in the appreciation of wine and in the ways we talk about it is probably not high on the list of those things that we are prompted to do upon opening and downing a bottle of Shiraz or Riesling. But I think it should be. I certainly think it is an event that is well suited to spur deeper contemplation of ideas.

We come close at times to doing just that on this blog and we see it on other blogs too. Consider the questions of terroir or wine reviews. What does it mean to insist that some wines have a "connection" with a particular place? Are we talking merely about those chemical elements that influence the character of the wine? Or are we, in the French view, exploring what "place" means not only in a geographic and geologic sense but also from a cultural perspective? And for that matter, how does own connection with a particular place influence our understanding of the meaning of a wine?

Consider the act of reviewing a wine. We know it is impossible for one person to sensually experience what another person experiences when they both drink the same wine. So, whatever common experience there is must be conveyed via written or oral communications. When we both declare the wine to be "full bodied" do we really mean the same thing? Are the words we use to communicate our experience clouded by unique experience or even by our social position?

The discussion of wine can, and I think should, lead us to deeper explorations not just of meaning, but explorations of the meaning of our own experience with life and people.

This is one of those rare books that actually lead us down this path.


6 Responses

  1. RichardA - October 22, 2007

    Another book on “wine and philosophy” was just recently published.
    Questions of Taste: The Philosophy of Wine (edited by Barry Smith-Oxford University Press-Sept. 2007)
    This is a collection of essays from a recent London congress of wine experts. I believe you previously posted about one of those essays which had been published online.
    I am currently reading this book, and have the Allhoff book on order.

  2. Matthew - January 15, 2008

    I find is fascinating that even though fine wine is becoming democratized, there has not been a more forceful trend to view wine appreciation as a more subjective/personal experience.
    On the contrary, there seems to be a trend to view wine as something that can be objectively evaluated by authoritative experts (wielding – in some cases – numerical scores). I see this tolerance for objectivity as both a popular trend, and as one emerging among some philosopers (like Barry Smith).
    I recently banged out my own riff on some of Prof. Smith’s ideas in my latest column here:
    http://www.lawandstyle.ca/shortcellar

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