A Philosophy of Wine

I would suspect that when one drinks wine he must have a little bit to think about it. He spends a few dollars at the grocery store and might not think much. In fact, he may take the wine home with any to little intention of thinking at all. All this seems normal. Yet I confess that my pet peeve is just that normality (or routine) doesn’t, or at the very least shouldn’t, escape scrutiny.

Scrutiny? No one is upset at this poor sap at the local supermarket. Wine, however, necessarily invites one before a table (usually with company) and sparks the marriage of its various aesthetic features: pairing the beverage with a complimented meal (e.g., Pinot Noir and rotisserie chicken), intellectual or existential conversation, the experience of the wine’s chemical/sensational characteristics (tannins, descriptors, etc). This of course isn’t usually the case of how one drinks wine.

In today’s culture (American culture), “the drink” is more understood as an adult beverage. As a certified sommelier working in a fine-dining restaurant, it’s interesting to serve tableside sangria ( red/white wine, simple syrup, fresh fruit, flavored liqueur) and see the children’s reaction everytime: “That looks really good! Can I try some?” and the parent replies: “Now that’s a daddy/mommy drink.” It’s an isolated luxury that can be consumed in adult circumstances: parties, bedrooms, showrooms, bars, pools (seeing music videos of rappers waste entire bottles of Moet Chandon or Dom Perignon (same maker; did you know that?) makes me cringe), and so on.

In other cultures, it’s a much more personable beverage; it involves medicinal interest and even counts as a legitimate breakfast item (not mimosas, stop that). Of course, let’s be careful to suppose that an entire philosophy of wine is developed through various cultural considerations. Though learning about wine in other cultures certainly shapes and extends one’s philosophy of wine, it is more certainly developed through a rational and subjective enjoyment of wine.

Rational in the sense that I think one should have some apprehension of overconsumption. Here I think we must sensitively consider (in silence, heads lowered) to those who have struggled with overconsumption to the point of seeking help, and no longer being able to consume wine or be in environments that are openly serving wine/alcohol due to personal reasons like anxiety or simply restraint.

In other words, drunkenness should be seriously elaborated upon in one’s philosophy of wine. With red wine containing on average 9 to 15% alcohol and a standard glass pour being about 5 to 6 ounces (that’s four glasses to a bottle), one can experience a change in behavior and rationale when they have had too many glasses. This, in other words, suggests that sobriety is a virtuous state and that it attempts to carefully discern where corruption seeps into one’s rational faculties and takes steps to avoid or discontinue it.

Then there is the subjective enjoyment of wine. I’ll have to say, going to the store and picking the first bottle of red wine that looks good to you is quite a risky bet for some. “Both of these are a Cabernet Sauvignon, but this one is $8 and this one is $18. They’re even by the same maker. Screw it, I’m getting vodka.” Identifying and discerning certain qualities of elegance and craftmanship in a wine doesnt come easy (and for some sommelier test-takers, cheap).

I’ll give you an example. One of the best wines I’ve ever tasted was a 2004 Red Rock Terrace from Diamond Creek Vineyards in Napa, California. A buddy of mine tilted the stem towards my nose and said “Dude, get a load of this.” I gave my standard three wiffs and a swig/swallow, and probably blurted an explicative after all this. It was the most explosive, vibrant, alive, and long-lasting experience I think I’ve ever had with a Napa wine. Simply by tasting the wine and being given the information of where it’s from, what grapes were used and even the vintage (among other factors), these all count towards an aesthetic or subjective enjoyment/experience of the wine. This practice can also be entirely elaborated upon given one’s disposition to the drink (i.e., if you hate wine, there’s probably no reason for you study vintages, grape varietals and soil types).

Okay, let’s slow down from here. You like alcohol, and you kinda like wine. You like the sweets, not the drys (personally, I always say to be careful using this distinction between “sweet wines” and “dry wines”). Maybe you like the drys and not the sweets. Whatever the case may be, I am simply suggesting that one considers bringing their mind carefully before the wine, not push it away or hope to use very little of it when they drink it alone or with others. This “invitation of thought” is simply what I mean by a philosophy of wine. Faculties are constructed and refined so they can detect and enjoy, not to be bombarded and left in dull, numb states.

Bless you and drink responsibly.


About Steven Dunn

A believer of the Gospel; a broken mind being reformed in grace.
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