Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Good wine is for smarties
Asimov's latest post is about Sherry. I like Sherry. Sherry is good. In the post he states I don’t mean to come off as a snob, but sherry and most great wines require a commitment to understand them. Like Coltrane or Mahler, Dickens or Dostoevsky, or even baseball, understanding great wine is not something that you enter lightly. You must make a commitment of time and of thought in a way not required by a simple fruity wine or a popular romance or mystery. Hmmmm . . . so basically being a wine aficionado or whatever simply requires commitment to study just like scholars of Jazz, Literature or Baseball. First I think all these things require interest, you have to like it enough. A whole lot of people in this world enjoy drinking alcoholic beverages, but I think most don't give a damn what the background or context of what they're drinking is and would find it boring and wastefull to spend any time doing so. And they're probably right. So you like wine, so you get into it, fine. But I think there are many more factors involved than simply commitment. Number one is money, and time is a related number two. Labor theories and cultural capital and social context are all huge factors and too much for me with my puny brain and lack of time and money to get into. And while I think there may be connections between people who make commitments to Literature or Music or Wine it's a bit overboard and self inflating to lump them all in the same sentence. Wine is closest to food in that it is an almost base requirement (at least before safe drinking water was widely available) that is tied inherently to culture and geography on both macro and micro levels. The confluence of simple necessity and the almost spontaneous eruption of art is of a never-ending interest to me, and here is where food and wine and other beverages can rightly be elevated beyond subsistence. But the existence of music, story telling and visual art is (so far as I know) uniquely Human. It's the closest I come to some sort of god or religion. The same tendency to art allows us to elevate our subsistence (food and wine) to levels of faux godliness and more importantly communicate with each other in ways that are simultaneously primal and divine. But even apes have been known to put aside fruit for fermentation in order to party. And not to hammer on the socialist theory but food and wine as "art" is almost exclusively in the domain of the wealthy. Not so, clearly, with music, stories and art.