Understanding Wine: Kill the Critic

IMG_0959“In the world of physical taste, the canon is less important for what it contains than for what it conveys”

Paul Lucas, Matters of Taste

Or what it omits. If standards are necessary in the field of criticism, the critic should have the freedom to define their personal spectrum. And they should be held accountable for that. The standard is relative and relevant to the one who uses it to convey opinion. The format is there to be questioned, provide a basis from which we explore. If the critic has a role it should not be to create an average opinion, or an average of opinions.

We don’t like questions without answers.
A redeeming aspect of the critic is their ability to be impartial on classicism, on cultural competence: it’s all contrived, the creative enterprise. At best, a critic can be totally engaged and totally removed from what they’re experiencing, meaning they place impartial value on all and any characteristics the wine possesses. A truly unbiased view can liberate the critic and also inhibit them, since there’s a certain amount of subjectivity in any conclusion. In other words, the heart has value too, in balance with the mind.

Everything starts and ends subjectively. We must not forget to include the variance of personal interpretation of the world as we experience it. Although the individual or institution that supports standardization would argue against it, there is nothing wrong with embracing subjective experience. We can use that to our advantage in the long term game of human advancement.

This brings to mind the very essence of Plato’s Problem*: how is it possible to know something that hasn’t been explicitly taught? That knowledge is acquired through a combination of innate and experiential problem solving… But how can we have innate ideas that precede our experience?  Seeing the world from the inside out rather than the world based on physical external characteristics (psychic proprioperception).

Where does inspiration come from?

Psychic continuity is required to understand wine (grape to bottle). We should embrace this natural ability with our sensory experience (subjective perception based on our unique experiences that inform our tastes, color perception, semantics, genetics, physical sensitivities or lack thereof). Visual experience is a stimulus like any other that informs our deeper understanding of things (ex. ship of Theseus- ugh just look it up). So beginning to recognize the grape for the time and place it was grown although now in a glass as fermented juice in front of you, is an important component to understanding wine on a deeper level. It’s you, not them.




*Chomsky described the gap between knowledge and experience “Plato’s Problem”


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