Book Review – Questions of Taste: The Philosophy of Wine

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To purchase Questions of Taste: The Philosophy of Wine, follow this link to Amazon.com for an amazing deal!

When I sat down to write this review, I thought to myself; “how the hell am I supposed to write this, I’m a scientist, not a

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons. Photo in Public Domain due to expiration of copyright.

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons. Photo in Public Domain due to expiration of copyright.

philosopher!”.  Questions of Taste: The Philosophy of Wine was a title that drew a second look from me while perusing the book covers, though I must admit it was one that intimidated me slightly.  While I do enjoy discussing and thinking about the theoretically at times, I don’t necessarily consider myself a philosopher.  Was I going to understand this book?  Was I going to be able to get through it without getting confused, bored, or was I going to feel inundated with a sense of “holier than thou” attitude?

After reading Questions of Taste: The Philosophy of Wine, I’m happy to report that all of my misgivings in the beginning were completely ameliorated by the end.  In fact, even within the first chapter I had a feeling I was going to not only finish the book, but actually enjoy it!

Questions of Taste: The Philosophy of Wine is a collection of essays, edited by Barry C. Smith and forwarded by Jancis Robinson, that I recommend to any wine lover who wants to dig a little deeper into the world wonder that is wine, and become immersed in prose that will have you questioning what it is to taste wine and to truly “know” wine.  I found myself thinking deeply on many of the points made by each contributor, having to set down the book for a minute or two while I absorbed what I just read and play out my “rebuttal” or “statement of agreement” with the author as if he or she was there in the room with me.

What is taste?  Is it purely objective?  Or are there subjective qualities to the art?  This is, in essence, the central theme of the book, with each contributing author discussing their thoughts and opinions on the subject, each in his or her own way.  Some essays were more philosophic in nature, and others more scientific, while even more married the two together to create a piece that was not only thought-provoking, but also supported with “hard evidence”.

I realize I am being very vague in this review, but I believe with this type of book, I should be.  Every person will have their own personal experience with this book and will either agree, disagree, or want to debate the individual contributors in ways that may be different from my own.  Thus, I will say to you that this is a wonderful book for those that love wine and enjoy philosophy, but is written in such a way that even the non-philosopher can appreciate the prose that he or she is reading.  My only requirement is that you read this book when drinking a glass of wine, as it really does make the prose

Photo By Boston Public Library (BPL) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By Boston Public Library (BPL) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

that much more enjoyable and thought-provoking.

Enjoy!

For those that would like more detail, I will give you a quick rundown of the essay titles as well as their authors, so you can get a sense of what you will be diving in to after you purchase the book.

Chapter 1: The Philosophy of Wine by Roger Scruton

Chapter 2: Knowledge, Wine and Taste: What good is knowledge (in enjoying wine)? by Kent Bach

Chapter 3: The Objectivity of Taste and Tasting by Barry C. Smith

Chapter 4: Wine and the Brain by Jamie Goode

Chapter 5: The Power of Tastes: Reconciling Science and Subjectivity by Ophelia Deroy

Chapter 6: Can Wines Be Brawny?: Reflections on Wine Vocabulary by Adrienne Lehrer

Chapter 7: Wine as an Aesthetic Object by Tim Crane

Chapter 8: On the Evaluation of Wine Quality by Steve Charters

Chapter 9: Wine Epistemology: The Role of Reputational and Ranking Systems in the World of Wine by Gloria Origgi

Chapter 10: The Art and Craft of Wine by Andrew Jefford and Paul Draper

To purchase Questions of Taste: The Philosophy of Wine, follow this link to Amazon.com for an amazing deal!