Roger Scruton on WineBy Mark T. Mitchell for FRONT PORCH REPUBLIC
John von Heyking has a review of Roger Scruton’s book I Drink, Therefore I am: A Philosopher’s Guide to Wine. In addition to being a philosopher, composer, and fox-hunter, Scruton is also a wine connoisseur. According to von Heyking, Scruton
encourages us to recognize that stream of liquid descending from our pursed lips into our throat as the red or golden chord that runs from heaven to earth, and binds everything in-between into a cosmic whole. Wine both reflects and helps constitute our participation in all strata of reality, and points the way to our redemption.
Scruton reflects on the history of wine and its meaning:
At some level, I venture to suggest, the experience of wine is a recuperation of that original cult whereby the land was settled and the city built. And what we taste in the wine is not just the fruit and its ferment, but also the peculiar flavour of a landscape to which the gods have been invited and where they have found a home. Nothing else that we eat or drink comes to us with such a halo of significance, and by refusing to drink it people send an important message — the message that they do not belong on this earth (p. 137).
Wine is “a living thing” that is more than simply another beverage or food to be consumed. As von Heyking puts it,
The moral significance of wine lies in this: because its joyous taste is received like a revelation, it encourages an attitude of gratitude toward others and toward things. The joy of imbibing wine results in our awareness that something this wonderful nearly shares our own substance (on account of being inside of us) and points to individual people and things outside of us. Wine helps us experience others not as other things or people, but as dignified individuals whose existence, like ours, is a gift.
Furthermore, wine teaches the virtue of moderation without which the goodness of wine is lost. Perhaps if we could just get the Congress to drink wine with a philosophical disposition, they would quit spending money like drunken sailors.
h/t Richard Avramenko