The Meaning of Wine

Alder Yarrow at Vinography gets the affiliation of wine and art.

Wine ultimately embodies connection. The connection between the earth and the sky, or as Galileo so beautifully put it “wine is sunlight, held together by water.” The connection between man and earth, and the cycles of cultivation unbroken across millennia. And of course, the connection between people, brought together as they break bread and sip the fruits of their labors and their lands.

One thing that distinguishes works of art from ordinary objects is that works of art are about something. They refer to something beyond themselves and thus have meaning. The quote from Yarrow expresses the idea that wine is about the traditions (social, viticultural, and aesthetic) that link human beings, the earth, and cycles of cultivation. Winemakers, at least those who make distinctive wines that maintain their connection to place, exploit those connections and extract meaning from them. This is the main reason to think winemaking is an art form.

Of course to understand that meaning you have to be aware of those traditions and know how to “taste” them. Flavors and textures unique to a region or to a winemaker’s style are part of the symbol system of wine just as particular arrangements of line and color, deployed as a depiction, are part of the symbol system of a painting.

Using Leonardo Da Vinci as an example along with some ruminations about creativity, Yarrow points to a variety of other similarities between the world of wine and the world of art. It is well worth a read.

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