1. Hmmm. I suppose you could make a case for some form of panpsychism. This would make it conceivable–theoretically possible–that wine has some type of conscious experience. Whatever emotions or feelings wine triggers in human beings are secondary effects or qualities that result from more fundamental “expressive” elements in the wine itself. The “feelings of conviviality” triggered by the wine is not what the wine is expressing psychologically or biochemically, even though we speak as if the wine were expressing this particular feeling. Metaphorical, figurative language is the result of projection. And, furthermore, even if we are charitable and grant that wine is capable of expression, we cannot not know what it is expressing. (And to complicate matters further, we must acknowledge that the same wine often generates dramatically different experiences amongst wine drinkers–some individuals experience a certain Cabernet Franc as “loyal” and others as “provocative and alluring”. Does this mean that some individuals are necessarily misunderstanding what is being expressed by the wine? Or, alternatively, does the subjectivity of taste only mean that wine is so rich and versatile, it is expressing different things to different drinkers unproblematically, like a non-representional painting that has no explicit, well-established, intended meaning or expressive content (aside from what the subject experiences)?

    Here is a little linguistic “trickery” via a simple algorithm. It may solve the issue of expression. When we experience certain wines as “angry” or “sexy” or “racy”, we can add the word “power” to the descriptor. When we identify or describe a wine as “angry”, we can say the wine is expressing its power to trigger feelings or pronouncements of anger (or “feelings of conviviality”). In the meantime, I will be looking out for wines that express a sense of shame or embarrassment for being so outrageously overpriced.

    1. Hi Stephen,

      As I noted in the article, my thesis is not dependent on attributing mental states to wine or grapes. I do think the idea of projection does some work here but the projection is not arbitrary and is based on features of the wine. I’m still thinking through this and will have more to say next month. Granted “the same wine often generates dramatically different experiences amongst wine drinkers” but the same is true of music or painting. I think both horns of the dilemma are true (and thus is not really a dilemma). Wine does express different things to different drinkers unproblematically; but some judgments about what is expressed can be mistaken.

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