In my recent post on the nature of wine appreciation, I argued that to appreciate a wine is to respond appropriately to it. For appreciation,it is not sufficient to identify features of the wine. One must respond to those features by becoming aware of their significance. I then listed four ways of responding appropriately—via perception, cognition, emotion or desire.
However, I should probably say something about what a inappropriate response would be. These would be examples in which an appropriate response is blocked by errors of judgment. Thus, part of appreciation is responding to a wine for the right reasons.
Some inappropriate responses are rather obvious although common. If one’s response to a wine is solely based on its price, snob appeal or marketing materials rather than the wine itself, then these responses are inappropriate. One’s focus on the wine is impeded by failing to properly judge what is relevant.
If your appreciation of a wine is based solely on the fact it reminds you of long lost weekends at the beach then your focus is on your own responses rather than features of the wine–again, a misjudgment about relevance.
Failure to consider the type of wine you’re drinking or facts about the origin of a wine is also inappropriate. Treating the daily porch pounder as if it were a work of art, or vice versa, is inappropriate as is complaining that a rosé lacks tannins or a German Auslese is sweet. Both are intended to be that way. Complaining that Amarone is high in alcohol without noting whether the alcohol is well handled or not is inappropriate. Because of the way it is made, Amarone will always be relatively high in alcohol. What matters is whether the alcohol is too obvious.
These are all cognitive mistakes that inhibit appreciation of a wine. There are also failures of attention.
Because the aim of aesthetic attention is to experience as many aesthetically-relevant properties of a wine as possible, if our attention to a wine is so one-dimensional that it blocks our attention to other dimensions, our response is likely to be inappropriate. For instance, if we’re attracted only to the superficial, easily accessible aspects of a wine, its power, softness, alcohol content, or ability to refresh, without considering the full range of its properties you haven’t really appreciated the wine.
Although we often think of wine appreciation as primarily involving perception, reasoning correctly about a wine is also central to its appreciation.
Earlier posts in this series on wine appreciation are as follows.