Wine, Art, and Objectivity

wine and artThose who think wine cannot be art because, unlike artists, winemakers lack control over their raw materials have a mistaken view of art.

The materials artists use are not inert just lying there waiting for the artist to bring them to life. An artist’s materials—paint, canvas, light, textiles, metal, stone, musical instruments, etc.—are pregnant with possibilities that the artist does not create, and an artist must take these capacities, dispositions and tendencies into account when conceiving and constructing their work. They are not imposing a subjective form on matter as if from the outside. Instead they must develop techniques to tease out a form which their materials make available to them so those materials have a say in the final shape of the work.

No composer or producer can be indifferent to the physical construction of the various instruments they use to create their work. No painter can be indifferent to the quality of the paint they use and how it gets applied to their canvas. Much of the work of an artist is in manipulating the objectivity of their materials and reacting to its limitations.

These possibilities and tendencies are as real as rocks and trees. They limit what artists can do and are malleable only to a degree. This is where the objectivity of art lies, not in our responses to it, but in the conditions of its production.

Wine is no different. In fact, winemaking can be defined as the practice of teasing out a form from the vineyards, grapes, and other materials at the winemaker’s disposal. Like artists, their product is also dependent on the  condition of their raw materials.

If there is a difference between artistic production and winemaking with regard to control over materials it is only a matter of degree and differs from case to case.

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