Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What is The Examined Wine?

From Plato's Apologia,

“Perhaps someone might say, ‘Socrates, can you not go away from us and live quietly, without talking?’ Now this is the hardest thing to make some of you believe. For if I say that such conduct would be disobedience to the god and that therefore I cannot keep quiet, you will think I am jesting and will not believe me; and if again I say that to talk every day about virtue and the other things about which you hear me talking and examining myself and others is the greatest good to man, and that the unexamined life is not worth living, you will believe me still less. This is as I say, gentlemen, but it is not easy to convince you.”

While few of us are forced to make a choice between philosophy and death, all of us are faced with opportunities to decide between convenient conventionality and (sometimes inconvenient) devotion to discovering the truth through reason. How we choose determines whether we, like Socrates, deserve to call our lives “examined.”
So what does this have to do with wine? Well, frankly, nothing in particular. Except that the serious examination of anything, wine included, pays dividends to the faculty of examination itself, which as Socrates asserts makes life worthwhile. As philosopher Simone Weil (link) put it,

"Even if our efforts of attention seem for years to be producing no result, one day a light that is in exact proportion to them will flood the soul."

In summary, while this is ostensibly a wine blog, my hope is that this project will turn into a paean to the examination and enjoyment of all the rich things that life has to offer. Wine is but one of many pleasures in life worth some serious thought, and the examination of it can serve as a unique gateway into the examined life as a whole, because as Weil reminds us, “Intelligence can only be directed by desire. For there to be desire, there must be pleasure and joy. Intelligence only grows and bears fruits in joy.” And wine, needless to say, is a joy.


  1. I just heard a great quote the other day that seems like it's in the nexus of what you're talking about: "At the end of the day wine is a thinking man's drink and not a drinking man's drink, which is why there's so much philosophy behind it." -Dieter Cronje