Have you ever contemplated art, beauty & wine? How do you know what art is? Do you “know” it when you see it? What about when you taste it? Have you ever stopped to think about the commonalities between art and wine? Beyond the flavor or taste of it being beautiful or thought provoking, they share a lot more than just the subjective nature of evaluation.
Through the ages people have long contemplated what is beautiful or what is art, haven’t we? Everyone comes up with a different definition that our eyes or palates discern; however, even these can change over a lifetime.
Defining Art & Beauty –
Attempting to actually define art and beauty can be a challenge. Recently, I found this description of these accepted but difficult to define terms in Philosophy Now.
The fundamental difference between art and beauty is that art is about who has produced it, whereas beauty depends on who’s looking.
Of course there are standards of beauty – that which is seen as ‘traditionally’ beautiful. The game changers – the square pegs, so to speak – are those who saw traditional standards of beauty and decided specifically to go against them, perhaps just to prove a point. Take Picasso, Munch, Schoenberg, to name just three. They have made a stand against these norms in their art. Otherwise their art is like all other art: its only function is to be experienced, appraised, and understood (or not).
Art is a means to state an opinion or a feeling, or else to create a different view of the world, whether it be inspired by the work of other people or something invented that’s entirely new. Beauty is whatever aspect of that or anything else that makes an individual feel positive or grateful. Beauty alone is not art, but art can be made of, about or for beautiful things. Beauty can be found in a snowy mountain scene: art is the photograph of it shown to family, the oil interpretation of it hung in a gallery, or the music score recreating the scene in crotchets and quavers.
However, art is not necessarily positive: it can be deliberately hurtful or displeasing: it can make you think about or consider things that you would rather not. But if it evokes an emotion in you, then it is art.
– Chiara Leonardi, Reading, Berks
Beauty & Wine …
What about the beauty of wine? This has also been a question of the ages, hasn’t it? Certainly, many believe that wine can be beautiful and we agree.
“Wine is the only artwork you can drink”– Luis Frenando Olaverri
Ancient societies valued good wines. Consequently, this is a drawing of an ancient wine jar that was decorated with art. In the wine world, there are wineries that have been crafting wines for many years. In the Loire Valley, Chateau de Goulaine has been creating wine since about 1000. (Learn more about the 6 Fascinating Oldest Wineries in the World by reading it on Wine Folly’s website.)
Well renowned wines and wineries have amassed reputations for creating terrific vintages year after year, generation after generation. These bastions of the wine world are much like the “Old Masters” in art.
“A gourmet meal without a glass of wine just seems tragic to me somehow.”– Kathy Mattea
Sometimes it takes one true artist to make a name for a genre of art, music or wine, right? Notably, American jazz music was made world famous by the master, Louis Armstrong. Certainly, Andy Warhol was an American leader in pop art. In the wine world, Stag’s Leap is the winery that gave West Coast wine style credibility.
Time & Wine …
Over time, wine making evolves and spreads around the world. Differing climates elicits different varietal expressions. This leads to slightly differing methods that crafts many beautiful wines. Selecting a favorite is a bit of a challenge.
Methods of creating wines changes as technology evolves. Some traditional methods adapt well to changing scientific and technological evolutions.
In fact, today’s largest wineries create large quantities of wine at once in tanks large enough to seat an orchestra! While this is impressive, is it art? Or is it something like printing lithographs off the same plate? It is artistic but … is it truly art?
“The discovery of a wine is of greater moment than the discovery of a constellation. The universe is too full of stars.”– Benjamin Franklin, circa 1700s
Technically, wine created like this is by definition wine. It is the type of wines we see in the grocery and discount stores. However, it is readily available and much like fast food, you know what to expect from the small amount of money you trade for it. Uniformity of taste year after year and sanitation are the best qualities of this type of mass produced wine, right?
Science & Wine Making …
Much like cooking, wine can truly be an art. This art marries natural ingredients, experience and science to produce wine. Currently many colleges offering enology to teach this art in institutions of higher learning, one can readily know that it is much more complex a process than merely following a recipe on a box.
“Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.”– Paulo Coelho
Science has always been a part of wine making. In the Middle Ages, they learned to add sulfur to wine to help preserve it longer. Certainly, this made wine safer to drink.
Modern science has a huge role to play in wine making; however, their focus isn’t always to make it safer. Sometimes their focus is to chemically “trick” the consumer. We all understand that barrel aging is expensive and shouldn’t expect it or it’s flavor in discount store wines, there are some “ways around” barrel aging. If wine is being stored in stainless steel vats, sometimes companies add wood chips to it. Falsely, this gives a bit of a taste illusion to wine that has been aged in barrels.
Wine & Bad Science?
Other scientific pursuits have changed wine making. For example, “Mega Purple” being added to bulk grapes to enhance the flavor of inexpensive wines. This entails a bit of a concentrate moderating the flavor of more inexpensively grown grape wines.
Chemically manipulating additives to give discount store a signature flavor is also not unheard of in the wine business. This and other “tricks of the wine” trade are highlighted in “The Great Wine Cover-up” by Keith Wallace and shared by Drinks Business. Mr. Wallace shares a great deal more including a story of an Italian winemaker that wanted to boost the alcohol content of his wine or a practice called chapitalization. Typically, alcohol boosting is accomplished by adding sugar prior to fermentation. Alarmingly, tHowhis Southern Italian winemaker wanted to boost his wine’s alcohol content and added methanol to do it. Not surprisingly, this irresponsible and dangerous additive cost twenty three people their lives, hospitalized dozens and cost many their eyesight.
This article probably freaked out every wine lover reading this. Sorry about that, but such a great and noble beverage deserves a good clean dosage of honesty. If you want to stay away from overly manipulated wine, you may have to change your buying habits.Keith Wallace – The Great Wine Cover-up article
Yes, I encourage you to click on the above quote and learn more about some of the poor uses of science in the wine making business. Certainly, it can truly be alarming. Margins are tight and some are willing to cut corners in alarming ways.
(Another good article shared on this topic by the Smithsonian – The Science Behind Your Cheap Wine is worth a read.)
Curious to learn more on this? We thought so! More on this topic next Tuesday … Art, Beauty & Wine (Continued)
Born a Southern girl, I was transplanted a few times as a Navy wife! Now, our “retired” USN family, calls CA home. As UNC business school grad, I gained lots of useful insights by finding different opportunities and challenges along our military life’s path. Love of traveling, making friends, experiencing other cultures and sharing the best of all that with everyone are now all part of me.