Taste of Wine Blog - Blogging About Wine Wine Culture & Philosophy Why Isn't Wine Considered a Work of Art?
 

Why Isn't Wine Considered a Work of Art?

Related Articles



Wine Glass in Red

Wine Glass in Red
Photo © Logan Cyrus



Are there good reasons why wine isn't a work of art and drinking wine isn't an aesthetic experience, or is this just prejudice — a cultural inheritance that makes no rational sense? A painting like the Mona Lisa is a work of art and viewing it is an aesthetic experience. Music, like a symphony by Mozart, is a work of art and hearing it is an aesthetic experience. Novels and poetry are works of art; reading them is an aesthetic experience. How are wine and wine drinking different?



Art, it seems, is limited to the senses of sight and sound. A great piece of clothing is only a work of art based on how it looks and only viewing it is generally regarded as an aesthetic experience. How that clothing feels on our skin is irrelevant, so our sense of touch is not regarded as a vehicle for art or aesthetic experiences. Food is "art" only by how it looks; how it tastes and smells is irrelevant because our senses of taste and smell aren't vehicles for art or aesthetic experiences. Why?


Aesthetics is a discipline that seeks to understand concepts like ‘beauty’, ‘art’, and ‘taste’. Most basically, we can ask whether wine should be regarded as an aesthetic object and, relatedly, whether its tasting should be regarded as an aesthetic practice (i.e., one in which we reflect upon various aesthetic properties, such as beauty, as then apply them to the object of our attention).



For example, we uncontroversially regard paintings as art-objects, and we think that viewing paintings can be an aesthetic experience. However, can wine be such an object? For various reasons, philosophers, including Plato, have been reluctant to ascribe aesthetic status to objects that engage certain sensory modalities, such as taste. Other sorts of art, such as painting and symphony, are accessed through different sense modalities (i.e., sight and hearing) and, so various philosophical arguments have gone, are therefore entitled to aesthetic status in ways that wine (or, more traditionally, food) is not.


Source: Fritz Allhoff, Wine & Philosophy: A Symposium on Thinking and Drinking




What differentiates sight and sound from touch, taste, and smell? Well, sight and sound are among our most important senses — it would probably be easier to survive without any of the latter three than without the ability to see and hear. Sight and sound are necessary for hunting, an activity that probably played a critical role in at least some of human biological and cultural evolution. Sight and sound are vital components for human social behavior in ways that the other three aren't.



I don't think that these quite qualify as "good reasons" for why art and aesthetic experiences should only be conveyed via sight and sound but not via touch, taste, or smell. They may, however, be "good reasons" for why this cultural prejudice has developed — for why philosophers, artists, and others with influence over culture have uncritically favored sight and smell in the study of art. Granted, the sight of wine is an important part of the wine drinking experience — but it's just one part of a larger whole. Sight is important for the enjoyment of other foods as well and this isn't usually regarded as enough to treat any of them as art either.



Have any artists ever tried to show which focused entirely on delivering art and aesthetic experiences through senses other than sight and sound? I'd love to see an art show that only had smells with nothing to look at. How about an art show that required you reach out to touch the objects? It might even have "black boxes" where you had no idea what was inside, but you are expected to reach in and experience what it feels like. And, of course, there should be art shows which are all about the experience of tasting — I'd like to think that such shows would place wine front and center!




 


{module 37}
Powered by JReviews

Featured Wines

Popular Wines

Recent Wines

Wines by Price