Allegrini 2018


Sir Roger Vernon Scruton is an out of the box thinker, academic and "polemic" Senior Research Fellow at Blackfriars, Oxford University and world-renowned British philosopher. He dedicated an essay to the history and philosophical implications represented by wine in Western civilization in 2009, "I drink therefore I am" for which he received many awards including the Masi Prize Civilization Wine number 35, complete with his signature on the historic barrel of Amarone, in the Valpolicella cellar, where he met WineNews for a quite provocative, but quite open interview. Scruton maintains that wine accompanies food very well, but it accompanies thinking even better.
He agrees with the great Greek philosopher Plato, author of Symposium, that wine is a great comfort given to men by the gods, but far beyond the pleasure of drinking it, the reflections it induces are useful to society. Especially in today's busy world, where the focus shifts quickly from one thing to another, wine makes us slow down and reflect on what we are doing.

“Italian wine”, Scruton points out, “is closely connected to the villages and territories from which it comes and to particular varieties representing the intensity of a "localized" lifetime; therefore, it has great philosophical significance”. The first question concerns the relationship between subjectivity and objectivity, which are irreconcilable in the tasting realm. “It is a difficult combination to resolve”, Scruton explained, “because taste, of course, is subjective, but it can be discussed, and it is not as important for wine as it is in other fields, such as architecture. If you build a building that people do not like in the center of a city, the people will be angry, which is why in these cases you have to determine the objective criterion of judgment”.

He is, however, skeptical about the concept of "wine culture", because “I think wine is and should be part of everyday life. When you elaborate too much on wine”, continued the British philosopher, “and overly critique its characteristics you have destroyed its meaning. Wine is the gateway for everyone to spiritual life. Of course, like any good thing, even wine can be abused, but when it is used in the proper way, everyone understands it”.
His judgment on wine experts, including Masters of Wine, the British institution par excellence, which counts a large number of women, is quite harsh: “I am very skeptical about wine experts. I think they are all crooks, especially the women, and the motive of this "fraud" is money. What matters is whether you like or dislike a wine. When I was a wine critic for a daily newspaper in London, I used to let my horse sip the wine - he was the best critic”.

His distrust probably stems from the desire of experts to take wine too seriously, while Scruton believes the best weapon is irony, which he has used abundantly in his book "I drink therefore I am". “I am always ironic because it is only through irony that you distance things. I respect the truth, and taking my distance from things, I can distinguish true from false. irony is not understood by young people, though, as it does not have a space in the digital and social media worlds, so it is not a useful tool to reach them”. Wine is not just culture and taste; now it is also investment, especially on the London market, through Liv-ex, the benchmark for the entire market of fine wines that after Brexit could lose its credibility.
“It is a complicated issue. the great advantage of fine wines is to make stupid people spend a lot of money, so that we mere mortals can buy and drink second choice wine at reasonable prices. This is the first time in two thousand years that China has a justification to invest money in wine and in doing so force up prices. I do not think Brexit makes any difference in this regard”.

The parallel between the approach to wine and love is more interesting and the first encounter with wine is narrated as follows: “the aroma of a great harvest hovers over the glass and lips tremble with anticipation, like on the point of giving a fatal kiss”.
“The approach to love, sex, and wine is definitely a good comparison”, said the British academic, “you lose your virginity and these things become less magical as they get older”.

Which are Scruton’s favorite wines? “I know very little about Italian wines, so my three favorite wines are French: the first is Montrachet white Burgundy, the second is Chateau Lafite and the third is Nuits-Saint-Georges, red Burgundy of the Còte de Nuit”.

Clementina Palese

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