What is received (or assumed) wine wisdom?
When you do a wine course there is an approved syllabus and a whole series of self-evident truths to be absorbed. There’s a text book, a methodology for tasting and a structured approach to be learned. The discipline of learning creates a foundation of knowledge, but one is at the base of the mountain rather than the top.
A little wine wisdom is most certainly a dangerous thing for it makes us complacent and talk in general terms about that which we know very little. Students emerge from the system feeling that they are certainties, that they have a compass that points to inalienable wine truth. Just as FR Leavis quantified “greatness” in writers, so wine writers and educators have cleaved to the notion of great wine regions, noble grapes and first-class terroirs. To this end there are scales and classifications, premier and grand crus. What is the opinion of the age, is represented as scientific certainty. Received wisdom is knowledge that is not challenged and certainly not proved upon the pulse. And so, aesthetics, pleasure, beauty and naturalness are never part of the wine discourse. The assumption that there are simple right and wrong answers leads to trammelled thinking and an insatiable lack of curiosity: for years, winemaking courses have presented wine purely as a chemical and microbiological construct. It takes time to cultivate an open-minded approach.
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