If by this I mean, is someone ever further than 10 metres away from a bottle of wine, then yes, we generally are at one with wine.
No, on this occasion, I’m speaking in terms of metaphysics. That branch of philosophy that attempts to explain our existence and the wider scale; objects, space, and time – fundamentally the entire world of things.
Great philosophical debates have raged over a glass of wine – or two, so it seems. Yes, the activity of wine drinking pervades many of the Greek texts, much in the same way that Shakespeare’s bawdy characters are usually garbling their own philosophies over a pint.
Wine seems to play a vital role in ancient Greek culture, so as one could expect, Greek philosophers used wine to somehow elucidate their philosophical meanderings. Does this mean that wine also plays a part in defining us as beings?
Plato’s Symposium: In other words, wine parties?
Can you imagine the board congregating in symmetrical unity, one across from each other at the board table, and then falling about drunk after going through next years projections?
There was a time when some corporations stationed on Fleet Street and Canary Wharf had in-house bars, but that was part of a by-gone era that was also not so keen on employing women in the workplace.
However, perhaps with an ounce of professionalism, the Greeks would retire to designated rooms after dinner to begin the Symposia:
“When dinner was over, they poured a libation to the god, sang a hymn, and — in short — followed the whole ritual”.
– Plato (427–347 BCE), Symposium
So rather than the philosophical debate taking centre stage, the drinking of wine was what really spurred the symposia. I’m not at all surprised by this. I seem to remember that the majority of the most interesting and challenging debates I ever had were induced by alcohol at a party.
The fact that wine drinking and food never overlapped in Greek times further suggests that wine was infused with this mystical ability to spark metaphysical questioning.
Other cultures & wine
In Christian Theology, we see bread and wine changed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. This ‘transubstantiation’ of Christ’s blood to be received by ‘the faithful’, suggests that wine was regarded very highly if it was to symbolise the physical substance of the son of God.
Regardless of your religious views, it is important to note that in this consecration, water is not chosen. And water is generally referred to as a fundamental need to human existence.
The current notions of wine
One generalisation of wine is that the more expensive a wine is the tastier and more authentic it is. Therefore, people aspire to drink from a higher priced bottle from a vineyard untouched by human civilisation that still practices ‘methode traditionale’.
What is the decision making process behind this? According to the Adam Waytz in his article, the Pyscology of Social Status
“…social status seems to be the most important incentive and motivating force of social behaviour.”
In sociological and anthropological study, a higher social status is determined by the level of prestige attached to one’s position in society. An achieved status is won by your own merits, and a lot of the time, people attempt to use objects to boost their status.
As a real world example, we’ve all been bamboozled by someone’s superior wine knowledge. Except, it wasn’t somebody who is actually a wine critic, it was your best friend, a colleague or even someone you had a fleetingly conversation with.
So here are my reasons why wine has long been used in conjunction with describing intangible forms or pertaining to regions beyond us.
I’m not sure that this is enough evidence to warrant an ontological study, however wine’s significance in civilisation has spanned cultures and generations.
About the Author: Barrie enjoys fewer things in life that sitting down to a nice glass of red wine in the evening. He dreams that one day his wine knowledge will be put to good use. He works for WinesDirect.co.uk – finding the best wine offers online.