We need to extend our vocabulary to be able to clarify the meaning of ”deliciousness” instead of toeing the line with terms describing individual fragments and not the experience as a whole.
The last excess New Year bubble has burst, the floor has been scrubbed, and the vestibular nerve has been properly restored. It is time to move on, speed up, and get going. This is the era of the three Cs: Calories, crisis, and climate. It is obviously only a matter of time before some nouveau riche American buys an entire Copenhagen suburb and establishes a well-drained and south-facing equivalent of the Côte Rôtie. However, until we’ve become adequately self-heating and self-sufficient in wine, truffles, and the like, it makes sense to reflect on gastronomic quality and the price of it. Not the least this January, the piggy bank slimmer and our bellies more stuffed than ever.
”The question is, then, what this may teach us about the experience we have when we lean back our heads and let the juices flow.
Split into the smallest of components
It makes me want to introduce an amusing little controversy, which appears on the scene once in a while when quality and aesthetics are quantified and priced. It concerns the increasing and tenacious tendency to employ a specific discourse when describing a subject which by its nature cannot be captured by less than at least a couple of those. When scientificalising even the shallowest of subjects, writers tend to have a special preference for reductionism, i.e. the splitting of a system into the smallest of its components which we subsequently study in isolated form in order to obtain a better understanding of the whole. However, it turns out that there are certain limits to the use of reductionism.
Chromatography and mass spectrometry
The world of wine is articulated on the basis of a reductionist discourse in the sense that we perpetually relate to grape varieties, geography, production technique, and the results of a technical and sensory analysis. There are people whose noses are so well-trained that they can detect not only the exact location of the vineyard, but also its incline in proportion to the sun, the depth of the top soil, and the average daily rainfall during the ripening period. Other people can dissect an aroma profile and list scores of central molecular compounds before they prove their existence by means of chromatography and mass spectrometry. The question is, then, what this may teach us about the experience we have when we lean back our heads and simply let the juices flow.
Time for a new vocabulary
Assuming that most people drink wine for pleasure, why is it that wine terminology is built around technicalities rather than feelings and sensations? If a friend tells you that a particular wine tastes great, isn’t that information 10 times more valuable than if he’d said that it was made from merlot, had been aged in oak for eight months, smelled like strawberries, or cost 7 €? In line with the rationalisation of the rest of our career-promoting society’s values, the time has come to unfold a new vocabulary based on the result of all our efforts: The good life, pleasure, contemplation, peace, and absorption. A vocabulary leaning more on the usefulness of its components instead of making further demands concerning defragmentation, technical insight, and keeping one’s finger constantly on the pulse. We need a more holistic approach to comprehend the depths of the hedonist qualities which good wine may possess. An integrated discourse to explain the phenomenon of ”deliciousness” which may help us in our everyday linguistic association with wine and food – and which may actually say a thing or two about how it is to engage oneself in the (hopefully) tasty matter. Apparently, 10-15 years of economic prosperity was not enough to spur a new food culture agenda in the West. Let us begin the new era by talking about that.